I don’t often photograph much modern military aviation but every now and then I get the chance to at airshows and one of my favorites from day one is the A-10 Thunderbolt II, also known as the Warthog. Built by Fairchild-Republic the Warthog in many ways is the successor of the P-47 Thunderbolt. It was the only close air support (CAS) production built aircraft in the USAF specifically built for CAS. It entered service in 1976.
The Warthog was designed as a low level, ground attack aircraft for supporting ground troops. With this purpose in mind they were built with very specific safety measures. The plane was built around the front 30mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon along with 1,200lbs of titanium armor for protection. The plane was built to take hits and keep flying. With this premise in mind the mechanics of the aircraft are rather simple making for easier repairs at maintenance facilities.
The first combat seen by the A-10’s was the Gulf War where it distinguished itself in it’s CAS role. While the USAF had always planned on removing the A-10 from service with it’s replacement the F-35, plans for this have not gone through. How long will it remain in service is debatable.
It seems like every time I tell people what I do and I explain that I photograph airplanes, i get the usual excitement. Then they ask is there a preference in the planes, older planes as opposed to newer ones. I always answer “I prefer working with the Warbirds.” Then they always seem depressed with my answer. I never understood that. A preference is a preference nothing more that my own like. It’s not like I photograph only warbirds merely i enjoy them the most. It’s hard to beat the stories that they tell.
The reality to photography that most people outside the business and even some in the business don’t understand is that you can’t always work with that one thing that you want to work with. Photography has always been about following ones passion even if that means photographing what normally one wouldn’t. In order to succeed you have to be flexible and do the work that not only comes your way but at the same time going after the jobs that no one is offering you. Flexibility is the key to success.
Before I was taught anything else about photography my Dad told me that there will be those times when it just sucks to be a photographer and then there are those times that you are glad to be one. Those are the good times. All of that goes into the next project and it’s how we become better. Here in this post I show four images that I have taken within the last couple of years of basically all modern military aircraft. The A10 is a little stretch but still well within the last 20 years recent activity. The L39’s are the only one well dated. I decided to post these shots because i wanted to show that even though they aren’t my favorite shots, even though i have no plans on using them anywhere, and even though i know no stories about any of them, I still enjoyed photographing them. Each one taught me something new about photography and that made them worth while.
Preferences aside I enjoy aviation photography. Basically anything that flies is worth while to shoot. The difference is that which i can do something with afterward and that which the afterward is only another file added to the collection. Everything comes down to time. The one disadvantage to Aviation Photography is that everything needs to be processed in post afterward. In wildlife nothing gets post work. Deciding what to spend time on is the difference between success and failure. If it’s not evident enough I try to do a little bit of everything. For me if it flies it’s in the files or at some point will be. Perhaps the best answer to that first question that people ask me is, “I photograph whatever is in front of my lens.”
Tomorrow is the start of Photoshop World. Before I get started sharing some of what goes on at this marvelous and overwhelming event, i wanted to bring to you some of the aircraft that was at the Florida International Air Show. Everything you see was up flying both days, giving some fantastic performances.
It’s day two of the Air Races here in Reno and they are shaping up to be very exciting. 4 F14’s came in the night before and were resting on the ramp in the morning. Along with them were the Blue Angels but since i had already showed them i thought i would go to these guys. Plus there is no telling how long these guys will be around. The light was great, there were a couple clouds and the right amount of light to make them pop. I got down low and shot up into the sky trying to eliminate that pesky ground. It seems to be the favorite approach out here with static planes. You can go to Dad’s, Scott’s or Bill’s blog to see more spectacular static plane shots.
I was working with the F14 when Bill walked past me rather quickly. I asked him why and he said there is a A10 down the way. I said what and he replyed an A10 Worthog, one of my favorite planes. I followed him down the ramp and there it was parked in a little fenced off area, waiting to be photographed. Well the background sucks, just filled with cars and buildings and junk, far more stuff than i wanted to deal with in post. I therefore stuck to close up shots and it appears that the rest f the guys did the same. It turned out to be a rather cooperative subject, just wish it was out on the ramp.
Images captured with D3, 70-300AF-S vr, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film