One thing I have noticed while working at Airshows is how often I photograph a plane and someone else then comes up takes the same picture in the same spot but never does anything with it. It intrigues me how often with static shots in particular, planes will get ignored and left out just because of the “clutter” around it. What i mean by clutter is all that normal airshow stuff like fences, ropes, tents and people. None of that means that the image can’t be fine tuned. Here’s an example.
This is the B-25 Mitchell Bomber “Photo Fanny” of Planes of Fame. This plane comes out pretty regularly but often surrounded by the same stuff as you see here. Now does my version look less accurate to what everyone else saw there? Yep. Does my version make the plane look more desirable? Yep! Getting rid of all that clutter brings the eyes back to one thing that’s important in this shot, the plane. While it takes a little time, it’s worth it in the end. A good tip to be thinking about when taking these shots is if you know you are going to be playing with those clutter elements watch for clean backgrounds or at least backgrounds that are easy to work with. It makes your life a whole lot easier if you don’t have to be cloning material over and over again. I know from experience.
In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 24-70 AF-S f/2.8, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
I love doing static plane photography. Everyone time i step behind the camera to do a static shot of a plane it is always another challenge for me. With some planes it’s easy to find the right angle or composition with a plane. Then there are those that aren’t so easy, like this B-25. Now I have spent some time trying to get that awe shot that kind of sums up this plane when it’s on the ground, getting closer but i still don’t feel like I’m there. The one big challenge with this particular plane is the fact that is so difficult to photograph it vertically. The relationship between the engines and the nose make it hard to align all the would be attractive features in one shot.
With the help of Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and Silver Efex Pro 2 I was able to bring out certain details in the plane. Aluminum siding is always a bit more complicated due to its reflective natural but it also can make for some great lighting situations. It also makes a really good subject for black and whites which is always worth playing with.
There are many basics to this photography thing and one of the principle ones is do you compose vertically or horizontally? With some subjects the answer comes naturally. Take for instance these B-25’s. They are long, wide, and pretty difficult to compose vertically. The hardest part I always found with them is that the engines are far enough apart that it is hard to get both engines are even just one in and make it look good.
These are just a couple of quick shots from Ohio. Top one is Devil Dog, a B-25 that is painted in Marine Corps colors and the bottom is Show Me a B-25J from CAF Missouri. The fun fact with these planes is when you look at them head on, they just look totally bad ass. Most have five machine guns some, like Devil Dog, have a whole lot more!
One of the great joys of working with Aircraft is that you get to see a lot of really cool planes and learn a lot of diverse history. Last week I blogged about going to the Doolittle Reunion which is truly a celebration not for the public but for the men that flew that daring mission 70 years ago and those that are still around today. The event has been going on since last Friday, at least that was when the planes started to arrive. Now part of the event is at Wright Patterson Airfield Base, one of the oldest military bases in the country and no longer an active military base but a museum. The other part of the event, which started earlier, takes place at Grimes Airfield, outside Dayton Ohio. That’s where the week began.
This next week is the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle Raiders, specifically the 18th of April. In 1942 Colonel Jimmy Doolittle lead 16 B-25 Mitchell Army bombers off of the carrier USS Hornet to attack the mainland of Japan. This was our response to the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941. The goal was not of strategic military importance but a moral boost for our troops as well as a hit to the Japanese moral. We succeeded. The men that went had to land in China, not all made it. Afterward Doolittle setup a private club for those crews that went on the raid. There was been a meeting of the men ever since. As of today only 5 of the original guys still survive. It is these men that we are celebrating this next week.
I personally cannot wait to get to Wright Patterson Airfield next week! The amount of planes and people hat should be attending along with the Veterans that will be there will make this event unbelievable. Once again history will be in the making. Check out more here.