One of the longest running performing groups in the aviation world is the Blue Angels. The legacy of the Blues goes back to 1946 with the first demo team flying F6F Hellcats. They are the second oldest group after Patrouille de France which was formed in 1931. Today they can be seen all over the country as they appear at over 30 events annually. They were one of the headliner acts at Los Angeles County Airshow last weekend.
I’ve had a chance to photograph the Blue Angels a number of times over the years, starting at the Reno Air Races. They are certainly a fan favorite with their tight formations and death defying acts. More then once I have heard other performers talk about the precision needed to do some of their routine stunts. Photographically they are always appealing as the symmetry of their maneuvers combined with brilliant blue and yellow paint scheme make every image pop.
Today is the first official day of the LA County Airshow. While the gates open to the public on Sat and Sun, tonight there is a special throwback to the night before Pearl Harbor at Fox Field, with a Meet and Greet the performers between 6pm-9pm. Today is also the photo tour day for those that have already bought tickets. Many great performers are attending the show this year including the Blue Angels, Tora! Tora! Tora! and of course the Texas Flying Legends Museum. I can’t wait to start shooting today and of course the rest of the weekend!
Well in case life wasn’t busy enough, after getting back from Africa on the 26th, four days later i headed down to Houston for the Wings over Houston Airshow, which has become one of my new favorite airshows to go to. It’s the last major event in the season and warbirds from all over including the CAF, Texas Flying Legends Museum and this year Collings Foundation, come together at Ellington Field. It’s a really fun event if your warbirds enthusiast because a whole lot of great planes show up for this two day airshow. Not only is it impressive how fast everything gets set up but also how fast everything gets broken down. The show is pretty darn cool with performances that all ages to come to see and one of the most excited to see come back was the Blue Angels.
Now I’ve always liked prop planes a little bit more then jets mostly because of the challenge of getting a great panning shot with a full prop blur but I have to admit that the routine the Angels go through, the maneuvers that they pull are really quite impressive! I greatly enjoyed photographing them with the D4 and 200-400 as they did their routine. Despite being off the airshow circuit for a while they came back with a real sharpness that honestly the images just don’t do them justice. It’s one of those groups that you have to just see in person.
Finally! After a week of dealing with selection, finishing and FTPing, I can proudly say that the last of my Galleries are updated. The last two big ones, Performers and The Shed, have now been updated with a combine total of 21 planes and over 500 images! That means in this entire updating process I have put up over 1,100 new images in my Gallery. And yet there is always another blog to do. If you go to my Gallery now you will also see that the old page, The shed, has been broken up. The way I see it, as my air park grows and fills with new aircraft, I’ll have to continue building more sheds to house all the planes. On each page now is 20 aircraft along with a way to get to the next page. As always the navigation on the left upper corner is still there. Enjoy.
On a last personal note, for those of you out there that come to this site as an aviation enthusiast and as someone who recognizes that some of these aircraft, pilots and both are no longer with us; it is not for shear business reasons that I put up images of those planes or people, but more as a way to keep their spirits alive. As Robert Odegaard said, “these planes are for everyone, the photographs should be too.”
I though this would be a good Friday blog post. I like most others here a lot about not refinishing an old image. Well I love to play around and sometimes that means going back to images that I have visited in the past. These shots of the Blue Angels I took at the Reno Air Races in 2009. Back then my processing skills, and that of the technology of the time, were not as good as they are now. Amazing how far things come in just a few years. I always liked the look of these F-18’s Super Hornets and I wanted to work with them a little bit. These are not HDR they simply went through ACR and a few minor touches in Photoshop CS6.
In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 70-300VR, 24-70 AF-S F/2.8, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
I said i would get back to the Blue Angels so here it is. These were the shots i took during one of their practice runs. It was actually pretty impressive to see the tight formations they were able to do without crashing into one another. These are the F/A-18 Hornets, and they just rip, capable of speeds over 1200 mph. They are by far a sight to see.
The smoke they produce was somewhat of a mystery until a good friend Kevin Dobler explained that it was actually an oil that was heated an released on command by the leader. Well it didn’t take long for them to start showing off their impressive formation skills. They began with simple flyby patterns and gradually moved up to more advanced ones.
The paint job was one of my favorite parts. Simple and yet stood out very well against the sky and clouds. The yellow striping just brought it all together. I know obvious right, Blue Angels being blue but hey its an important detail.
They did a couple flybys like this with the landing gear down. It seemed a little odd when they did this one. Almost like they wanted to look as if they were landing on top of each other. Definitely well coordinated, the formation was well done.
This was the last image that really stood out to me. I liked the pattern and proximity of the planes. Another well performed formation. Couldn’t understand why only one jet released smoke and not all of them, i guess it means something that i don’t know about. Unfortunately i don’t really feel too chatty at the moment. Lack of sleep is making me a bit loopy so ill just leave it at this. The Blue Angels were impressive if not a lot rusty at first. But rusty or not they are doing something that most people couldn’t which makes it amazing.
Images captured with D3, 70-300 AF-S vr, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film