Don’t Forget the People

This one is pretty self explanatory, take photos of the people. The whole point of events like EAA Airventure is to bring people together who enjoy Aviation. They celebrate the culture, the heritage, the adrenaline, the camaraderie and of course the stories. Without these people the Fly-in wouldn’t happen. How do you capture this?

There is no one method. You walk and talk and watch the people. Watch the pilots, the crews, the reenactors and of course the audience. Let their enthusiasm be the story but remember to be respectful and polite. It’s a public event so you can photograph everyone that comes in but be nice about it, especially those that keep the planes going. Talk to those guys and share YOUR enthusiasm with them. As for gear, I’ve taken people shots with everything from an 18-35 f3.5-4.5 to the 200-400 VR. It all depends on what kind of story you are trying to tell.

The Museum Has it All

EAA Airventure has a lot to offer but no trip to Oshkosh is complete without a stop at the EAA Airventure Museum. The museum has some of the rarest aircraft in the world sitting on display for people. Most of the planes in the museum are actual first, either the the first one made or was the first to set a record. It panders to all ages and all areas of aviation interest with a combination of antique, warbird, sport and modern aircraft.

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A lot of the museum is dedicated to EAA’s founder Paul and Audrey Poberezny. While the museum houses lots of great planes outside there is even more as the warbirds are pulled out so that the inside has space for receptions. Also outside is the pioneer airfield and antique hangars where it truly all began.

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Shooting inside buildings like this with spot lighting here and there with heavy shadows in between used to be very difficult, but as cameras got better it became a lot easier. With the D5 and 24-70 f/2.8, a perfect walking around combo, I simply put the camera to ISO 3200 which the D5 is optimized for, added -1.0 exposure compensation, and boom no problem. I had a fast enough shutter in even the darkest of areas and what little noise that was produced was easily taken care of in ACR. This P-51, the first ever built P-51, was photographed with that exact recipe.

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Some of the exhibits in the museum change. On special loan right now from the Commemorative Air Force is the collection of Nose Art preserved from actual WWII combat aircraft. The list of planes varies from B-17’s, B-24’s and a few others I couldn’t quite recognize. To see this impressive collection of history preserved is quite something. What was interesting was the kids friendly and the adult sections. While it was common to have pretty girls painted on the nose of planes, most were covered. To see examples where they weren’t made me wonder what the CO’s of those squadrons had to think when they saw what their pilots were doing.

Finishing Those Oshkosh Images

Well EAA Airventure Oshkosh has come and gone once again but the images still remain. While I wasn’t able to go to Oshkosh this year I have been to Oshkosh a couple times in the past and as a result I do know the challenges that come with finishing images that come from Oshkosh. I thought today might be a good day to talk about some very simple techniques to help finish those images.

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The first thing that you have to realize about Oshkosh is that there is stuff going on everywhere and there are people everywhere. It’s very hard to find clean backgrounds as a result of all of this. With Aviation a clean background is one of the most sought after elements in any photograph. It’s a challenge though because of the distracting elements. With Oshkosh and with such a huge gathering of planes it’s almost more desirable to find ways to incorporate those backgrounds with the images. The re-enactor area sits on the other side of Warbird Alley and is sandwiched between the trainer planes and the speaking area. The tents act as a great background because they do bring back some of the feel of how the airfields were setup during WWII. Those airfields were not always luxurious, they often were comprised of a couple of buildings and then a lot of tents. What’s important here is to remove the distracting elements like the cars parked by the tents, the ropes, flags and any other oddity that takes away from the “old timey” feel.

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While it’s not easy to find clean backgrounds they can be made by merely blocking them out with bigger aircraft. Out in Warbird Alley the number of subjects to work with are endless. It’s easy to overload your senses here and as a result it’s easy to miss shots. One of things that I find helps in these situations is to keep it simple. These three B-25’s for instance, Betty’s Dream being the closest, is truly a straight quick shots. In the early morning light the planes looked great after the previous evenings thunderstorm. The drama was helped by adding two graduated filters to the image, one on the bottom to merely darken the grass and bring your eye up and the other up top to bring your eye down by bringing down the color temperature. This gives that cool and darker feel of the morning. Simple steps in ACR that can help direct the viewers eye through the image.

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Of course it’s not always about the whole picture, there are a lot of tiny details that make up an event like Oshkosh so focusing on those details is really important also. This helmet was sitting in a Huey Helicopter and happened to be one of the responders on scene after the crash at the Reno Air Races back in 2011. The light was coming in through the glass so there wasn’t any reflections from using a flash. Using ACR and the Radial Filter you can essentially add a vignette to bring down the edges and make the more important elements more visible. Vignettes are a great way to get the minds eye to go where you want it to when dealing with crowded areas like these ones.

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Lastly of course is the flying. There is so much flying going on that you have to be shooting. The one downside of course to photographing planes, especially with prop aircraft, is the amount of dust that gets kicked up. When working with prop planes the other obstacle is getting that prop blur. In order to do so you have to shoot at a low shutter speed which means a greater depth of field. That greater depth of field will show every single spot of dust that you might have on your sensor. If this does happen ACR offers another really helpful tool and thats the spot removal tool. Really simple to use when select hit, go to the bottom and check the box visualize and then you’ll see very dot on your sensor. The best part is after you clean one image you go over to the left and can select all the images and have all those dust spots removed without having to go back over any image. It’s a very handy and time saving tool.

Now the great thing about all of these tools is that they can be found in the latest Lightroom as well. This makes it so that no matter what your workflow is you can get your images finished quickly that way you can get back out shooting sooner.

Remembering Oshkosh

With everything going on right now in Wisconsin at EAA Airventure Oshkosh, I thought to myself, “why not write a post about Osh.” In the aviation community Osh is like nothing else. Just the name gets everyone attention because it seems like everybody has gone to Oshkosh at least once. It’s one of the largest gatherings of airplanes and aviation enthusiasts in the world. People from all over the world come to watch and enjoy in the spectacle. The best part is ever year is different. You never know what will show up.

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There are two ways to stay at Oshkosh, in a hotel which fill up a year in advance, or camping. Probably the most fun way to stay is under a wing of an airplane. There’s nothing quite like flying across country and then camping under the wing of the plane. Then again if it’s not for you then the campground is pretty darn nice to. Having done both of these, I can say each one is it’s own experience.

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The great thing about Oshkosh is there is something there for everybody. From Warbirds, sports, homebuilts, seaplanes, jets, modern military, building classes, guest speakers and more. The amount to do there is just endless and you can quite literally wear yourself out just walking back and forth to see everything. This particular shot taken down in Warbird Alley where there are usually over a hundred warbirds parked on the grass of every make and model for the aviation enthusiast to enjoy.

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If the static planes aren’t enough then the afternoon performances will definitely make you stop and look up. From aerobatic displays to military demonstrations, the list of aircraft that take to the skies is always impressive. It’s not everywhere that you can layout on a beach blanket and look up and see all those great planes overhead. In 2013 there was a great bomber formation that flew over with the B29 “FiFi,” three B-25’s and two TBM’s. For a single display of firepower this one was pretty good.

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In the end it all comes down to the people. The volunteers making everything happen. The pilots that are flying the planes. Least of all the people that show up to watch. Non of this would be happening if there wasn’t the fan base to keep it alive and in the end it’s all about having fun.

For Those of You Going to Oshkosh!

The great thing about the Aviation community is that it is a small community in the respect that everyone seems to know everybody. As a result of this everyone wants to know whats going on right now. Well EAA Airventure, Oshkosh is starting next week and the Texas Flying Legends Museum is heading back with their fleet of amazing historic warbirds. Warbirdsnews is broadcasting live the Warbirds in Review section that are being featured everyday in Warbirds Alley throughout the week and they wanted to know what TFLM are going to be doing at Oshkosh. Head over to the Warbirdsnews website to see my news release on the Texas Flying Legends Museum activities during Oshkosh.

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