A High Vantage Point or a low Vantage Point

A rather typical thing I see when I’m out shooting, are people standing and walking around the subject. Basically staying eye level with whatever it is they are shooting. Now this isn’t a bad thing by any means but it can be limiting. For example, as I have been talking a lot about lately, these two Super Corsair’s Dad and I photographed down in Arizona about a week ago. This was a sunrise shoot at the hanger, the shots were taken with D3 and 70-200. The 70-200 was the lens of choice, it allowed for enough focal length to get the ends of both wing tips in the frame but also close enough to isolate the planes from background clutter. The top image is taken while laying down and the bottom image is taken 40ft up on a scissor lift.

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I choose these shots specifically because they show a certain space to subject ratio. When lying down on the ground, which by the way the pavement at a hanger is covered with oil and dirt and tends to ruin clothes, I know cuz I’ve gone through a couple pairs of pants, the ground tends to fade away so less detail is noticeable and the sky becomes more prevalent. This is great when working with a great cloudy day. The opposite is true when looking down at something, more ground is in the frame and more detail is seen. The nice thing about looking down at the planes is that you can see more detail along the fuselage. Bad thing is if the ground is covered with gunk then it takes some more time in photoshop to remove it all. Depending on your work flow this may be problematic.

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Now when ever you look up at a plane it always seems bigger and more powerful. Looking down everything seems a bit smaller, more condensed. Looking over the top is pretty cool though, you have a lot less background to deal with, which can be nice and provides a view that is seldom seen. Now there isn’t exactly a scissor lift or ladder every time I go out shooting but it’s certainly nice to use when it’s there. One last important thing to consider. When working with sunrise and sunsets opportunities the light is a key factor in angle. Both of the shots above are at sunset and the light creates a harsh shadow, one of which covers the plane. If you don’t want that in your shot then going high isn’t a great idea. Lastly, under the wing is always in shadow, at sunrise it’s manageable but if you want all the detail under the wing and above then your going to have to use HDR or a lot of post work. For any of you that have done HDR you know you need to be very steady or else ghosting starts to pop up. Standing on top of a ladder trying to do HDR doesn’t always work so well. This is just one of things to consider when your out shooting.

Images Captured with Nikon D3, 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Flying Over the Desert

To start off the New Year I wanted to do something more fun. For the first time on this blog a video has been posted. This video was shot last week at CAF Arizona while Dad and I were doing our Super Corsair Flight. The Video was shot with a P7000 mounted to the hot shoe of my D3 with a Manfrotto 494 Mini Ball Head. With this setup I can be shooting stills while also recording video. However there are some challenges in the process.

During the flight i was second seat in the A36 Bonanza, so in order for me to shoot I had to look around Dad’s head. In the video you can tell that as well as see the sides of the A36. There are times when it would’ve been wise to go tighter but overall it was better to go wide in order to get more footage. In case any of you are wondering why one prop is rotating faster than the other, it’s because #74 is using more RPM’s and therefore rotating faster. The faster the prop turns the faster shutter speed you can get away with. Anyways it was a fun flight that i thought others should see.

Flying Together Again

After the high of flying with two Super Corsair’s and the 10 hour drive back home, exhausted barely begins to describe how tired Dad and I were yesterday. Processing through images was quite difficult with tired eyes, but well worth the time. It was one heck of a flight and a moment of history that I will never forget. The Super G’s flying together in the afternoon light, shinned like no other flight I’ve done so far. Dad and I were in an A36 Bonanza, he first seat which is closest to the door and i was second seat, behind him. Every time I wanted to shoot I would have to look around Dad’s head. It’s still very doable for getting good shots but it does have some limitations.

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The planes moved in and out around the Bonanza, as Robert and Casey flew different formations for us to get the shots we wanted. I say wanted because this wasn’t a flight for business reasons, nor for teaching others, but it was a flight that needed to happen for those passionate about Aviation. Air to Air flights happen all the time, but a flight that has two of the three remaining Super Corsair’s, the only two that fly, is something that probably won’t happen again. It took tremendous effort from all those involved to bring these planes together, my Thanks go out to them.

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It was weird see people’s reactions to the planes as they were parked outside the hanger on Tuesday. The CAF Arizona Wing had a good crowd while we there, people shuffled in and out all day. Both Super G’s were parked outside and anyone there could go up and look at them. Dad and I watched in amazement, wondering if any of those people new how rare a sight they were witnessing. I overheard some say to their kids that they were Corsair’s but beyond that nothing. They were witnessing two planes brought together for the first time since 1949, and they probably didn’t even know it.

Images Captured with Nikon D3, AF-S 70-200 VR, TC-17e, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Playing With History

One of the best parts about working with planes and pilots is every now and then the opportunity arises to go photograph something truly unbelievable. Dad and I headed down to Arizona to photograph a rare bird, the F2G-1D Super Corsair. This particular plane, commonly known as “57,” due to the race number of 57 on the fuselage, was a former Thompson Cup competitor at the Cleveland Races. After a long, tough history of racing, rotting and revival it is now back to it’s former glory with a new paint job brilliantly shinning in the afternoon light.

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This is pretty much the most basic of shots i could have come up with, but due to the warm afternoon light on the candy apple red paint job, it just makes it seem like so much more. For this shot i was using the 70-200 VRII and my D3, got down low and shot at angle to the plane. The great thing about where we were was the people were so nice that they moved the plane to face the light. It couldn’t have been any better.

Images captured with Nikon D3S Digital SLR Camera, Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Lens, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

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