Working inside with a Plane

Working inside ay building can be a challenge due to the multiple light sources and the lack of light in certain areas. Aircraft are no different. But aircraft tend to have two benefits going for them, they are made of metal which is naturally a reflective surface and most aircraft are stored within a big open white hangar, which acts as a natural light bouncer. Now not all aircraft are polished aluminum so they might need a little help.

This Monocoupe 110 Special was built back in the 1930’s-1940’s as a sporty race plane. Despite its max speed of 185mph it’s actually a rather unsafe aircraft due to its lack of visibility and high wing load. Not many exist today but the ones that do are quite spectacular. When you have a black plane inside a dark hangar but with such great graphic detail, you have to stop and capture the moment. In order to due that I needed flash especially with that yellow. Flash was the only way to bring out that color so a simple click with one flash was all it took.

The Year In the Sky

When this year started I had decided to start a new column on my blog featuring one aircraft a week and the history of that plane. It’s been one heck of year and while I was unable to make that happen every week, for seven months history has come alive for just a day. When I started in Aviation Photography I never thought that I would get so involved with the history of these planes or these people behind them. When I look back over this year, I am amazed of the the history that was shared.


Two of the biggest events this year were the celebrations of VE Day and VJ Day. While VJ Day didn’t have nearly the same amount of attention as VE Day, the 70th anniversary of both were marked in this country. I had the pleasure over the years to witness many special events such as the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid in Dayton, OH, air to air with two Super Corsairs, and the VE Day Flyover of our Nations Capitol this year. While the photography brought me to those events, it was the passion for telling the story through the camera that made them special.


Every year more and more of our vets pass away and this year was no different. We lost many good men and women, some whose stories were written down and others who were not. While it is impossible to tell them all it should be the goal of all to honor those by writing down their stories.


Each year is filled with discovering new subjects and coming up with new ways to photograph those subjects. As a photographer your main job is to capture those images so that others can learn and be inspired. While easy to think of images as art it’s even harder to wrap your mind around that fact that you are recording history. What you see every time you put your eye to the viewfinder is something you will never see again. It’s an odd feeling but it can drive you to take better images knowing that it will never be the same. It’s the one truth that I have come to learn through aviation.


On this last day of 2015 I hope everyone can rejoice in what they have accomplished in their photography. Whether big or small in the end we all were able to capture images that told a story for someone else to read. New subjects were found and more or waiting to be discovered. That’s the best part of being a photographer, there is always something else out there.

The Background Tells the Story

Every photograph is made up of multiple elements and each element is either a detractor or a supporter. It’s our job as visual artists to determine which way those elements go. When it comes to the background, the background can be many different things and still work there really isn’t a rule saying you can use that one or the other. Visually if it works, it works. Being able to see that when taking the image is the challenge.


When it comes to aircraft, usually the background sucks. There is usually a hundred and one different things in the background that are distracting to the rest of the story. Now sometimes you can get away with it because the subject is so eye catching that you tune out the rest. Like this Monocoupe 110 Special at the Dakota Territory Air Museum. The yellow paint job just screams out at you so it’s hard to focus on anything else. But if you look closely there is a Waco QCF under the right wing, pulling your eye back and the big hangar in the corner which is the museum. Granted the skyline isn’t super clear but since it’s black the eye doesn’t stop there. Just remember to remove any vertical lines because the minds eye gets stuck on those.

Image Captured with Nikon D4, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

One Great North Dakota Weekend

It was one heck of a weekend! This past weekend my Dad was doing his K&M Adventures Air to Air workshop in Minot, ND. Minot is home to the Minot Aero Center and the Dakota Territory Museum. The Aero center has a great number of planes that are constantly coming and going through the active services of the airport but the Museum is also home to the Texas Flying Legends Museum fleet for maintenance and storage during the Summer months. The Dakota Territory Museum is home to numerous planes including a vast variety of antique planes. The Aero Center is run by Warren Peitsch and Brian Sturm and with such a small community all working together to promote aviation, the possibilities here are endless.


I drove up from Bozeman for the weekend to see just what it would be like to attend of these Air to Air workshops since I hadn’t been to one. Well the class was great and the attendees were very enthusiastic and left in sensory overload. We photographed this Monocoupe 110 Special on the very first morning and it was one heck of a morning. Using the D4 and 24-70, I got down low and shot up using the yellow stripe as a graphic line leading straight to the Monocoupe. By getting down low the foreground was minimized to show off more of the amazing sky. Simple way to make a big impact.

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