Just Show Up

This past week I was home in California with the folks working on a few projects with them and yesterday after they got back from their trip to Minot we met up in Reno at the Reno Air Races. Now for those that have followed my blog for a while you probably know that we started going to the races in 2009 and took an absence the last couple of years. Well a very good friend of ours who is part of the crew on Voodoo asked us to come up to take a couple of pictures. An unplanned, spur of the moment idea turned into a really great day which brings up the lesson behind this post. Just show up.


A lot of people ask how you make these great opportunities happen in aviation and the answer is you show up. We didn’t plan on going but we had a friend who wanted us there so we went. Now if you’re starting out the answer is real easy. You go online to find a list of airshows that are happening around the US, like this one, then you just go. A day pass is $10 and you walk around, take pictures and talk to people. It’s amazing what happens when you just be sociable. Every aviation project I’ve worked on has basically started with this process. It’s really basic but it works. This shot of the P-51 Mustang Voodoo was taken with the D5 and 70-200 VRII in high speed crop. As I said I wasn’t planning on going so I didn’t have my 200-400 VR with me. But by showing up I got a couple shots and kept those connections I’ve made over the years alive and that’s what you need to do.

A Simple Start

You know it’s a Monday when your mind is blank of good ideas and you’re left with the list of things that need to get done. This is one of those Mondays. What better way to face one of those days then with a good image from a good trip. This is race 15, an old school mustang racer. We had a fun morning photographing it a year ago.


That Mustang can Move!

One of the many things that I still find fascinating about photography is how you can photograph the same subject in different ways and get very different results. Take this Mustang for example. Usually you tend to photograph it while looking up, that’s the most common way to photograph any plane at an airshow. But when you have the opportunity to do an air to air shoot and you get to look at the plane in a whole new way, that photograph changes. When we were doing a first multiple ship formation we had a breif where we planned certain shots with certain planes. This mustang, known as “Little Horse,” part of the Texas Flying Legends fleet, was only needed for the early part of the shoot and what you see here is Mark breaking away and heading back to home base.

AVTFLFT0568 as Smart Object-1

Looking down on the subject is always fun. It’s also not something you see as often. It does provide one of the perspectives that is always desirable, speed. These planes move fast and anyway to show that speed makes for a more dramatic photograph. The greenish, brownish background of Galveston Bay just blurs out as the mustang slides away from the rest of the group. Having a full prop blur doesn’t hurt either. Then again, that’s another part of the story that you can choose to do with as you want.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Another heads West

Those of you in the Aviation world have probably already heard the news that a TF-51 Mustang “Galveston Gal” out of the Lone Star Museum went down between Chocolate and Galveston Bay, sadly killing the pilot and the passenger. The mustang was scheduled to go to the Wings over Houston Airshow this weekend. It is always sad when someone we know goes west but unfortunately it is part of this world we call flight. Our thoughts and condolences are with those that knew the people on that flight.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 200-400 VR II, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Working with bad light

There was a time when bad light or harsh afternoon light was avoided. Well with ACR these days it’s bloody simple to properly finish images taken in the middle of the day. It’s just two sliders highlights and shadows. It’s really quite simple. With the planes there isn’t always an option of when to shoot, because most planes play in the middle of the day. This Mustang came in just that scenario. This P-51 came in for 2 days did an air to air shoot, and then left. The whole time it stayed parked on the ramp. Well having never seen this plane before I grabbed a couple clicks of it. The light was boring, but the clouds were good and then was all that was needed. Along with a little help in post.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 200-400 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

That early morning rush

As I have said countless times before, you never know what might show up at these events. One of the planes here is the P-51D Mustang “Rebel.” Owned and piloted by Doug Mathews this beautiful Mustang was out at Oshkosh two years ago under viewing for Grand Champ. Yagen’s P-51 won that year but the mustang is still a beaut. Mathews is now more famous then he was after setting the altitude record in a prop plane at 42,000ft. Yesterday morning we were fortunate to have it out static on the tarmac. It wasn’t planned but it was a happy accident. With Home Pylon in the background, this plane is happy to be home here at Reno.</p.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Fun with Statics

One of the best parts of Reno is working with the static planes. Every year it’s basically a tradition to get a bunch of aircraft out early in the morning for a sunrise shoot. Why do we do this? Well quite simply it’s a ton of fun! It’s not always easy to get rare and unique aircraft in a place with a clean background, so while at the races we take advantage of it.


For instance last year we brought out a 3 Grumman “Cats,” a Wildcat, Bearcat, and Hellcat. It’s rare to get all the planes out together so we made it happen, just to recreate that history.


Then there is always the chance of meeting a rare racing plane that hasn’t been seen in years. This is Race 15, a P-51 Mustang that lives at the field and hasn’t come out to play in a number of years. We got it out at PRS and it was by far one of the best subjects we have ever had to work with. So you never quite know what will show up and life’s opportunities will bring you.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 24-70 AF-S f/2.8, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Precon Photo Safari

Every time I go out shooting it is a different experience, usually because every time I go out either I get the shot that I wasn’t thinking I was going to get or something else comes up completely that i was predicting. It’s one of the best parts and the most frustrating parts of being a photographer. Well for the last couple of Photoshop Worlds I have been too I have had the great honor of assisting at the Precon Photo Safari with Moose Peterson and Joe McNally.

[swf]http://www.jakepeterson.org/swf_imgs/AVSTSC0386.swf, 585, 435[/swf]

What sets this one apart from all the rest is each one is different from the last. It’s whatever wherever we can find. A year and a half ago in Orlando it was PBY’s, Trimotor’s, Mustangs and Jets at Fantasy of Flight and Stallion 51. This past March it was a Civil War Reenactment group at a plantation outside of DC.

[swf]http://www.jakepeterson.org/swf_imgs/LCVADCSP0333.swf, 585, 435[/swf]

What will today’s Precon be? What will these crazy guys come up with next? I don’t know but I can’t wait to find out and share it with everyone. Stay tuned.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

The Forgotten Ones

Blog’s are tricky things as it turns out. There are many views on what should and should not be done. How to get more views out of ones site. One of the biggest complaints and reasonable objection is that once a post has been published it will eventually get lost. After a month goes by, or even sooner then that, that post will no longer be in recent posts and it will have been forgotten. Why then go through the work of creating a blog, creating the posts, creating the content if we know that it will eventually be forgotten? I honestly don’t have an answer, but i have an idea. It occurred to me this past weekend that it would be very simple to make a spot on the blog that you could go to find certain posts, ones that either i liked writing or ones that you liked to look at, and that spot would have all the ones that won’t be forgotten. Over time it will eventually grow to house more posts, but for now i started with just three. Three posts that long ago i wrote and have been buried in other posts since. Up at the top is section under tips called The Forgotten, and in that section will be any old posts that i feel deserves a reprieve. Since I’m a nice guy though i thought i would add the three posts i put up into this post as links in the bottom. We shall find out if those posts deserve to stay forgotten or not.

[swf]http://www.jakepeterson.org/swf_imgs/CAFFT2246.swf, 585, 435[/swf]
Flying Fast in the P51

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