Probably the most iconic of all WWII warbirds is of course the P-51 Mustang. Although this aircraft was not the most produced aircraft during the war, it did serve one very important purpose. In the early years bombers flew unescorted to many long range objectives. After a staggering number of loses of bomb crews, B-17 crews being 10 and later nine as one waist gunner was removed, a single plane lost was a high price. In 1944 the Mustang was added to the arsenal. Equipped with wing tanks the mustang could fly with the bombers to Berlin and back, this one feat made the mustang famous.
One of the best features of the mustang is it’s aluminum body. The aluminum body of the aircraft reflects everything, including light. This makes the plane much easier to photograph in most light conditions. It also can be really cool when there are great clouds in the sky. The clouds change the reflective surface of the aircraft so there are patches of blue and white along the fuselage. There’s also a catch, if the plane is next to another plane or people those reflections will be seen as well. It’s those little details that are important to remember when shooting and finishing.
I know what you’re thinking, Mustang Friday doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Mustang Mondays does. For some reason I woke up today and have just been thinking about Mustangs. Now I’m not much of a car or horse photographer so this shot of a P-51C “Red Tail” Mustang will have to do.
Here in Bozeman we get some very weird weather. It’s amazing how often we get rain, snow and sunshine, at the same time. The way the Bridger Mountains and the Gallatin Mountains are shaped, Bozeman sits at basically a bottle neck between them. The weather then goes through this long valley to get here and then through the pass it gets narrow. Well yesterday we had an odd day.
It started out with snow on Saturday and it finally looked like we were going to have some snow for a while. Yea right. It all melted. It warmed up yesterday, all melted. It went from sunny and blue skies to overcast in the afternoon. Well right around 4 o clock i was thinking about going out for a quick sunset shoot but with the low clouds to the west the sky wasn’t going to light up. Instead this thick layer of fog came in and immediately i thought of this shoot down in Florida from this past April when we had amazing fog. I was so longing to have a plane to go photograph right then. Nice thing is that fog will be back.
Like most days when struggling to find something good to blog about, it’s the little things that spark an idea at the last moment before you start to work on something else that gives that light bulb. Today is the release of the movie “Red Tails,” which I am looking forward to seeing, and it seemed appropriate to blog about some real Red Tails considering none were used in the movie.
There are a few P-51C Mustangs painted in memorial of the Tuskegee Airmen, this particular one is down at Fantasy of Flight, part of Kermit Weeks collection that I had the great fortune of being able to photograph last April. This P-51C is painted in the scheme of Lee Archer’s plane, “Ina the Macon Belle,” and the armor plating in the cockpit is in fact autographed by Archer himself. It is an absolutely amazing aircraft, that does a great job honoring those brave men.
I realize that his is just another addition to my galleries, something that I’ve been doing a lot lately but i wanted to add to of favorite aircraft, the P38 Lightning my all time favorite plane and the P51-C Mustang down at Fantasy of Flight. I have photographed only two P38’s, 23 Skidoo and Glacier Girl. Both were at the Reno Air Races this past September and I had the fortune of photographing them. Each plane has a great history, a history I’m still learning.
This particular P51-C is painted in the colors of Lee Archers plane from the Red Tails. It just so happens to have the armor plating in the cockpit is signed by Lee which makes the plane just that much sweeter. The plane has an amazing paint job and the one morning we were able to photograph it we had some amazing fog. After some time of processing images it seems right as the next one to add.
Well i thought it was time again to add a few more images to the galleries. After all there are so many images that i want to show with limited time to do so, it seemed perfect to add these three beautiful planes to the Air to Air section of my aviation gallery. All three of these planes came from two air to air photo shoots this past month down at Fantasy of Flight. Three marvelous planes, even better photo subject.
Probably seems like I’m still going backwards blogging what happened a week ago. Well I still think it’s too fun, not to share it would just be wrong. Flight days were Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Saturday was three beautiful planes the P-51C, a T6 and the Duck. The only catch with this whole adventure was that Kermit wanted to fly every plane. So in order to make the transitions better without any dead air time waiting for the next plane, we were able to get the T6 from Stallion 51, the guys just down the road who are incredibly friendly and great to work with. The T6 wasn’t bad either.[swf]http://www.jakepeterson.org/swf_imgs/AVFOFFT0524.swf, 585, 435[/swf]
We started with the P-51C which was has an amazing finish. Any background that is put with that plane will look good. It’s just how that plane is. Now normally we would be in a Skyvan shooting out the back at the planes. Due to a mechanical issue at the last minute with the plane we were forced to work with a substitute plane, a Twin Otter. Seven of us were shooting out the open side door. It was an interesting experience. For myself i was behind the three front guys who were at the edge and i was leaning over them to look down and out. Not the most comfortable position but well worth it for the images produced.
Then of course was the T6 when Kermit was landing the P-51C. Now T6’s are rather common, they are inexpensive and easy to get parts for still. However, there are some really nice looking T6’s and then there are some not so nice looking ones. This one is definitely a very nice looking plane. One of the best parts of the flight was having KT in the back while Syd was piloting so that both seats were full. That’s cool to see because the plane is a trainer and normally would have two people in it.
Finally we are down to the Duck. Wasn’t really sure how this one would be photographing because it looks bulky. Not big just bulky. Now obviously it’s a float plane and that extra boat like fuselage is what makes it look bulky, so in the air it makes you wonder how it can fly. Then again when you see it land on the water it becomes this awesome looking plane.
It’s pretty sweet. Challenging though, the Duck is slowing down and we can’t slow down to much or the plane will stall, so getting the shot becomes very tricky requiring perfect timing. In the end it all worked out well and everyone got the shot. Now you might be wondering what else is there could top that first flight, well you’re just going to have to wait.
Images captured with Nikon D3, AF-S 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
With so many great subjects to work with it’s hard to find time for them all. Well some of my favorites I tended to work with more so than any others. The float planes and fighters were just too awesome to pass up. Now we ended up spending about 4 hours shooting the statics that morning which meant a lot of differences in light. The first few statics shots i posted were from very early morning light. These next four are later in the day when the fog burned off and the sun was high.
As you can already see the shadows are much more distinct already and spots on the plane are beginning to get blown out. It doesn’t take much for the metal airplane sides to get over lit creating blinkies. Thankfully it’s a really easy thing to fix in ACR with the recovery tool or in photoshop afterward. One of the benefits of having a private group go into FOF is that we were able to go out onto the grass runway and shoot back at the planes. This made for some great shots with the hangers and the pond where the planes reflections were. It’s kind of one of those quarks, a float plane with its reflection in the water. Simple things really.
Of course the TP-40 couldn’t be ignored. It’s just to rare and to cool to pass up. I shot it forwards to backwards trying to capture interesting angles. This is one of those planes that does look really good with hangers somewhere in the background and even though i don’t post any of those images rest assured that i do have them.
Now it’s back to the P-51C Mustang. This plane just glimmers, one can’t help but be awe stricken when looking at it. It’s a beautiful plane that shows the amount of love put into it. There is one little thing i noticed when processing the images of the P51C and that is when in ACR in the Luminance tab, if i wanted to darken the sky with the blue slider making the sky look better, the plane was affected to. Because the plane is polished aluminum it is reflecting the blue of the sky so it is important to watch the plane when messing with the sliders if it has a polished finish. Just a little trivia for ya.
I am a little behind in blogging again which isn’t abnormal when times get busy. This past weekend was a very busy time with very little sleep. As some of you might know from my Dad’s site, last weekend we were in Florida with another adventure in the new series of Air to Air workshops. This time we were at the fabulous Fantasy of Flight like we were for Precon this past April. Fantasy of Flight has some truly spectacular aircraft, all of which has its own unique history. Now the guy who owns Fantasy of Flight is Kermit Weeks who has in his collection over 160 aircraft, that’s a few stories! We were lucky and got to work with some really cool planes including the one up above the Shorts Sunderland. This plane usually never comes out of the hanger, thankfully there was an event that weekend and it had to come out for space. This plane used to fly but unfortunately it hasn’t been flown in some time making it in need of repairs now. It’s still a great plane, massive but great!
The night we flew in which was Friday night, there was a massive thunderstorm that went through the area and Saturday morning when we went to the airfield we had a nice layer of fog. The fog is just a great backdrop for the planes. The airfield already is super clean with a lake and trees in the background and of course the best part is no fences! The addition of the fog creates this feeling or allusion of being back in England on a cold morning right before battle, which is quite nice with some of the planes we were working with including the P51C Mustang and the TP-40. The Duck was a favorite of Dad’s for some time so naturally he wanted to photograph it. Thanks to Kermit we were able to.
The major highlight for the workshop was the P51C Mustang. Photographing the Duck, Sunderland, TP-40, and a few other planes, was absolutely marvelous but the P51C was just beautiful. The amount of detail and time spent in this plane is obvious. The plane is painted in the colors of the Tuskegee Airmen, in particular it was painted in the colors of the groups ace Lee Archer. Although not seen here, the plane actually has his signature on the armor platting in the cockpit. Most of the morning was actually spent around this plane. Once the sun came up and the fog left we spent hours working these planes from the ground all the way up to the top of a ladder. It was amazing. This one plane took over an hour to shoot all the angles and details, and even then i know there were images missed.
Like i said the sun rose and the fog began to disperse. In a normal morning shooting statics we tend to spend a couple of hours at location. Usually before sunrise to 8am or 9am. Not long, a couple of hours and then it’s breakfast. Well this morning was so good that we arrived at 6am and didn’t leave until 10am when the museum actually opened to the public. It was that good of a shoot, no one wanted to stop. I can honestly say that there are more images in my files then there is time to process them and put them up on my blog. The last plane that caught my eye, was of course the PBY which had a great background with the ground fog. I still love this plane, can’t wait to see it in the air, and i thought i would share it with you all.