Sorry for the delay in blogs but the last couple of days have been crazy busy getting everything done from the Air Races. Of course having to drive back up to Montana tends to suck up some time as well. The nice thing about the drive is the potential for some great images, but more on that later. I love prop planes. Doesn’t really matter which ones because each one has a great sound to it that you just don’t get with jets. That sound just adds that much more character to the planes. Well over the last few years at the races, Dad and I have been bringing our big lenses to photograph the planes at the end of the T hangars. With the big glass we get a great perspective that you can’t get with the 200-400. The big difference is being able to isolate the background. With the great clouds the first couple of days having that background made the planes standout.
In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 600f/4, TC-17E, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
Whether the planes are new or old, biplanes are still fun planes to watch. One of the racing groups at Reno is the biplane class and although not my favorite they are still a lot of fun. It’s because of their symbolic bi wing design that makes them so eye catching. Even today with modern wing design, improved fuselage and engine designs the biplanes still symbolize that golden era of flight.
In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 600f4, TC-17E II, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
It’s always good to have an outlet for your images no mater what the outlet is. With all the processing I’m doing I decided it would be a good time to put up a few new galleries and park a few more planes in The Shed. The L39 and P40 are not new but I did expand both of their galleries with new images. The PITTS S-1, TS-11 Iskra and L29 Delfin are all new to the site. Each of those planes i have photographed for the last couple of years but am just now having an outlet worthwhile to put them in. Hope you like em.
There really isn’t anything that compares to the Air Races, it truly does stand out on its own. Besides the volume of aircraft that comes to the event, the access we media guys get is just great. Unlike most airshows where there is a rope that we always have to be behind at Stead we get to go right up to the planes. One of the most unique features, which truly makes the Air Races what they are is getting to go out to the Pylons where the planes fly around and shoot from the base up at them.
As the day moves forward we rotate around the different pylons. There is an outer and inner course for the various planes types. The inner course is used by the biplanes, formula one, sport, T6 and part of the Super Sport. It’s very diffuclt to shoot, the planes go by and you follow with them. The challenging part is the steady panning needed to go with the planes as any prop plane needs a slower shutter speed in order to get a blur in the blades. The biplanes are by far my favorites that go around the inner course except for the T6’s. Sports are cool, no doubt but I tend to lean more towards the classic fighter look.
There was one exception this time around, a new plane that none of us had seen before at the pylons. This is a Radial Rocket which has a great look to it. We all gravitated toward it looking like a P47 or even a Hawker Sea Fury. It definitely had that great fighter look to it. Unfortunately I didn’t get many good clicks of the plane. Hopefully it will be there at Reno this year for another crack at it.
Then of course is the T6’s. The T6’s have been a favorite for some time. This year there were eight T6’s at PRS and 4 of them belonged to our good friend Denis Beuhn. Denis is quite a character and won the T6 gold last year. The silver T6 is the newest edition to his fleet fits his style perfectly. What with a red, blue, and yellow plane why not a silver one to balance out the mix. Even though the T6 Texan is a rather common warbird it is great that he keeps so many of them going.
The one unlimited that grabbed the most attention was Rod Lewis’s F7F Tigercat. This is one massive fighter that is flying around the pylons with ease. The unlimiteds and jets are the two classes that most tend to enjoy the most myself included, because we get to be out at pylon 4 which is locally known as the ridge. It’s the one spot where we get to see the planes coming right down at us. It’s a really freakin cool experience seeing them come screaming down at you.
With every plane comes it’s own unique challenge. Once you’re past the composition and frustration of having or not having clouds, subtle details start popping out. For instance the jets require a faster shutter speed so aperture priority is a must, even then they scream by. The unlimiteds and sports require a more controlled shutter speed in order to get that prop blur so you must be in shutter priority. I’ve forgotten how many images i have had to throw away because i couldn’t pan fast enough at those low speeds. Then there are the biplanes, which have a prop and require the same technique but with one distinct difference. They have two wings!!!
Why is this so important? Well if you look closely at both images you’ll see the pilots head cut off partly by that second wing. Last time i checked it takes more than just a forehead to fly a plane, i could be wrong but lets pretend I’m not and am actually using more than just my forehead right now. Working with this type of plane requires to look for those angles that show off the head. The plane has to have a pilot, otherwise it’s a model. Are there cases where it doesn’t matter of course, are some cockpits tinted yes, even so these small details really can make a difference in the photographs making them that much stronger.