How to Get Great Static Shots This Weekend

This coming weekend is the Planes of Fame Airshow in Chino, CA. I have gone to this two-day event for many years and since I started going it was always the highlight of that year. They cram a lot of planes and a lot of flying into those two days. Each year has a different theme which generally entails different aircraft showing up. Two of my most favorite years was in honor of the P-38 and P-47 Thunderbolt. You’ll see more of the Thunderbolt in another post.

Now many of you might be wondering how to make the most of those two days and get the best shots that you can. Well for starters get the sunrise photo pass. Some of the best warbird statics that I’ve gotten have been from that early day pass. I know it’s another cost to justify but it is worth it! At PoF they have two static ramps that you can get some amazing down the line shots that you just can’t get at other places. You can get detail shots, plane portraits, group shots, you name it. As you can see there is a yellow rope that prevents you from walking around the plane but honestly, I’ve never found that to be a problem in the past. The Northeast static ramp is open early and throughout part of the day. It’s a great place to walk around and work with different planes. My preferred setup is the D5 with the 24-70 or 70-200 but that hasn’t stopped me in the past from using the 200-400 either.

A Different Year But a Similar Image

It’s funny how time repeats itself. Two years ago at Planes of Fame I saw this image of a P-38 with the tower behind it and the neon lights giving off starbursts. Well on the last day I was up for sunrise photographing the statics and I couldn’t help but notice the same situation present itself.

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This time it was the CAF SoCal’s Spitfire MkXIV that was the subject. Using the D4s and 24-70 AF-S, it was a single click with max depth to bring out more of the starburst. Of course a tripod helped with this also. The image was finished with ACR and PSW CC.

The Return of the Military Performers

Yes! Finally after much waiting the military performers are back and they are a welcome sight. I’m not a huge jet fan but I do enjoy when the come out and do their demos. The F-22 is one that always has my attention. First off it just has a bad ass look. when flying, static, profile or even from the tail it just looks like it means business. Then once it starts its performance you just can’t keep your eyes off it.

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Using the D4, 200-400 VR and SunSniper Strap, I really like this combo, it’s pretty darn simple to get that shot of this plane. Unlike when photographing prop powered aircraft, jets are very simple. Why is that? Well I can shoot in aperture priority at 1/1500th a second and that fast shutter speed makes a huge difference. I can’t do that with a prop plane because I want that prop to be blurred not frozen. Pilots don’t like frozen props and somehow they have this uncanny ability to always find images of their planes. This means having to shoot in shutter priority at less then 1/125th to get a blur. This past weekend it was 1/80th and 1/60th the whole time. Now I’ll be honest I ended throwing a lot away due to being a little rusty but the keepers, as you can see in my last blog post, have great props.

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I’ve seen a lot of great heritage flights but this one I really liked. It was just a great combo between the rugged P-47 “Jug” Thunderbolt, the P-51D Mustang, the Fork Tailed Devil P-38 Lightning, and the F-22 Raptor. From then till now it was great to see the evolution.

The Mighty Eighth

The whole theme of this years show was solute to the Mighty Eighth. The Eighth Air Force based out of several bases throughout England were responsible for breaking German manufacturing throughout WWII. The Eighth, although not the first to commit to daylight bombing operations, were the first to make daylight bombing raids effective. The British had tried daylight bombing and found that the losses were too great for the reward. With the need to keep planes in the sky over the enemy the British switched to night time bombing raids. Many considered this to be the best way to fight for night time bombing greatly reduced the risk for the bombers as they did not have to deal with enemy fighters. However, accuracy dropped during such raids so the USAAF, through much debate, stuck to daylight bombing. The main aircraft for such roles was the B-17 Flying Fortress.

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You can’t have a solute to the Eighth without these big birds and as luck would have it two showed. The B-17G Flying Fortress Sentimental Journey out of CAF Airbase Arizona and the B-17G Flying Fortress Fuddy Duddy out of Lyon Air Museum were at the Planes of Fame for the Airshow. Both days included a time slot where planes from the European theater flew. Besides the B-17’s, P-51’s, P-47’s, a P-63, a P-40 and even a Focke Wulf were up in the sky at once. It was pretty darn impressive to see how many planes were up in the sky. In total 52 warbirds were at the show.

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All of this was shot with a handheld D4, 200-400 VR and a SunSniper Strap. One thing to really notice and watch for when photographing planes with polished aluminum fuselages is how the light changes on such a surface and where the shadows are. Both of these planes have a polished fuselage and during the panning of the plane there was a time when you could see the light not curve around the plane but streaked across it which wasn’t as pleasant. When the skies are filled with planes and you don’t want to waste an opportunity training your eyes to know when to click and when not to is can really make a difference.

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