It Pays to Get Up Early

This has been one weird weather year! Every time someone thinks they have it figured out something changes. We went from a cold winter to a cold and wet spring, to a blast of heat followed by a wet summer and now in August, the temps at night have been barely above 50. Only in Montana does it seem to change this much. I know everyone says that about where they live but it sure feels that way this year in the Rockies. The one major benefit of this unique summer is how it has affected the atmosphere. Thunderstorms during sunset and ground fog in the mornings. Over the last few years, I have been going to the Three Forks Flyin and this was the first year where there was ground fog at the beginning of August at sunrise. It was pretty darn cool!

Images captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film 

One Lens For It All?

Of course you can! Many an airshow I have spent walking around with the 200-400 VR slung around my shoulder looking for those moments worth capturing both on the ground and in the air. In some cases that’s just too much lens so the question is is there a lens that can do it all or can YOU do it all with one lens? It really comes down to the event. Each airshow and flyin has it’s own restrictions as far how close you can get to the flight line. Flyins tend to be a little less restrictive but that relies on YOU being safe around the aircraft. Remember no photograph is worth getting yourself or anyone else hurt. Now this flyin I was able to get pretty close to the subjects so I had no problem using the 70-200 VRII for a lot of my shooting. From people, to statics, to flight shots you just have to practice and really look for those hidden moments where everything comes together but it can be done.

How Do You Work With Planes in Harsh Light?

Well it’s a simple enough question that demands a good answer because anyone that has been to an airshow can tell you that there is a lot going on throughout the day and the majority is happening when there is harsh light. Most people fly airplanes when there is a lot more light out, we photographers are kind of picky and only want the best light in the early morning and evening. But the rest of the crowd tends to sleep in and get there later in the day. So how do you cope? For starters you can’t be afraid to go out in the harsh light. Be smart and picky with your subjects, don’t just blast away. No one needs a hardrive full of bad images trying to find that one.

Next up, watch your backgrounds. Try to minimize the amount of background by not shooting real wide or angling up. If you can look for clean background with colors that aren’t in the blue gamut range you’ll make your life a whole lot easier. It’s real easy to have washed out blues in the middle of the day.

Always remember that under exposing in the camera is your best friend and finally be smart with your finishing. Thanks to the tools in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom, like the shadow slider, shooting in the middle of the day is a whole lot easier. These are just a few things that I have noticed from my time on the tarmac but there is always more if you go out and play.

Images Captured with Nikon D5, 70-200 VRII on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Long Lens Portrait

How do you approach a portrait? Is the end result going to represent a style or mood or is the image going to tell a story? What’s the purpose of the image. These are very important questions to think about when doing a portrait because portraits are often very personal photographs to the people in the photograph. One tool I like to use, especially in a crowded setting, to isolate just a couple of people is long lens.

Dad likes to call this Sniper Mode because instead of going wide with like a 24-70 AF-S, you use something longer like a 70-200 VRII to isolate just those areas of interest. Hank and Tim are my examples here. They were just enjoying a beer after a long day at the flyin. Simple story that kind of sums up the day. You couldn’t get it with a wide angle lens getting close but you could with a long lens.

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