Archive for June, 2012|Monthly archive page

Friday Funnies – June 15th


He Went . . . That Way!

It’s all fun and games to the spectators at the air shows, but it’s a deadly serious business to the performers.

These men and women are true athletes in every sense of the word – think of the strength, endurance – and guts – it takes to perform these stunts.  These performers are also carrying on a tradition that extends back to just after the first world war, although there were some early pioneers such as Didier Masson, Lincoln Beachey and Glenn Curtiss.

“Barnstormers” delighted the crowds, gave rides and introduced the upcoming generation to the thrill of flying and the importance of air power.

Looking for some good clean family fun for next Saturday’s movie night?  Be sure to check out Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines! A great movie from 1965.

And the next time you see these guys on the ground after an air show, take the time and pay them their due.

Stay Focused,



Friday Funnies – June 8th


Get off my back . . . WILL YA!

With photography, always expect the unexpected.  Keep your camera handy and at the ready, for you never know when a situation will turn “interesting”.

This doe approached just a little too close to a Redwing Blackbird’s nest.  It started with a few “dive-bombing” approaches – which I was expecting – but I didn’t see the landing coming.  I don’t think the doe expected it did either, she swung around and proceeded to have a discussion.

Oh, and just to pat myself on the back a little bit . . . this image was a North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) 2011 Top 100 Showcase Winner!

Stay in focus,


Airshow Basics

2012 2012 09 02 02 | 11 57 54 | B65E5563Birds of a different feather . . .

Air shows are a great excursion for the family – and a super way to extend your photography into new areas.  Here are tips and tricks to get you started.

Job #1 take care of yourself

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and not realize you’re getting over heated so take care.

  • Protection from the sun
    • Even on an overcast day, the dangers are there
  • Stay hydrated
    • Drink more than you think you need.  Waiting until you get thirsty is not good enough
  • Stay comfortable
    • Clothing that is light and breathable
    • Good walking shoes – you will be doing some “walking”
    • Accessories
      • Chairs, sun glasses and ear protection – to name just a few
  • Check the air show website for FAQ’s, it’s not uncommon for a show to prohibit bags – you may have have to hump your equipment in without your camera bag.


  • Lens selection
    • Short lens: something in the 24-70 or 24-105 range
      • Plenty of opportunities for wide angle crowd shots as well as static displays
    • In-flight lens: a 70-200 is minimum but a 70-300 is a better choice.  A lens that get you up to 400 is optimum
      • You’ll want a variable telephoto as the aircraft are constantly changing positions

B83H4987  Version 2

  • Camera body
    • Whatever you shoot with is fine
    • Bring an extra, fully charged battery
    • A comfortable strap (remember, you might not have your camera bag with you)

Some Basic Tips

  • Camera Settings:
    • Focusing Mode: AI Servo (as Canon calls it) is mandatory.  These guys fly pretty fast!
    • Multiple shots: set you camera to take images as fast as it can – you’ll want to select from the best of a sequence
    • Aperture: it can be hard when you need light, but you don’t want to shoot too close to your maximum aperture.  With even a single aircraft, you could need 12-20 feet of depth of field to get the entire ship in focus.
      • Single aircraft: f/8 is minimum, assuming a good distance between you and the aircraft in flight.
      • Multiple aircraft: f/11 is minimum, but f/14 is a safer choiceWhistling Death    Japanese nickname for the plane that ruled the pacific skies
    • Shutter speed:
      • This one deserves a dedicated post (on its way) but some basics are:
        • Jets: you’ve got latitude here, use as fast a shutter as you can
        • Prop: this is where it gets challenging.  You want to see the prop “blur” in your shot.  This can require shutter speeds as low as 1/250th or lower.  But you need to have your panning technique down cold in order to ensure the aircraft itself is in focus
  • Harsh light
    • Most air shows take place during the middle of the day, not much you can do about it.  Here are a couple things to look into though:
      • Evening shows: many air shows will have a Friday night event at dusk – take advantage of these!
      • Get to the show very early.  Usually aircraft will be flying in during the early morning hours, including static displays.  This could allow you a shot or two with some good light

Four Flight

  • Expose for the aircraft – don’t worry if everything else is blown out or blocked up


  • Composition considerations
    • Leave room to fly into.  Don’t butt the nose of the ship right up against the edge of your frame
    • Look for different angles, including aircraft flying away from you – unlike animals or people, there is no “head angle” to worry about!

Falcon    Weapons Hot

Pre-Show Tips

  • Check on show locations and dates
    • Especially the time the gates open
  • Special seating
    • Some shows (for a price) have VIP seating that can also include shelter and beverages
  • Flight line seating, get there early
    • Pay attention to the gate opening time.  If you don’t have VIP seating, you’ll want to get there early to grab a spot right on the flight line

In upcoming posts, we’ll also take a deeper look at more advanced considerations

Check back soon for these informative posts.

Stay in focus,


Friday Funnies – June 1st


A stick . . . you brought me a stick . . . awwwww . . . I Love You!

Make sure you take the time to study your animal subjects – the behavior can be fascinating (and even inspiring).  These herons are a perfect example – they have specific rituals not just to mating, but nest building as well.  One gathers and then hands off the building material, the other takes the material and adds it to their nest.

Stay in focus!