Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Blue Angels 2008 Calendar

I just finished work on my first 2008 calendar so far! Of course, being the Blue Angels fan that I am, this first installment features the 2007 US Navy Blue Angels!

If you're interested, please click here for a complete discription!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Photo Tips Part II: Shutter Speed

This post is for those of you with a camera which allows the shutter speed to be set by the user. When it comes to aviation photography many people natually think you want the fastest shutter speed possible to stop the action. This is only partially true. For jets, I generally shoot in Aperture Priority mode (Av) and when using my Sigma 50-500mm I try to keep it right at F/8. This seems to give me the sharpest pictures and is still reasonably fast even in poor weather conditions. On bright days I take advantage of exposure compensation to help ensure no light-colored areas get over-exposed. Since there are no moving parts on the jets (other than control surfaces of course) there really isn't that much of a need to blur anything on the aircraft. Even when it is close to the ground the jet is still moving fast enough to have a good bit of motion blur in the background, even at high shutter speeds.

Propeller driven aircraft and helicopters are another story. These you actually want to use a slow shutter speed (no faster than 1/125 second!) so that you can see at least a partial blurring of the propeller/rotor blades. Shooting at this speed requires a great bit of panning skills and requires a lot of practice in order to become consistant. The general rule of thumb in photography regarding blurring by camera shake is to use a shutter speed equal to the length of the lens. So when I'm shooting at the 500mm end of my lens I should shoot no slower than 1/500 second to eliminate camera shake. Needless to say that isn't really an option when trying to catch a full arc of rotation on a propeller driven aircraft. One piece of equipment that may help you out is a monopod. Just like a tripod but - you guessed it - it only has one leg. This makes live as an aviation photographer much easier - especially if your lens doesn't have some sort of stabilizing feature.

The picture above shows the full arc of rotation as a Beech Bonanza begins its takeoff roll at full power. This was shot with my Sigma 50-500mm lens in Shutter Priority (Tv) mode at 1/60 second.

This picture shows only a partial blur of the propeller as this Cessna 172 taxis out to the runway at low power. This was shot at a shutter speed of 1/125.

The main thing is to get at least some sort of blur on the propeller. If the prop is still it looks like the airplane is either stopped on the ground or had an engine failure. To practice hand-holding the camera at this slow speed you can go out to your local freeway and practice on passing cars. Start out at 1/125 and shoot at that speed until you can sonsistantly get a nice, sharp photograph. Then try the next lowest speed. A few cumulative hours of this and you'll be ready to be handholding pictures as low as 1/50 second and have them come out crystal clear and sharp.

Airshow pictures posted!

Well, I got all of the pictures processed and updated to my web gallery now! To view the pictures I have available for purchae, click here. I have pictures of Sean D. Tucker and Team Oracle, Renny Price, Classic Jets MiG-17, Red Bull MiG-17, Jet Provost, F-15 Eagle, and many more!

Monday, August 20, 2007


I thought now would be a good time to do this. If any of you are curious as to what equipment I shoot with, here it is:

Canon Rebel XT - 51,000 shutter activations and still going strong!
Counting down 'till I get myself a Canon 40D :D
Sigma 50-500mm
Sigma 10-20mm
Canon 18-55mm
Canon 430EX Flash
Wolverine FlashPac 7000 60GB
Cordless remote

That's it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

US Navy Blue Angels

18 inches wingtip to canopy

As I hinted in a previous entry, the pictures from this last weekend turned out remarkable! I couldn't be more pleased with the pictures I got. Again I ask for patience as I sort through them and upload them to my gallery. Not only do I have 4,700+ pictures to go through, but my aunt is also visiting for the next two weeks and I'm finally able to spend some time with here and show her some cool sights in the area.

In Thrust I Trust

But, Just for fun, I've attached a couple pics as teasers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Oregon International Airshow pt. 2

One of the greatest parts of airshows is seeing other people who are passionate about flying. Working in the industry myself, I find it quite sad that there are so few people who get excited about what they do. My yearly airshow fixes help put things back into perspective for me. I was able to meet a great deal of people this past weekend at Oregon and it was such a breath of fresh air to see you so excited about aviation. My only wish is that you would go after that excitement and learn to fly yourselves. One of the remarkable things about aviation in 2007 is the fact that literally ANYONE can learn to fly. There are inexpensive airplanes to fly for those on a tight buget who simply want to get airborne, and there are airplanes you can train in that will make your head dance! It's only a matter of will power and patience.

For only $60 any of you can go to an FBO (fancy name for flight school) and take your first introductory flight lesson where you can actually fly the airplane with an instructor--just to see if you like it! I started my flying career by doing this several times starting right after I turned 13. A private pilots license runs you around $6,000 these days and you can easily obtain student loans to help offset the cost. Depending upon your flying schedule this can take anywhere from two years to six months.

So, if you've ever wanted to at least get a taste of what it's like to fly an airplane, do not hesitate! Give it a try! There is no better time than right now! :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Oregon International Airshow, 2007

Wow, what a crazy last six days! 4,700 pictures later I've come to the conclusion that I will never be able to photograph another aviation event again. Every picture I take from this point on will be an attempt to match the pictures I captured this last week. I was VERY pleased with my results and have thousands of pictures that I will keep and through the next month(s?) I will be uploading them to my web gallery.

Right now I can only give a very brief overview of the pictures as it's late and I'm quite tired. Some of the subjects I photographed this week include the US Navy Blue Angels demonstration team, Greg Poe, Sean D. Tucker, Renny Price, the A-10 West Coast Demonstration Team, Homeland Fireworks display, Oregon Aero Skydancer, Oregon ANG F-15's, and one of the highlights of the show was the F-117A Nighthawk ("Stealth Fighter") flyby for two of the airshow days. The aircraft is being retired at the end of this year as the aircraft is already 25 years old. These two flybys marked the very last time I will ever see this jet again. :( It was kind of saddening, but after looking at the pictures I got, I was extremely pleased with the results.

Since I've obtained many pictures that made my own jaw drop (you photographers know that you're always your own worst critic) I've decided I'll start making several different 2008 year calendars. Also I will begin the process of putting together a Blue Angels photobook featuring pictures taken here in Seattle and at Hillsboro, Oregon.

Please stay tuned as I will be trying to get these pictures dealt with in a timely manner.

Thanks for checking in!