Low Level Aviation Photoshoot
My interest in photography began whilst photographing aircraft at an Airshow over Plymouth at the end of the 1980's. I don't go to as many shows as I did back then. I still really enjoy aviation, and alongside photography it remains an interest of mine.
Unless you are fortunate enough to have special access to airfields or aircraft it is likely that the best opportunity you will ever get to photograph aircraft is at an Airshow. I try to make my images hide the fact they have been taken at displays and try to include a natural background, which compliments the aircraft. The ultimate photoshoot for an aviation photographer has to be an air to air shoot, closely followed by low level ground to air work. So imagine my excitement when I was invited to take part in an exclusive low level air to ground shoot over Dartmoor.
It wasn't exactly your usual photoshoot, more like a bunch of lads wild camping, in less than perfect weather. As with all photographic subjects a certain amount of patience and perseverance is required, and today was no different. On a windy Tor above Burrator, four stalwart aviation and photography enthusiasts sheltered under pop up tents and tarps hoping the low cloud encasing their temporary camp would lift. I must say that we were treated considering the conditions to nothing less than a gourment BBQ of burgers and sausages! Four hours of gloomy damp hopelessness gave way to 60 minutes of joy as the cloud lifted enough for some of the planned aircraft to come in and play before our lenses. In many ways waiting made the final outcome all the more rewarding.
Having photographed extensively at air shows I had no concerns about shutter speeds, apertures or the technical aspects of the shoot but composing images along an unpredictable flight path looking for good backgrounds and considering how the final image will look presented new challenges and exciting opportunities. This unpredictability of the shoot created by the freedom allowed to the pilots; not tied to a rigid crowd and controlling display box meant they could approach from any direction and take any route giving due consideration to health and safety. And as the photographs displayed here show they did not disappoint.
It was also the first time I had used my new lens a Canon 70-300 L series. I have for many years used and still use Sigma lenses, and honestly for cost effectiveness you will struggle to get better. As I look towards the future and consider what camera upgrades may come, I need to upgrade my optics first to ensure that I get the best possible results from the new sensors, and top class glass has to come first. The Canon performed brilliantly, with fast and near silent focusing, the results are pin sharp, probably helped by the image stabiliser, another first for me. I'm sure this lens has much. More to offer when I get used to it.
The less than perfect lighting conditions, moody skies and Dartmoor backdrop suited my style of photography and allowed me to work in my beloved monochrome, making the images that but more personal. In post processing is great being able to work in my own style, and mixing up aviation and landscape photography was a real treat.
Team Raven provided close formation fly pasts, getting low enough to capture the Dartmoor landscape in the background. The amazing agility of the Autogyro display low over Burrator provided an interesting backdrop to show off the aircraft against. And final fast pass by the Strikemaster (Not shown). The day has relit my love of aviation photography and although there were a couple of planned aircraft missing due to the weather my passion for aviation photography has once again been awakened, and I look forward to future opportunities. ( Hint to pilots and event organisers everywhere! ).
B17 The Mighty 8th Photographic Project Released
I have completed my B17 Photography Project. And please to be able to present it to you as series of 5 Sill photographs and a short Audio Visual Presentation. See it here now!