Monday, October 14, 2019

STOL Race Class

STOL (Short TakeOff and Landing) Drag Racing is a new class of racing at Reno.  At the time of this year's races, it was more of an exhibition show, however it didn't take long for the class pilots and the crowd to express their enjoyment with the format.  It is now an official class or racing.
Apparently STOL racing has been going on for a few years in the high deserts of Nevada.  There is a group of pilots who get together who test their skills, and aircraft, at an event called the High Sierra Fly-In.
The racing aircraft are working aircraft.  These aircraft are flown every day.  Many of the modifications appear to be 'home made' to make the aircraft more versatile.  The goal is to get into and out of places no one else can.   For the pilots, there are hundreds of flight hours involved.
The drag race is between two aircraft over a 2,000 foot, plus or minus a few, straight line course.  The goal is to start at a point, take off, fly the 2k foot distance, land past a point such as a painted line, come to a complete stop on the line of flight with the tail wheel on the ground, turn the aircraft around with power while keeping the tail wheel on the ground, fly to the start line and stop in the line of flight.  The end of the race is the first aircraft to come to a stop and get the tail wheel on the ground.  Got it?
When the rules were explained to me, I didn't connect the dots right away.  But after seeing one race, I could see there is much more strategy involved that just going fast and turning left.  Not that is anything wrong with that.
Strategy points:  Get to speed quickly.  Lose that speed quickly.  Stop without running the propeller into the ground by tipping the aircraft forward.  Add enough power to turn airplane 180 degrees, while keeping tail wheel on the ground.  Much of the strategy can't be seen from the viewing stands.  One strategy that can be seen is the post take off acceleration and the pre-landing slow down.   And it is fun to watch.
After the take off phase, prior to landing the pilot will literally throw the aircraft sideways to slow it down.  And keep it moving toward the landing area.
The drag race course was the unpaved area between the taxi way and active runway.
These shots are all pretty much the same settings, 1/320 seconds, f/13.

Usually in these races, you can't tell who the winner is.  There really is no finish line, per se.  First one to stop.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Four off the Floor

One of the better parts, for me, at the MIHA event yesterday was meeting the event's official photographer.  We had a few hours of interesting conversation.  Clearly, he did not see me as a threat.  I didn't ask any trade secrets.  During our conversation, I did ask where some of the better angles for shots would be for the Cloverleaf event.  The photographer was very knowledgeable of the event and the arena.  He suggested a few places, what I would see in each place and where to stay away from.  Very cool information.
When it was suggested to me by a photo club member that this would be a fun shoot, the only advice I was given (more of a directive) was don't use flash.  And that made sense to me.  Last thing I want to do do is startle a 1500 lb critter.  Oh yea, and maybe ruin a kid's career.  And I'm OK with not using a flash.  I have a nice flash unit, but it is very rarely used.
Wait, what?

Wasn't me.  It was the guy who takes pictures at these events for a living.  I was shooting 7 FPS at this time.  We matched.  Sure, the image is a bit off on my end, but that's what you get when you use flash and 10000 ISO.  Anyway, moral of the story is the horses and riders at this level don't startle easy.
Back to the real purpose of the post.  In my conversations with the photographer, he was nice enough to tell me some of the things people look for in a photograph.  One of those shots would be where all four hoofs are off the ground at the same time.  And he told me where in the Cloverleaf pattern I would see this.  He also said, not every horse and rider is capable of this coming together and I'd be lucky enough to catch it.  In fact, there would be very few opportunities.
I had a mission.
Here are the three I have with all four off the ground.

Four off the Floor #1
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15 /18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6
82 mm, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 10000
EV +2, MANUAL Mode, Size DX

Four off the Floor #2
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15 /18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6
82 mm, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 10000
EV +2, MANUAL Mode, Size DX

Four off the Floor #3
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15 /18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6
82 mm, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 12800
EV +2, MANUAL Mode, Size DX

Fun part of the event, and lots of good 'horse' type photos.  Great practice and stretching the D500's abilities.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Helping Hand

Had a wonderful day today at the Michigan Interscholastic Horsemanship Association (MIHA) State Finals.  I'm still very much a novice at what I saw today, but I do know more about the event than I did 24 hours ago.
I'll get to more about the event in later posts.  Tonight I had to work on something photographic specific.  It is not going to wait until tomorrow.
Today. the D500 and I went to places we've never been before with regard to low lighting.  The event is held in covered arenas, with the main arena open to light on only one side.  I arrived just after 8:00 AM, just in time for the National Anthem.  It was not a pretty day.  Overcast, damp and early.
The short version is I spent the first three hours fiddling with exposure settings to match the lighting.  What speed do I need for this?  And what ISO can I live with?  The only thing I had an idea on was aperture.  This is a lot different than a sunny day in Reno.
The shutter actuated 1,180 times today.  The bad news is I have a lot of throw away images.  The good news is I will be able to see a real world examples of the ISO settings from the D500.  I think, or at least I tried to manipulate the settings enough to, I have many combinations of trading speed for ISO to evaluate.  
The first round of looking at the images went well.  Nothing out of focus.  Some of the subjects are a bit fuzzy, but those are low speed shots.  All in the name of learning something new today.
In the end, I was shooting 1/500 sec with ISO at 12.5k.  That's not a typo.  I think the highest previous ISO was 11.4k for an indoor train shot.  Doable.  That's good, 'cause I have more at this level and higher.
But this was 'fast' action.  Would that make a difference?  Yea, a full frame would be nice, but I have what I have.
And that is what this post is about.  Can I save an image with that high of an ISO?
This was a fun picture.  The most interesting part of the day, for me, was the Cloverleaf event, maybe better/also known as Barrel Racing.  I think I have some wonderful shots.
Many of these kids are very good.  Many others will pay their dues and get to be good.  As you could tell, this wasn't their first rodeo.  (Yes, I said that.)
This rider was in the process of being assessed a five second penalty for knocking over one of the barrels.  Only in the process of.  Then, this rider had the presence of mind to stabilize the barrel while riding.  The cynic in me says this was not the first time that the horse and rider had come into contact with a barrel.  But it is what it is, and they saved a five second penalty.  Awesome.  

Helping Hand
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15/18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6
90 mm, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 10000
EV +2, MANUAL Mode, Size DX

I'm not sure this would print all that well.  On a small screen and the monitors it shows up well.  On the monitor the shot is soft because of the noise removal.  The good news I have lots of shots to work on noise removal and develop a technique to manage it.  Winter is coming, and I have something to work on.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thunderbird 6 Ship Formation in Overcast Sky

On the last day of the Air Races this year, the sky was more overcast that the previous days.  One reason I didn't take so many shots this year was, in the case of the Thunderbirds, I have plenty of Thunderbird shots against a clear blue sky.  I really wanted to see the show, without the camera between me and subjects.  But I was ready for the cross shots, can never have enough of them, and new formations.  With the overcast, I did take a good number of shots.
The overcast resolved a number of photographic issues.  No hot spots to remove.  In the Thunderbird case, the sun on the white paint scheme really plays with the camera metering.  OK, I lose some light but the camera can handle it.
Sure, there is a lot of optical illusion here but these aircraft are pretty close.  I like this image, for some reason the light from the overcast makes the aircraft look more 'real' to me.  There is mass, there is depth.

Thunderbird 6 Ship Formation in Overcast Skies
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15/70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6
262 mm, 1/2500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 220 (Auto)
EV 0, MANUAL Mode, Size, DX

Looking forward to the 2020 airshow season.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

#1225 Cadillac Express

Yesterday I had a chance, for a fee, to ride the #1225.  Wonderful experience.
The Cadillac Express is a one day out and back adventure from Mt. Pleasant to Cadillac.  Time in the train car for both legs is just under 6 hours.  Quick math give me that about 3 hours per leg.  That's a long time for a trip that is about 60 minutes in a car one way.  But the train is limited to 35 MPH, even though it was designed for 60 MPH and more.  Apparently this speed limitation is a federal regulation that deals with the weight of the steamer on the rails.  The weight of the Steamer is quite different from that of current day diesel-electric models.  The tracks have not been maintained for the Steamers.  In the end, the day is limited by speed.
The ride was surprisingly smooth.  And quiet.  
The car I rode in (#5447) was built in 1954.  It was built in Canada for the Canadian National Railway passenger services.  This car was obtained earlier in 2019 by the Steam Railroading Institute.  The car is still going through restoration, but the interior was more than adequate for the day's adventure.
Any plans made for Michigan in October are iffy at best.  So, weather-wise the day could have been better with the morning's sun can light breeze all day.  Or the entire day could have been as the last half with threatening skies and gusty winds.  So a day with half and half is OK.  The pictures for the day start with great light, then.........
In the parking lot, we had the hobo band to keep us entertained while we were waiting to board.  The trio would roam the cars all day with their music.

I had no expectations of any good 'engine' shots during the ride.  Lots of photographers, like me, were on this ride and as I would find out later there were very few places to take good shots of the engine from within the train.  There was only one real good 'bend' in the entire trip where we could see the engine from the car.  My plan was to get the engine at rest, in the beginning and in Cadillac.  Just enjoy the ride.

When we arrived in Mt. Pleasant the engine was totally blocked from our side of the Chippewa River.  I wasn't sure I could make it to a good viewing place on the other side of the river and back to the train in time so I didn't venture about.  At some point, one of the SRI folks came through the lines stating that the train would be moving back in a few minutes for the passenger loading.  That's all I needed to hear.  Back to the field next to the river.  I wasn't disappointed.
Prior to moving, there was a loud rush of steam.  Camera ready.

This was awesome.  Nice greens, nice blue sky, sunlight and the white to gray of the steam - and that's working just the photographic side of my mind.  The smell, the noise, the vibrations and the engineering were working on the left side of the brain.  If it could come back just a bit more?

And it did.  And there was a steam release.  Awesome.

Already thinking of next year's photos from across the river.

At this time, the cars were loading.  On to my car, #5447 - with the nickname of Comet.

Some three and a half hours later, we were in Cadillac.  Along the way there were wonderful scenes of back yards, farmland, small towns and some color.  (If the trip was two weeks later this year, color boom.)  Along the way, at most intersections were the train chasers.  And in a few places, I saw what were probably hunters (bow season is open I'm told) looking out of tree stands and from behind trees.  C asked me if that is what I was doing last November and December when I was chasing the #1225 during the Polar Express season.  Why, yes it was.  None of the train chaser pictures came out to where I'd work with them other than for the sake of the day's story.  But the chasers were part of the day.  We'd see many of the same people at multiple places, the cars matching speeds where they could.  There are some serious chasers out there.  I am not in their league.  Yet?  Maybe?

So we arrived in Cadillac, on time.  No excuses about headwinds, gate confusion, storms or late take offs.  On time.

We had a two, two and a half hour stop over.  After we unloaded, the train departed Cadillac and did some of that train magic where the engine, cars and cabooses all had to switch directions for the return trip.  After a quick lunch and some tourism, including a few shots of a Shay locomotive for another post, I took ground where I guessed it would be a good place for shots of the train coming back in to town.  During that time I could chat with some of the more seasoned chasers.  A lot of fun.
The #1225 coming into Cadillac.

Once the train was in Cadillac, then more fun started.  I can only equate this to a NASCAR professional pit stop.  People and equipment over the wall to get the vehicle ready for the next leg.  And that is what happened here.  One of the things that had to happen was water needed to be on loaded.  I was stuck in Hollywood thinking that 'special water machinery' was needed.  Nope.  Just hook up to a close by fire hydrant.  Good to go.  I'm fairly certain there was a city official there counting the gallons.  

I overheard a few important facts from one of the volunteers.  The #1225 goes through 150 gallons of water per mile.  Water returned to the atmosphere.  The water tender holds 22,000 gallons of water.  As for coal, the tender holds 22 tons, and the train consumes one ton every 12 miles.  Do the math for range, but enough fuel to get us back to Mt. Pleasant.
Back to the pit stop.  Seriously, there is a support team there.  I should say, the team and equipment travel with the train.  

On the right is the biggest dude handling the biggest air gizmo I've seen or heard.  I'm guessing it is an air powered grease gun.  The air used is in the tank above his head.  Loud.  I bet one release of grease would take the hand off a mere mortal.  So this team worked on one side, then moved as a team over to the other side when the maintenance was completed.

While this was going on one side, the other side was being tended to as well.

As you would think, along with our riding crowd, there were locals out to see the train stopped in town.  I did the best I could to keep my shots 'focused' on the subject, without distractions.  But to be fair, I have to show some of the locals.

A few hours later, we were back in Mt. Pleasant.

All in all a very nice trip.  The crew and volunteers were incredibly informative.  Great way to spend a day.

Friday, October 4, 2019

And now for something completely different....

The good news - I've had a great 2019 collecting images.  The end of 2018 saw a number of aircraft and nature images come into my collections as well.  With all these recent images to review, edit and write about one would thing that is a good thing, and it is and was.
The bad news - I've lost the time, and the effort, to develop the digital art side of the hobby.  I've had a lot of pictures I wanted spend time with.  In prior years, I could could play with HDR to 'alter' the looks of photographs, to make that my art.  I've missed that over the last few months.
In December of 2018 my art 'direction' was to be able to work a illustrative image.  I ended up purchasing a program to help me a along with that effort, that I often refer to as 'painting'.  Call it getting lazy, trying to get something out fast.  But while I was looking, I played with Photo Shop exploring all the filters, and colors, and shades - a lot of fun things that don't make the YouTube videos.
I had forgotten about this work until a few days ago when looking for photos to put in the Nine O Nine post.  I didn't post it in December.  Not sure why, maybe brain freeze?  But as I look at this image now, and what I was able to do with it - time to post.  
All I would say about this is it is how I would see a B-17, in it's own era looking at the skies awaiting its next call to serve.  Maybe it is too many movies, but I don't see many sunny days in the area around the aircraft.  It has a crappy job to do, but as the people who flew it they were going to do the best they could.  Dark.  If I cold draw, this would be it.

Looking Forward

I think this works,it does for me.  The photograph is OK, but in my head this tells the story a bit better.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

B17 - Nine O Nine

I heard the news that today a B-17 crashed.  Most other details after that were blurry.
I do believe, without apology to some new age thinking, that the WWII generation was the greatest generation.  It is a loss to greater humanity when one of dwindling numbers of these people transition to the next life.  White Shores.
I also believe just as much that the equipment used to see them through the struggles of war is disappearing almost as fast.
I enjoy so much seeing old war birds of that era.  On the ground.  In the air.  So much smoke, so much smell, so much sight.  I could watch them fly around the flagpole for hours.
Today's news of the loss of a B-17 is disheartening.
The Nine O Nine entered the US inventory destined for European theater in December 1943.  She was delivered to England as a replacement aircraft in February of 1944.  In January of 1986, the Collings Foundation acquired her and began the restoration process.  And in September 2015, our paths crossed.
And in the smaller world, I've been on the aircraft that was mortally wounded today.  In September of 2015, the Collings Foundation brought to WWII era bombers and one Mustang to Flint.  I was there.  The two bombers were a B-24J and a B-17G.  The Mustang was a P51-D.  I have photos of the inside of both aircraft.  I wasn't special, the public was invited in.  One of the best aircraft pictures I have the pilot's panel on the B-17.  The post is here.    I've used that image as a screen background for a few years.  I have an interesting of one engine that I used for a workflow post.  The post is here.   I have a nose on image that is on my rotation of screen savers, even after 5 years.  The post is here.  I did a B&W take on the bombardier's compartment.  The post is here.   I got a lot of photographic mileage out of that visit.
There are certain types of aircraft that I just plain like, aesthetically.  The F-22 Raptor might be the baddest aircraft out there today, but I'll take the F4 - Phantom any day.  Staying with the F-4 theme, the F-4U is my favorite WWII fighter.  (What a thrill it was to see one fly this year!)  And for the WWII bomber class, without a doubt it was the B-17.  No idea why - just is.  Sorry Liberator.
I'm guessing at this point there will be no saving this airframe.  The limited images I've seen so far are not good.  I would love to be wrong.
Some of the other images from that day in September 2015.

Nine O Nine on Display

Nine O Nine Nose Art

Nine O Nine Looking Forward

Nine O Nine Crowd Pleaser

Nine O Nine on Departure

Please spare me the comments about frozen props, I know that now.  I've worked on that aspect in my photographs over the last five years.  The camera used was a Nikon D90.  The lens was my walk around 18-200 DX.
Unfortunately there was life loss in this incident.  The details are still coming out.  
Hoping for a return to health for those who survived.  Thinking of those who were lost.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Laurel Mountain Fall Season - Nine Years Ago

October brings the fall season.  On the calendar, the fall season lasts roughly three months, right?  For me the fall season is the middle two weeks of October where, when nature is willing, the fall colors explode.  The timing is often shifting a bit depending on weather patterns, but vacation time can be booked in this time with a high confidence that some colors will be on display.  The tops of trees around where I live now are starting to turn.  We're about ten days or one cold night away from starting the color changing process.
As much as I like living in mid-Michigan, there is one place in Pennsylvania that can't be replaced at the top of the list of places I'd like to be at this time of year.
Back in the early days of my formative being, my grandparents purchased some property east of Ligonier.  On top of a mountain/ridge.  In the fall, I would walk the unimproved roads and trails with my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  The smell of decaying leaves and home fires have never left me.  I remember fondly the feel of a slight breeze, and the sting of driving rain and sleet.
Although our house had all the conveniences of modern housing, in the Fall we favored a fire for heat and camaraderie for entertainment.  We were on the outskirts of civilization where power and phone service could not be counted on once the weather turned bad.
I remember the color explosion of the leaves.  The bright reds, the sunlit yellows and the shades of orange against a blue sky.  Human sight is wonderful.  Memory, as long as I have it is pretty good also.
In 2010 I was fortunate enough to be at the Laurel Mountain Ski area for a day of hiking around.  The ski area had been closed for a few years.  I skied there many years ago when a season pass for a kid was around $10.  For years, the area was open for hiking.  On this day, the colors were at their height and the days was slightly cloudy.  Perfect.
Photographically, nine years ago I was shooting with a D90.  Great learning equipment.  Thanks to meta data, I can see I was shooting with a Tameron lens.  The Tameron experiment didn't last long before I switched to Nikon lens' for my use.  And for some reason, I was shooting in RAW format - and I probably didn't know what it was about.  I do know now, and thankfully I kept the files.  With improvements in software and nine years of experience, these images turned out OK.  Note to rookies, shoot RAW even if you don't know why (yet).  Looking at some of these settings, what was I thinking?  I was expecting to see AUTO.
These pieces of equipment and buildings are no longer standing.  They were removed in 2016 when the area was overhauled (snif) and new equipment was installed.  The area is now closed to hiking as far as I know.  If I ever get to explore the area again, it will be on rented skis.  In the sunshine.  Above freezing.
This is chair 15.  I have pictures of this scene, from different years where this chair is in the same position.

Chair 15 in the Fall
NIKON D90/TAMRON AF 18-270mm F3.5-6.3
27 mm, 1/320, f/13, ISO 400
EV -0.67, Aperture Priority, Size DX

The area of the hill where this lift was did not exist in the early days.  I did ski here once during the time of this lifts use.  I won't say I was a hot dog skier in those days, but I loved skiing under the chairs and yakking with the chair occupants.  They were short conversations.  It was a different time.

Laurel Fall Chair Narrow
NIKON D90/TAMRON AF 18-270mm F3.5-6.3
27 mm, 1/500, f/13, ISO 400
EV -0.67, Aperture Priority, Size DX

As tight as the previous picture is, I like the openness of this one.  And on the same day, in the same area, the colors here almost look painted.  Different weather patterns on the hill.

Laurel Fall Free Style Slope
NIKON D90/TAMRON AF 18-270mm F3.5-6.3
27 mm, 1/400, f/13, ISO 400
EV -0.67, Aperture Priority, Size DX

The D90 is a 12.3 MP camera.  Doesn't leave a lot of room for cropping, but the images seem to show up OK on the monitors.  I've become spoiled with the higher MP counts of the D7200 and D500.  Big difference.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Bring on the Train Spotting Season

The air show season is over.  The nature season is waning.  Bring on the trains.
The photo club did have an excursion earlier this year to see the #1225 in maintenance mode, but now getting itchy to see her in action.  
Last year, had a great time chasing the train around the area.  Unfortunately I entered the game a bit on the late side.  I won't make that mistake again this year.  I think I missed a few opportunities to get some pictures with snow - or a lot of snow - or fresh snow.  When the train starts making its weekend Polar Express runs, the leaves are down and the skies are gray.  The subject better be good and any help is appreciated.
The local train chase in the area will begin in mid-November, still a few weeks away.  The #1225 itself is out making the rounds other places in the State.  Next weekend it will be making a scenic trip from Mt. Pleasant to Cadillac.  (Shhh, C has a birthday coming up - and we have tickets for the day's trip.)  With any luck, the day will be great and the leaves will be turning to fall colors.
So to celebrate the beginning of the rail season (for me anyway, not sure if there is an official rail spotting season.), I went trough some shots from last year.  One of my most memorable days on the chase last year was a late December morning, some friends from the Club and I started the chase in Owasso.  We arrived in time to see the #1225 just out of the barn and being loaded with fuel (coal) for the day.
I like this first shot for a few reasons.  First, there is coal in the air falling out of the bucket.  Next, for all the 'greyness' in the shot, you have the orange traffic cone, the green safety vest and the blue engines to add some color.  The position of the CAT on top of the coal pile is interesting as well.  And call me lucky, but the headlight isn't totally blown.

Feeding the #1225
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15/18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6
150 mm, 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800
EV -1, APERTURE Priority, Size DX

One of the elements of the #1225 shots is the steam exhaust.  The more the better.  In still air, fantastic.  I played around with trying to bring out more contrast, definition in the steam.  I tried some HDR and other blending tricks, but in the end the original was the best for me.

#1225 on the Move
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15/18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6
90 mm, 1/800 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800
EV -1, APERTURE Priority, Size DX

One of the other elements I look for when at a location is the not so obvious angle, which is usually crowd or other photographer shots.  During my hour at this location, I did talk to the people pictured here.  No sense in asking if they were rail fans, it was cold and it was early.  Only fans are out at this time.

#1225 Fans
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15/18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6
62 mm, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800
EV -1, APERTURE Priority, Size DX

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

F18s at Reno

Between the races, there are airshow type events.  Many are military in nature.  There are more well known performers such as the Thunderbirds and Blue Angles.  There are also lesser known, but just as exciting and informative such as the F16 and F22 Demo Teams.  As I've mentioned before, I like the races and this year I learned to appreciate them more, but I don't miss the military shows.  No food runs, no bathroom breaks.  In the stands, ready to view.  No apologies.
As I look forward to the 2020 airshow tour, I'm excited that two stops will be military related.  The southern therapy tour in April will see me at the Charleston Joint Base Expo and after that I'll be introducing two of the younger family members to the airshow experience at the MCAS Cherry Point show in May.  Earplugs required.
Back to the races, one of the show events on the schedule was a F18 Demo.  The F18s are the current aircraft of the Blue Angles.  But the Blue Angles can't be everywhere, so there are Demo Teams that are mostly funded by the recruitment budget (I'm guessing, but it would make sense.) that will still push the show.  There were four Hornets at the Races, two for static display and two for flight ops.
The Demo team took the skies the first day, and not sure what happened after that but there were no shows on the other days.  Not going to lie, it was a bit of a disappointment.
Not only was I looking forward to the air demo, but the F18 usually takes part in the heritage flight event.  The heritage flight is a favorite for me, that is what an aircraft from the past flies in formation with a current inventory aircraft.  I have two previous posts with Heritage Flights earlier this year, a P51 and F16 and a F18 and A4.
The F18 is an older aircraft, being introduce in the mid-1990's.  Some would say it is old, I would say it is tough to replace.  That it is still in use by the Blue Angles is all you need to know.
I saw a single F18 do a mini-demo (awesome photo) earlier this year at Wings over Northern Michigan show.  Based on what I saw there, I was really interested to see a more 'formalized' demo.
Disappointment aside, I did get a few good shots.
Because I had seen the aircraft fly earlier in the year, I didn't have to take so many 'guess what it will do next' shots.  With the exception of the two flying in formation, all were single shots.  Which only interests me.

The F18 on take-off centered with the Reno home pylon.  Not real exciting if this doesn't capture your interest.  Too bad I can't add the sound.

F18 on Take-off Reno
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15/70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6
400 mm, 1/1250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 110 (AUTO)
EV 0, MANUAL Mode, Size DX

I like formation flying.  The more the better, but I'll take two.  Takes a lot of faith in your equipment, training and partner to do even this.

F18s in Formation
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15/70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6
315 mm, 1/2500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 180 (AUTO)
EV 0, MANUAL Mode, Size DX

This is interesting photograph.  This is a single shot, so figure the lag time to see the beginning of the formation break and the shutter release.  And I think I got the right shot.

F18s Split
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15/70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6
360 mm, 1/1600 sec, f/6.3, ISO 320 (AUTO)
EV +.33, MANUAL Mode, Size DX

One of the more interesting monuments of the event was after landing, the aircraft were taxiing in front of the stands, then did a loop.  Usually don't see this type of congestion at an airfield - unless they were demoing traffic patterns on an aircraft carrier deck.

F18 Congestion
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15/70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6
280 mm, 1/1000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 (AUTO)
EV 0, MANUAL Mode, Size 1.3

Jets, even on the ground - fun.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Five T6s in the Turn

This image pretty much defines a lot of the challenges taking pictures at the races from the stands.
First, the subjects are far away.  This shot is 450 mm, and pretty aggressively cropped.
I was doing the math for another post, but it applies here as well.  Assuming they are traveling at 225 MPH, they are traveling at 330 feet per second.  This shot was take at 1/800 sec.  Quick math gives me about .4 feet or 5 inches during that shot.  What are the chances of a crisp, clear shot?
The chances for a good shot decrease as the line if flight is directly across your view.  The chances for a better shot increase as the aircraft's line of flight is toward you, with a direct frontal shot being the best chance.
All that being said, when in the stands, the frontal shot is a long way off.  Did I say bigger lens?
As my thoughts get organized for next year, I can get away with slower shots as the aircraft are coming out of the turn.  Just need the bigger lens.  Maybe rent the prime 500 mm?  Probably not enough room on the credit card for the deposit.  Ha.  I have a year to work it out.
This was from far way.  I do like the fact that the wings are not on the same plane, a little chaos.  A little prop blur.  In other shots, that didn't come out so well, I shot at 1/320 in the same area and the blur was much better and I think I can get better shots.  Also for next year, if I get out of the stands and further down in the pits, I might get closer to a point int he turn where I can get more of a head on shot.  I had kind of the idea this year, but the reality of the environment escaped me.  I have a year to bake it.
The T6s in a turn.

Five T6s in a Turn
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15/70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6
450 mm, 1/800 sec, f/10, ISO 320 (AUTO)
EV 0, MANUAL Mode, Size DX

Need a bigger lens.

Juvenile Eagles at Play

After a few days of high octane airplane racing and all the good things that brings to me, I needed to slow down a bit.  Catch a sunrise.  At the Refuge.
This late in the summer, catching sunrise means after driving for about an hour, getting to the Refuge just before 7:00 is doable.  With an earlier sunrise, earlier in the summer - that's tough.
There's so much more action with the transition into the day from night.  Always worth the trip.  Even if the photography is a bit more difficult.  By difficult, I mean challenging.
I missed a few Eagle shots where one was flying close overhead.  Just not enough light to bring out the details.  I missed one wood duck shot, not enough light to aid the auto focus for a quick shot.  The mental images are still there and that's not all bad.
Like all people in this hobby, (I think) I need a bigger lens.  The 70-300 is very good for shooting aircraft.  I could use more of course, but trading off weight for actual use is a consideration.  Or lugging around a heavy duty tri-pod.   When the time comes, I'm sure there will be a post.
Anyway, I could have used more reach here.  This was a great situation with three juvenile Eagles taking over an area in the wetlands.  Not seen off to the left is a group of Pelicans.  I watched for about ten minutes as the pelicans lost ground to the Eagles and then just went in search of a new area.  All that is missing from this scene is t-shirts on the Eagles, with a rolled up sleeve covering the cigarette pack.  It was gang like.  Welcome to the Jungle.
This is about 200 yards away.  I tend to think in terms of a football field.  Maybe 150 yards.  But far enough away.  This was fun to watch and makes the early morning rise easy to deal with.

Three Juvenile Eagles at Play
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15/70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6
600 mm, 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 140 (AUTO)
EV 0, MANUAL Mode, Size 1.3

Juvenile Eagles at Play
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15/70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6
600 mm, 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 125 (AUTO)
EV 0, MANUAL Mode, Size 1.3

Where's the third Eagle?  Pestering the Pelicans.

Pelicans and Eaglet
NIKON D500 Ver.1.15/70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6
600 mm, 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 125 (AUTO)
EV 0, MANUAL Mode, Size 1.3

Fun to watch.  (Controlled) nature at its best.  For whatever reason, the Eagles spent most of their time not looking in my direction.  Turn it around, and these shots would be prize winners.