EAA Airventure Oshkosh

If you missed Part 1, look >>Here<<

Show 4, Post 2, Part 2: Thursday and Friday

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Thursday: Day 2 at AirVenture Oshkosh

Waking up Thursday morning to find Larry and Scott had got up at ODark-Thirty to catch the Royal Air Force(RAF) Airbus A400M arriving at Oshkosh. The A400M was due to arrive early in the morning and was planning to depart during Thursday daily show. Their plans were to go on the other side of the runway to catch the Airbus landing, having all the parked aircraft in the background showing a sense of location at Oshkosh. But more about that later. I made my way to the kitchen to make some breakfast. Spoke with Peter for a while, packed up and heading over to the field.

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Looked like the Airshow Gods told Mother Nature to get her act together. The weather on Thursday was way better than Wednesday. Walking up Celebration way, Parr Yonemoto, a Canadian aviation photographer, nearly ran me over in his scooter. I’ve been seeing Parr for years at many airshows around the US and he is someone I enjoy talking to every time we meet.

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After talking with Parr, I made my way to the show line to see what happening. It just so happened that N5000A, the first production Cessna 172, was taxiing by. Restored to factory original inside and out. Such a beautiful aircraft.

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Soon after, the RAF’s A400M was on final approach. A few hours later than expected. As it touched down and started to slow, I was hoping it was going to taxi by my location and then back taxi to in front of the show line. But with its 4 massive 17 ft. diameter propeller in reverse pitch, the A400M slow very rapidly and uses very little runway on its landing. To top it off, the pilot turned the Airbus 90 degrees, opened the rear cargo door and with the crews assistance, back the colossal A400M off the runway.

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Scott and Larry catching the A400M arrive!

 

Behind and to the right of the show line was a constant buzz of activity. Come to find out it was where the ultra-lights were flying. So, I made my way over to see what’s going out. While I was there, I happen to find Rob(feeling much better) and his friend Steve. It’s amazing the power and lift those ultra-lights have. We had a blast shooting and watching the action.

Before the daily show, I was approached by Brandon Hess, the son in law of Sean Tucker, he inquired about some images of Tucker for use on social media. I normally do not shoot aerobatic acts but if this gets my images a more exposure, why not.

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I made my way back over to the show line to find a location to shoot the rest of the daily airshow. During the show, Warbirds of America was mainly jet warbirds. A bunch of L-39, 3 F-86 Sabres,  a pair of T-33s, a MiG-17 and that lovely TA-4 Skyhawk in USMC markings! Here’s a few of my favorites.

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Larry being privy to the show schedule, he texted it everyone in the group. Act 12 was a mystery.

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And when the time came, the show stopped(Yeah, AirVenture stopped) and far off to the right there was a private jet on final approach. It lands, turns and stop on to the taxiway at show center and a golf cart with Ironman stop beside it. And of all people to arrive at 2017 Airventure, guess who gets off the private jet… Yeah, Stan Lee! Still haven figure out why he showed to AirVenture but ok.

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The last two performance of Thursday show was the USAF heritage flight and the USN Blue Angels. Thursday heritage flight was a 4-ship formation with F-35 in lead, 2 P-51 Mustangs on its wings and an A-10 Thunderbolt II in the slot position.

In memory of Vlado Lenoch, both the F-35 and A-10 had special markings to honor a great pilot and friend to the airshow community who we tragically lost July 16, 2017.

The Blue Angels were supposed to fly at the end of the show to do their timing check flight. The team started up, taxied by the crowd and then turned into position for takeoff. During his turn, Boss (Blues Angels number 1 and Team leader) took his Hornet off roading. As a safety precaution, the flight was postponed so the maintenance crew could inspect for damage.

Thursday night back at the house was the most memorable part of the day for me, it was where we were all together telling each other our stories of the day, sharing images we had shot on our laptops, eating food prepared and cooked by Vincent, unwinding together as a group. Hell, even Larry laughed a few times. To add to it all, we even had our own airshow! The Blue Angels managed to get their timing flight in. It was something to see that all of us share the same fascination and passion (there’s that word again Larry) with fighter jets maneuvering at low altitudes. I was so caught up with it all, I didn’t get pictures of it all. Like Adam and his wife from Georgia, great southern folks. Along with DeKevin “DK” Thornton and his stories of the “ditch”. But that’s ok. Those moments are special and are for the group to remember. And we will! We had so much fun, we planned to do it again Friday night.

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Friday: Day 3 at AirVenture Oshkosh

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Friday morning the house was quiet. It seems the later it was in the week, the later we all slept in. Peter did get up early to shoot the morning balloon launch. In the kitchen, I got cup of coffee and checking last night’s emails. Bonnie was up early, talking to “DK” who stayed the night and was leaving after today’s show.

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Parr sent me an email, a list of daily activities showing 2 F-22 Raptors was to arrive at 10am and depart Oshkosh on Sunday. There was an Air Guard F-15 Eagle from New Orleans also going to arrive around 1pm. I wanted to catch the Raptors coming in, so I made my way over to the field early. About 9:30am, thinking I have enough time as I’m walking toward the main entrance guess what shows up? Yeah! The pair Raptors beating up the field. Oh well, there is still the F-15 coming in later.

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Once in, I got a text from two of my airshow buddies, Steve Savino and Mark Hrutkay. I met Steve and his wife on a flight from San Francisco to Ontario, California while we were both heading to Chino for the Planes of Fame airshow back in 2015. And Steve introduced me to Mark while attending Wings over Houston the same year. They had a spot picked out where their wanted to shoot from on the new crowd line. Yeah!, the new crowd line. For Fridays and Saturdays airshow, the line was moved back for safety reasons.

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From a photographic stand point you now are farther away from your subjects and you have a couple rows of parked aircraft in between you and the active runway, making take off shots more difficult.

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The line of poles is where the new crowd line is

 

Come lunchtime, Steve and I decide to get something to eat. One of his friends watched our gear while we were getting food. Sure enough, after I placed my order and pay for my food, guess what shows up? Yeah!, the New Orleans F-15! Nice light, clear skies, flying close and not a single frame of it. Oh well, it was cool to watch. I did catch the NASA T-38, not as cool as the Eagle but check out that exhaust!

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I’m a warbirds lover. For me the highlights during the daily show was seeing the flight of 3 P-63 KingCobras, 3 B-25 Mitchells, both B-29s in the air at the same time (it was not a formation), the 3 F-86 Sabres again, along with getting another shot at that USMC TA-4.

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Friday was the first time the Blue Angels performed at AirVenture. The Blues always put on a good show despite the no# 2 was a “Family model”. I myself have lost track on the number of times I’ve seen the Blues but it was enjoyable to photograph them some pleasing light.

And the final act of Fridays show was again the USAF Heritage flight with a Gu-11 and 2 A-10s.

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Ha Ha . The Heritage flight was with a P-51 and 2 A-10s. The F-35 team had a day off.

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Again, my most memorable part of Friday was at the house with the group. Meeting new people, sharing our experiences, eating and laughing. That night Gary Edwards, Craig Swancy and Gary Daniels came over to the house for dinner. I didn’t get a chance to spoke to much with Gary Edward and Craig but Gary Daniel turns out to be a designer, photographer and a grill master! Larry had invited Joseph “Gonzo” Gonzales, who works with Air Education and Training Command(AETC) with planning of the USAF Heritage flights and Demo teams.  Oh man, he had a bunch of wild and funny stories from his travels.

later that evening, part of the group wanted to go over to the WWII re-enactors camp in the morning and see if they could get a few re-enactors to pose around some aircraft in warbird alley. It sounded like a great idea and it turned out to be quite an awesome photo shoot. More about that in part 3!

Steven

My Selfridge Experiment

Show 5, post 1: Pre-show thoughts on Selfridge ANGB Open House & Air Show

During my time at EAA AirVenture, while talking to many aviation photographers, one thing kept popping up in conversations. Prop blur and how getting a full arc was the “Holy Grail”.

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Frozen props looks unnatural. When we look at a propeller driven aircraft with its engine running or in flight, we see the propeller spinning. It’s basic photography, creating an image of what we see i.e. prop blur. But on the flip side of aviation photography, it’s acceptable to totally freeze jet aircraft in flight.

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Why is that? Why don’t we try to show a sense of motion when it comes to shooting jets? Is it because we think it’s hard? It can be done. Here’s two example I shot @1/160th. Both using my 7D MKII but the F/A-18 Hornet was shot with a 200-400mm F/4 with 1.4X extender IS (Image Stabilization) which was off, USM (Ultrasonic Motor). And the F-100 was shot with my 500mm F/4.5L USM, which doesn’t have IS.

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Both you can see a sense of motion but I want to go farther with it. So, Selfridge open house is coming up this weekend and there will be quite a few jets flying there. My personal challenge is to show more motion while shooting jets. This can only work if there are some clouds in the sky to blur. Not too many and not too few. Blurring a clear blue sky is pointless along with straight overcast. I’ll be using a Canon 5DSR from lenRental.com and my 500mm F/4.5L. My plan is to shoot in shutter priority starting @ 1/160th and go down to 1/100th. I may underexposure 1/3th stop to prevent blowing out any highlights. My keeper rate is going to go to shit but all I need is one. The idea of this scares me but I think I can do it if the conditions are right.

Until later,

Steven

EAA Airventure Oshkosh

Show 4, Post 2, Part 1: Tuesday and Wednesday

It’s been a while since I got back from Oshkosh. After resting, getting back into my work routine, shooting over 11,000 images during my 4 days and 5 shows at Oshkosh, It’s time to share my Airventure story with you all. If you’re a photographer who loves shooting anything aviation related, you must attend Oshkosh. Even if you went all week, you’re going miss something. There’s no way to see and do everything at Oshkosh. On that note, I have way too much to say for one post, so show 4 post 2 will be split up into 3 parts. Part 1 will be Tuesday and Wednesday, part 2 will be Thursday and Friday and part 3 will be Saturday and Sunday.

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I had little to no expectations about Airventure. I know that Expectation is a down payment for Disappointment.” Not say the whole event was going to be a letdown but I’ve found it’s better to start an adventure with a neutral mindset and accept the outcome. I knew that Airventure was big, over 10,000 aircraft and over a half million people attend during the weeklong event. Each day at Oshkosh, there is a daily airshow and each day is different. This year’s main attraction was the only two flyable B-29’s flying together, the 75th Doolittle Raid Anniversary with up to 16 B-25’s and USAF bomber flight with the B-1, B-2 and B-52. These three historic events may not happen again and not at the same event.

What I was excited about was where I was staying and who was going to be there. I’m a new member of “The International Society for Aviation Photography” (ISAP) and every year for Airventure their rent a house for members to stay. I was fortunate to get a spot and stay there from Tuesday night to Sunday morning. Staying in the house with a group of other aviation photographers during the largest aerial event of its kind in the United States, talking photography with other photographers, listening and telling about past airshows and people they met along the way, making memories with friends of old and new. Going through the daily routine with other photographers and all the unknown actives that was to come, that’s what I was looking forward to.

Tuesday

Was a very long day. Worked 8 hours then drove home, took a shower, packed the car and headed off to Oshkosh. Leaving from southeast Michigan, I had a 7 and half hour drive ahead. It gave me time to decompress from work and start to think about the next 5 days. Just how grand is Oshkosh? How would the other photographers in the house accept me? Who would I meet? What would I learn? What opportunities would come my way? And why is my GPS routing me through Chicago? NO! NO! NO! Holy crazy drivers! There must be some new law in Chicago that you can’t drive no more than a 1000ft in any one lane. I made it through Chicago and all the sporadic lane changing. The rest of my road trip to Oshkosh was uneventful.

I made it to the house about midnight. Larry Grace, the President of ISAP was still up talking to one of his old friends, Stacy who was leaving in the morning. Most of the others were already in bed sleep. Larry introduce me to Scott Slingsby, pilot and photographer who I was going to share living space with during my stay. After a brief but enjoyable conversation, it was off to bed. Even after the long day, I was pretty excited about what was to come in the morning and the days ahead. Tuesday night was the only night that falling asleep was a problem.

 Wednesday: 1st day at Airventure Oshkosh

Woke up Wednesday morning to the sounds of the house coming alive. People making breakfast, taking showers and getting ready for the day ahead. Making my way to the kitchen, I first met Vincent Trelut, a well-traveled enthusiast photographer from France who knows his way around the kitchen. Then there was Chuck Burin, also an enthusiast photographer who is a retired Marine aviator that flew A-4’s in Vietnam. Next was Bonnie Kratz, buzzing around getting ready to head out to the field. She is currently a Professional photographer who had also worked as staff photographer for the EAA for 6 years. Larry and Scott soon made their way into the kitchen. This morning topic was the weather. All looking on our phones, watching as a thunderstorm head straight in our direction. It was not going to be an all-day wash out but there were possibilities for off and on rain all day. As we were all seasoned photographers so when it comes to rain and our gear, staying dry is top priority. One of the benefits of the house was it is very close to Wittman regional Airport where Airventure is held. Travel time from front door to parking was easily 5 minutes. Larry had business to attend to at the field and Scott went with him.

Rob Wetterholt Jr, a good friend of mine and fellow photographer was going be here Wednesday and Thursday. We were planning to meet up, catch up and shoot the show. I called Rob on my way to Wittman as the rain starts pouring down. My first thought was to just turn around and go back to the house until the rain start or clears up. While talking to Rob, he only had two days to go. Rain or shine, he was going. I figured I’d go, met up get the lay of the land today while the weather is crappy. The weather for the rest of the week was going to wonderful.

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We met up at Doc, beautifully restored after 16 years. There we talk with Connie Palacioz and learned of her story of how she worked on B-29 during WWII and how she also helps on Docs restoration.

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From there was made our way over to warbird alley where to our surprise there was an amazing TA-4 that was have not seen. From there, Rob wanted to head over to the vintage area but on the tram ride over Rob began to feel ill. We got off a few stops early so Rob could sit and wait for it to pass. We made our way through the crowd and stop by one of the shops to get him some water. I had a feeling he may be getting dehydrated but it was cloudy and barely 75. Plus, we been to hotter shows in the past and was able to stay hydrated. After a bottle water, he seemed to be good to go but it was short lived. Over by the arch, Rob laid in the shade under a wing of a home built and his condition worsened.

Worried about my friend, I ask him if he could make it over to the medical center and replied he didn’t think so. I then located the medical center and told them I have a friend who needs help. Two emt’s (I presume) packed up their gear on a cart and left to get Rob. After picking him up and on their way to the medical center, Rob got sick twice. A sure sign of dehydration. They were going to keep him there to rehydrate him and told him to text me when he was released. Bummed out but I know he is going to taken care.

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So, I ventured off alone into the countless rows of aircraft looking for something to catch my eye. Not long into my journey, I get a call from Larry asking where I’m at and could I go to a location so he could pick me up. The USN Blue Angels were arriving soon and both him and Scott were head to one of the media tower to catch them landing. After a bit of miscommunication 😊 Him and Scott scoop me up and off to the tower. Once there, ran into Roger Cain, Director and chief photographer for Society for Aviation History”, who I have met at plenty of airshow. Now all we need is the Blues to show up. I myself could not shoot from the tower but it was a great location to catch the Blues landing. But with the sky being crappy, I decided to switch over to shutter priory and dropped my shutter speed to 1/100th to blur the background as the Blues landed. The Blue showed up with 5 jets and two of them were “family models”, that’s what I like the call the two-seaters.

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5 tries @ 1/100th, I got 3 but this is the one I like the most. And yes, Vincent it passes your “is it sharp test” LOL. (Look here) One time at the house, Vincent said a good way to tell if your image is sharp while looking at it on the back of your camera, if you can read “Blue Angels” in the banner below the Blue Angels logo on the front part of the fuselage, you know it’s sharp.

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Soon after the Blues landed the Mother Nature started up again. Overcast sky and more rain does make for nice pictures, we decided to pack up go back to the house. And the chances of the night show happening were dropping alongside the rain. Which would suck cause the night show was going have the 75th Doolittle Raid Anniversary: with up to 16 B-25s to take off in rapid succession like on the deck of the USS Hornet. Along with the B-1 was going to fly in the night show as well. Truly a real treat. The Bone rarely fly at airshows more or less a night show. To get a shot of the B-1 in the lovely evening light with the afterburners glowing… would be awesome!

Back at the house, time to dump the cards and check out what we shot. Scott went outside to call his wife and after a short time he came back in and said it looks like the bad weather was clearing out. Larry opted not to go. So, Scott and I grabbed up our gear and headed back to the airfield.

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Our timing could not have been any better. We parked and made it over to the double row of B-25’s parked just like there were 75 years ago on the deck of the U.S.S. Hornet before their famous raid. I managed to find a spot up front and in the middle of the two rows of Mitchells.

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The sound of all those big radials so close is something I will not forget. With all the B-25’s started and taxied to the runway, Scott and I along with everybody else watching, quick moved over to the show line to watch the Mitchell take in rapid succession.

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After the B-25’s finish their act and all landed, The BONE was inboard and the light and the sky was perfect. The B-1s performance was brief but well worth it. The glow of the burners, the pops vapor and the sky was amazing!

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Scott then started take picture of his B-1 shot from the back of his camera with his cell phone and text them to Larry showing him what he had missed out on!

At the end of the night show, there is a fireworks display. Scott wanted to get an aircraft/firework shot and had a few aircraft picked out. After scoping out the others, Scott finally chose a Lockheed Electra to shoot with the fireworks. As I was sitting and waiting for the fireworks to start, Rob and his friend Steve walked up. After spending the afternoon in the medical center, Rob was rehydrated and feeling better. The two of them were making their way to the car and was heading out. He said with more rain coming and they did not want to get stuck in the rain after the fireworks. More rain? What? And just as the firework started, mother nature again.

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So, Scott and I got “rain qualified to shoot fireworks at Airventure” and we took cover under a wing of another Electra. I did manage to get 3 images of the fireworks and an aircraft but here’s the one I’m happy with.

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After the firework, we made our way back to my car. Got off the airport grounds fairly quickly. And driving back to the house, I spotted an Arby on the passenger side of the road and mine you I’m in the 2nd lane farthest from Ardy’s. Thinking a milk shake would be nice about now. I hastily asked Scott, “Have you had Arby’s Orange Cream shake?” He replied no but sounds good. By the time Scott answered, I had passed the entrance to Arby’s but with my Detroit driving rules, I managed to turn into the gas station right beside it. Thinking that the two parking lots were linked together. Wrong! There was a 4-foot strip of grass separating us from orange cream goodness. “Think I should drive over it?” I ask Scott. “Go for it.” I then proceed to “go off roading” in my Veloster. All the while the kid in the drive thru window is watching and is probably thinking “What the Hell are these jackasses doing?” Yeah! Hold that thought, we’re about to driving around to order! Milk shake in hand, back at the house, time again to dump the cards, change batteries and get ready to do it all again in the morning.  Also that night, the newest house guest arrived, Peter Keller, an enthusiast photographer new to aviation photography, was welcomed to the group.

Part two of Show 4, Post 2 is >>>HERE<<<

Steven

Blog Update

I know it’s been a while since I posted anything new. I try to post something at least once a week but life tends to get in the way. I do have a few things I want to share with you. I started an Instagram account and will try to share sometime there once a day. I got a few pics from my latest adventure there, 2017 EAA Airventure at Oshkosh. Check it out @ https://www.instagram.com/anadventureinawesome/ . I’m currently working on “Show 4, Post 2” and it should be posted soon.  Finally, I added a new page, “Healthy Photo Practices” .  A list of things I have learned that helps my photography.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Show 4, post 1: Pre-show thoughts

Oshkosh, this is a big one!  Over 10,000 aircraft and 500,000 aviation nerds! It is a weeklong event, I’ll be there from Wednesday to Sunday. That’s still 5 days of shooting aircraft of all types. From home built aircraft to the US newest 5th Generation fighter, the F-35. I’ve never been to Oshkosh and have no idea what to expect. There will be tons of stories and images from this event. I have been writing them down all my ideas so I do not forget them.

There is going to be a lot of warbirds I have not seen there. Hoping to see and shoot some unique images. I rented some gear for this event, Canons 50 megapixel monster, the 5DSR along with the 100-400mm MKII from LenRental.com. I’ll be using the 5DSR with my 500mm F/4.5 as my main body and my 7D MKII with the 100-400mm MKII as my 2nd body.

This list of events was posted over on the Warbird Information Exchange forum(WIX) by “BK”.

 

-75th Doolittle Raid Anniversary: “just under 16 B-25s confirmed” still hoping to get 16. Sun-Mon arrival, fly Tuesday will land and be lined up as if on the Hornet in Warbird Alley. Wed night will launch (7:45pm) as if on the Hornet in rapid succession. I assume no 500ft take-offs. 🙂 At 8pm the B-25s will “light up the skies,” with 96 shots of pyro!

-75th anniversary of 8th Air Force/70th anniversary USAF: Saturday B-1, B-2, & B-52 formation pass at 3:30pm, the B-1, B-2, B-52 will also make single ship passes. Followed closely by 2 B-29s, 2 B-17s, B-24(“we may have a B-24 on board now”), flight of B-25s, & A-20. Collings are in Chicago that weekend.

-The B-1B that is static for the week will also be the one flying during the week. Arrival Monday at 2:30pm, will fly during the Wed night show, then fly again during “Bomber day” Sat. B-2 is flyover only Sat. Two B-52s – one static, one for the Sat. flyover.

-Two F-22s will arrive Friday will stay the weekend. KC-135 arrives Tue. will be static rest of the week. Two Navy P-8s, one on display early in the week and open for tours Tue-Wed. This P-8 departs Thurs morning with another P-8 arriving Thurs afternoon.

-F-35 Heritage Flight arrival Mon., none static, several A-10s Heritage Flight and static. Composite Heritage Flight F-35, A-10 and 2 P-51s. Wed. & Sat. 122nd FW Indiana ANG two A-10s demo with pyro.

-RAF A-400M arrives morning and departs during airshow on Wed. will do a couple of flybys on departure.

-Mystery flyover Wed. and maybe Tue as well at the start of the airshow. “Lots of moving parts required.” Requires a tanker with people coming from far away. “If it works it’s gonna be awesome.”

-F-18s, F-16s Wisconsin ANG, Army Chinooks and Apaches.

– B-29s (Doc/Fifi) flying Tue, Fri & Sat., Doc on the plaza all week, Fifi on the plaza and selling rides in Appleton. YL-15 on the plaza, Scaled Composites Proteus, F-86A oldest flying jet, 2 P-47s from TN, Collings Mark IX Spitfire w/116 combat missions, recently restored SBD, CAF P-63, A-20, C-123 used as a stage for the honor flight/veteran parade.

 -Blue Origin will have a space flown booster rocket on display as well as the capsule (open for tours) they plan to use for space tourism.

-Wed 30m warbird airshow display “fighters,” Thurs. jet warbirds, Fri. 60m warbird show w/B-29s, A-20 is flying in Tue., Fri., and Sat. warbird show.

-Sun. NASA T-38 and CAF P-63 in NACA scheme will fly together.

As you can see, there is going to be a shit load of awesomeness happening at Oshkosh this year.

2017 Goshen Freedom Fest

 

Show 3, post 3: Pretty light and Old lessons learned

Well after a long day yesterday, I wanted to write this while my thoughts and feelings are still fresh. Yesterday was hectic! Where to start?… So, flying at the Goshen freedom fest wasn’t going to start until 6:30pm. From my apartment to Goshen, Indiana is 3 hours away. I told my buddy (fellow photographer) to meet me at my place at 2pm, load up my car and go. Figured we will get there about 5-5:30 and give us an hour to look around, shoot whatever statics are there and find a shooting location on the crowd line. My thinking was, it’s Goshen, Indiana, how many people are going to show up for this small-town show? We should have plenty of time…. Plus, the last show I went to there, I had no problems getting to the airport and finding parking. What can go wrong?!

With our gear packed in the trunk and the tank filled, we headed off to Goshen. On the way over, we had time to caught up on how our summers are going, what other shows we were planning as well as any updates on the Freedom Fest. Well come to find out their added a few great additions, Warbird Heritage foundation Skyraider “Bad News” and their P-51 Mustang “Baby Duck” were both there at the airport. I was thinking that “Baby Duck” was going to fly down with the F-22 from Battle Creek, do the Heritage flight and go back to Battle Creek. Goshen Freedom Fest and Battle Creek both have the F-22/P-51 heritage flight in their shows which happen to be the same weekend. Two TBM Avengers showed up along with a Grumman Wildcat and Bearcat. The P-51D “Pettie, 2nd” also was there. The F-86 Saber turned out to be Paul Keppeler’s which I spoke about in Show 3, Post 2. The big addition I had no idea about was Dean “Cutter” Cutshall was going to fly his beautiful North American F-100F Super Saber at the Freedom Fest. The F-100, nickname the “The Hun”, was going to stage out of its home base in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His Super Saber is on my list of aircraft that I want a unique image of and with the lovely evening light, I’m hoping to check it off my list.  But every time I get a chance to shoot Dean’s Hun, Mother Nature decides to make a bunch of clouds and place them right in front of the sun while it is flying. Another late addition, is a newly repainted B-17 Flying Fortress, was formally known as “Chuckie” now being flown as “Madras Maiden”. I had forgotten that the Military Aviation Museum had sold their Flying Fortress. I had lost track of where it was and what its new owners was doing to it.

The trip over to Goshen municipal airport, the weather was sunny and looked to be a very nice evening. A few clouds here and there but nothing to be worried about. All we have to do is get there, park, scout around and find a promising spot to shoot from. But as we got within a few miles of the airport, we were greeted by bumper to bumper traffic from others like us, trying to get on to the airport to see the airshow. I was excepting some traffic around the airport, which is not uncommon to most airshows. Just due to the surge of people trying to get on to the airport grounds.

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But most of the time traffic is slow but flows smoothly. This was a dead stop and we only moved one or two car lengths at a time. It was now 5:30pm and we were not ever in sight of the airport. And after about half hour, we were still not in sight of the airport. Now we are starting to doubt if we would get parked before flying started. Then as 6:45pm nears, Mother Nature had to put her 2 cents in. In all western Indiana and southern Michigan, you can guess where she decided where an isolated thunderstorm was going to pop up at? Yeah that’s right, Goshen municipal airport!

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It rained good for about 20 minutes, which in some way we felted was a good thing. It delayed the flying while, which gave us a little bit more time to inch closer to the airport. And at least we were almost there and that we and our gear was dry. By the time the rain stopped, we had advance enough to see the airport and the passing storm overhead. Still off the airport grounds and some distance from parking and about there we see plane start to take off and pass over head. A flight of 4 AT-4 Texan opening the show.

Goshen17_4

One of our associates already at the show and waiting for us to show up, told us that the F-22 and P-51 Heritage flight was to be at 7pm, which was quickly approaching. But traffic is still only moving one or two car lengths at a time. By now, we can see the complete line of car in-between us and where they are parking cars. We were hoping to be parking be soon, like within 30 minutes. But that was not the case. Another text from our buddy about the show, B-17 in bound.

Goshen17_1

Shot out of my sunroof with my iPhone

And our frustration level just went up another notch. “Why are not moving? I don’t understand why thing is taking so long?”, my best friend said as we watch the B-17 line up for a photo pass over the crowd line. So, close but still too far away. 7 o’clock, I ask my friend if wants to get out and go to the trunk to get his gear so he could walk beside the car and shoot when the F-22 shows up. Yeah, that’s just how slow traffic was moving. He gets out, pops the trunk and grabs his 7D MKII along with his 100-400mm MKII and starts shooting.

Now Vlado Lenoch in the P-51 “Baby Duck” gets airborne and started his aerobatic routine before the Heritage flight. I know now that I’m not going to be able to replace my NAS OceanaF-22/P-51 shot with one here. I’m driving along the road way, all the windows down so I can try and spot the Raptor. The Mustang is doing pass after pass and as I’m creeping along, hearing my friends shutter just clicking away. Getting antsy and I want shoot too, I ask my buddy to grab my 7D MKII and ask if I can use his 400mm F/5.6 that he was bring to the show for our friend to shoot with. Still moving along at a snail’s pace, the F-22 Raptor show up and joins with Vlado in “Baby Duck” for the Heritage flight. Got my camera and lenses in my lap, I’m shifting in-between park and drive trying to shoot what I can of the Heritage flight. Fortunately, the airport we to my left and I could snap a few shots here and there. But It sucked. Here’s my F-22 and P-51 Heritage flight image, shot through driver window while sitting in traffic.

Goshen17_6

After the Heritage flight was over, we were both hoping that the F-100 was not up next to perform. We were glad to hear the jet truck started up, as we do not care to photograph jet truck at airshows. The truck did buy us a little more time and once it was done, we were on the airport ground. The line of car was still inching forward slowly and by now my nerves were starting to wear a bit. By the time we parked and started looking for our other buddy already there, a high performance aerobic act (I like to call spinners) had flown its routine and landed. We quickly geared up, locked car and started walking for a spot to shoot from on the super crowded show line. Holy Fuck, Goshen! I truly think all of Goshen’s population was crammed on to the tiny airport. Young, old, big, tall and what seems like Indiana entire Amish community as well!

Goshen17_17

It took us an hour and half to get through traffic, park and finding a spot to shoot from. Yeah, half as long as the drive over. Our shooting spot was not an ideal location, with so many people already there. Didn’t have much of a chose. We were about 150ft from the rope that started the crowd line. But we did have a good view of the runway for takeoffs as the sun began to monumentally peep from behind the clouds. And just after the show announcer said that Dean Cutshall is inbound from Fort Wayne in his F-100, the sun slides behind a cloud. I manage to capture this one I’m happy with.

Goshen17_7

Once we were in our shooting location, it was business as usual. The light was as I imagined it would be, rich golden color and was a treat to shoot.

Click on thumbnails below to view larger image.

I learned some valuable lessons this past weekend. One is to get to the show early so you will have enough time to look around and find what going to work best for you. The whole time from sitting in traffic, final parking the car to the time we found somewhere to shoot found was the most frustrated I have been at a show or event. It is something that I do not want to repeat anytime soon. And underestimating the amount of people going to a show.  Because I failed those two things, we miss shots in which we travel there to shoot along with having a poor shooting location.

The best lessons in life are learned through pain.

Until next post,

Steven

 

The Story Behind an Image, Part three

 

Part 3: My 11 years and over 16 Airshows/events shot

Ever since I started my love affair with Aviation photography, I have a list of images I wanted to capture. One of them has been a ¾ front shot of a F/A-18E or F Super Hornet during its high-speed pass with a full vapor cone in a cloudless blue sky. Not a full cone from side view, not on a cloudy day that hides the vapor cone but a nice full round vapor cone from ¾ front. I tried for years, 11 years to be actual and God knows how images. But after 11 years and 16 different events and airshows, I finally did it.

For those of you who do not know what a vapor cone it is, go and hit up Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vapor_cone

There’s a huge misnomer about the elusive vapor cone. When people see it, their think that the aircraft is breaking the sound barrier. WRONG! A vapor cone can form (if the conditions are right) at transonic speed just before reaching the speed of sound. Demo pilots meticulously rehearsed a precise routine showing off the aircraft performance without breaking the supersonic speed limit set at an airshow and other aviation events. I’ve been to countless shows and seen so many high-speed passes from just about every US fighter and not one of them has ever excessed the speed of sound.

Now on to just how difficult this shot was for me. 16 different airshows and events in 5 states and one in Canada over 11 years. Yeah, Holy Fuck! Here’s 3 YouTube videos I found that showing how quickly the vapor cone forms and disappears during the Super Hornets high speed pass.

https://youtu.be/pES8AKI5kso?t=269

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsqSYX2vb7s

https://youtu.be/Z9GLOcqgv2M?t=287

Pretty amazing right!? Now imagine shooting it with a 400mm or 500mm lens hand held. Yeah! For me, the trouble was not being able to keep track of the Super Hornet during the high-speed pass or not being able to get images in focus, it was having the right condition for it to happen and for me to be shooting from the right location to be able to capture it the way I wanted. The main ingredient for a vapor cones and any other forms of condensation is humidity. One of main features of the shot I wanted to capture is having a cloudless blue sky to showing off the full cone of condensation. And having a humid and cloudless blue sky the day of an airshow is a weather oxymoron. Clouds in the background can take away and or make the cone look deformed. Our eyes are very sensitive to circles and can quickly pick up on things that do not appear to be round. The other feature of this image I envision is the position of the Super hornet with the vapor cone. I have seen many images of aircraft with cones and most of them are profile or side shots along with a few rear shots (I like to call butt cones). I want to shoot the Super Hornet as it is heading toward me in a ¾ front view so it looks like it is punching through a little cloud it just formed. There is no way of knowing where the vapor cone is going to form, if it even happens or not during the high-speed pass. But I do know during the Super Hornets demo, it does the high-speed pass from the right to the left. If it is possible, I want to be the farthest left of show center. So, if it forms I can capture it in the position I’m looking for.

Below are 4 interesting failed attempts at capturing the Super Hornet high speed pass I had shot over the years. Each showing different combination of wrong factors. The images are as they are out of the camera, no skipped images.

The first one is from Battle Creek 2006. The Super Hornet was from VFA-106 known as the “Gladiators” based at NAS Oceana. I nicely painted 206 bird, nice blue sky but not vapor. The night before the show, a front came through and dried the air out.

Battle Creek 2006

Good Position, Good sky but no humidity Link to view full size https://anadventureinawesome.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/battle-creek-2006.jpg

 

The next high-speed is of VFA-106 performing at home at the 2008 NAS Oceana airshow. The sky was partly cloudy, blue on one side of the runway and cloudy on the other. Another pass in the wrong location and with not the best weather conditions.

NAS Oceana 08

Poor position, Poor sky but great humidity! Link to view full size https://anadventureinawesome.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/nas-oceana-08.jpg

Next on to the APPA Gold Cup Hydroplane race on the Detroit river 2011. VFA-106 came up from NAS Oceana to perform the demo each day of the race. Had a good shooting location on belle isle, an island park on the Detroit river, at the end of a pier that jetted out into the river. The pier did not interfere with the events airshow box but it did get me closer to the action. That time I was shooting my 400m F/5.6 and that little bit closer helped full the frame. Since the demo was flown over the Detroit River, I chose to shoot from Belle Isle so that the sun was at my back. And being on opposite side of the in which the demo was being flown, the high-speed pass was from the left to the right. Close but not the shot the shot I was looking for. Poor position, great sky and great humidity.

APPA Gold Cup Detroit 2011

Poor position, Great sky and Great humidity. Link to view full size https://anadventureinawesome.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/appa-gold-cup-detroit-2011.jpg

And the last of interesting failed high-speed passes is from Cleveland National airshow in 2012. That weekend I had rented Canons new 500mm F/4 MK II from lensesrental.com (amazing service). The whole weekend was overcast and there was a ton of moisture in the air. I had no question that Super was going to cone. The trouble was that it overcast and gray, that there will not be enough contrast in between the cone and the background clouds. Here in this last series of images, these nine images (in a row) is a testimony to just how good the cameras autofocus system capabilities are at tracking a gray object traveling near the speed of sound on a gray background. It’s amazing to see how the vapor cone forms, disappears and how quickly it reforms again. Great position, poor sky and great humidity.

Cleveland 2012 film strip

Great position, poor sky and great humidity! link to view full size https://anadventureinawesome.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/cleveland-2012-film-strip.jpg

Enough about how I struggled with this shot. Fast forward to late spring 2015 and the Gary South Shore Airshow was approaching. It is a beach show on the southern shore of Lake Michigan in Gary, Indiana. This was first of two beach shows during my 2015 show season. The second was Milwaukee Air & Water Show 2 weeks after the Gary show. Beach shows has its pluses and minuses. Let start with the good, a very good possibility for vapor. Water evaporating for a body of water into the air equals humidity. And you need a lot of humidity for a good full cone to form. Also, your background most likely will be uncluttered. The horizon and sky makes for a simple and clean background along with shows a sense of location.

For me, the biggest negative of a beach show is the location of the airshow box. The air space where aircraft are permitted to perform during a show or aerial event. The show line, a visual reference line to aid pilots with orientation during the performance, runs down the center of the airshow box. At most aerial events, one of the active runways is the show line. FAA rules state that the crowd must be 1,500ft. away from the show line. That does not mean the performers are always 1.500ft from the crowd. Some maneuvers, are closer than others. But at a beach show, the performers take off and land at a nearby airport. So, how do you have a show line at a beach show? With a ship, of course. At the Gary show, I think it was a US Coast Guard ship? Not 100% sure, but it was a ship. 9 times out of 10, the water 1,500ft from the shore is not deep enough for a ship. Remember, it must big enough for pilots to easily spot, like a big white coast guard ship. So that means the show line farther away from the shore, farther away means one needs more focal length. Because of this I stayed away from beach show until I got my 500mm.

Weeks before the show I had planned on going with the intent of crossing off a few images from my list. The Warbird Heritage Foundations(WHF) A-4 Skyhawk and the US Navy West Coast Super Hornet Demo team from VFA-122 “Flying Eagles” based out of NAS Lemoore were my main reasons for going. I wanted to get an image of WHFs Skyhawk during its photo pass. The Gary show did give me yet another crack at get that front ¾ full cone shot during Super Hornets high-speed pass if conditions were right.

I almost don’t go to this show. At the time, I was living in Naperville, Illinois and the morning of the show it was straight and solid over at home along with the weather for Gary, Indiana did not look promising. With questionable weather, I was seriously considering not going until my good friend called me to ask if I was going. He told me he was going and he felt that we would be ok weather wise. Being not too thrilled about the weather, I pack up my gear and headed off to Gary. If anything, I could see and hang out with buddy doing what we both enjoy despite the weather conditions.

The drive over I was hoping for better weather but the farther east I drove but it wasn’t looking any better. And was disappointed with mother nature. Come show day, its overcast time! But as I got closer to Gary, the overcast was breaking up and had patches of blue here and there. By the time I reached Marquette Park, where show was being held, I was shocked to see the sky was clear and blue. Now excited for the show, I scrambled to find parking and call my buddy. Who had gotten there before I did and told me where to go to find him on the beach. He had pick out a spot to the left of show center to shoot from. The show opened with the US Army Golden Knight parachute team jumping in the flag as the National anthem with being sung. After a few other acts, the WHF A-4 Skyhawk did its demo but due to the where the show line was, the tiny A-4 looked even smaller in view finder during its photo pass.  Was a little bummed out about the Skyhawk’s photo pass but I did finally cross that shot off my list later in the season at NAS Oceana.

So, after seeing the Super Hornet demo so many times, the routine become familiar. The demo starts with the dirty roll. During the roll, the landing gear is retracted followed by a vertical reposition for the next pass. At the bottom the repositioning, there is a hard pitch up and is a good chance to get some vapor on the leading-edge extensions. Back to level flight, lite the afterburners for the minimal radius turn. Exiting the minimal radius turn, hard pull into the tail stand. Top of the tail stand, the stick is shoved forward and the ass end of the hornet abruptly rises and the aircraft levels out. Exit right to position for high-speed pass. You know what’s coming. So, quickly check setting, looking to check to see if there anything that going to get in the way of the shot. Other photographers, people walking by, anything to screw up the next 10 seconds. Quickly move if needed, lenses up, focus on the Super hornet as it approaches, take a breath, get calm and focused and start shooting. I hate the saying “spray & pray”. For me, its mindless shooting away, hoping to capture something, instead having the mindset and skill to stay calm and shoot you subject when it is suitable. Yes, you have to shoot in continues shooting to capture any fast action and be able to keep the auto focus point on your subject all the while panning. The funny thing is I did not see the vapor cone form at all. None of it, not a single frame. Remember, when shooting the mirror sways up and blocks the view finder so the sensor can exposure the scene.

11years and 16 shows

EXIF data

Date: 7/12/2015 11:35am

Model: Canon 7D Mark II

Len attached:  Canon 500mm F/4.5L USM

Exposure program: Aperture priority

Shooting modes: High-speed continues @ 10FPS with AI Servos

ISO speed: 100

Exposure time: 1/1600th second

F stop: F/4.5

Shot handheld

Here’s the 9 frames from the West Coast Super Hornet demo, VFA-122 “Flying Eagles” Based at NAS Lemoore, High-speed pass at the Gary South Shore Airshow in 2015.

Great location, Great sky and Great humidity. Link to view full size https://anadventureinawesome.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/gary-south-shore-show-2015.jpg