EAA AIRVENTURE OSHKOSH

Show 4, Post 2, Part 3: Saturday and Sunday

Day 4 at EAA Oshkosh

Saturday morning in the kitchen and there was Vincent and Chuck eating breakfast, talking about Vincent’s P-51 mustang Ride he got the day before. After a while the rest of the house had woken up and made their way into the kitchen. We all figured out what we were going do for the daily events. It being Saturday that means there is a night show after the daily show. Vincent and Peter were planning on staying for the night show, so they drove over together. Bonnie, Scott and I were planning to meet up with Craig, Gary and Gary in Warbird alley. There we were to try to find some re-enactors to pose for the group around various aircraft. Larry was going drop Scott and I off in warbird alley and we were going to meet back with him later.

Down in Warbird alley, we found Ryan and Steven, two great guys willing to pose for us. After Ryan was all suited up, we made our way over to Eric Hollingsworth’s P-40 Warhawk. It quickly became clear that this was not the first time Ryan, Steven and Gary Daniel has done a photo shoot like this. Ryan and Steven both were great, patience, took suggestions very well and suggested ideas themselves. Gary Daniels too was just as great, he did a wonderful job with Ryan and Steven fine turning their positions as well as asking the group how we felt. Everybody was very respectful of each other and our sounding, we played very well with each other. After we felt we had enough of the P-40, we move on to Jack Larson’s beautiful P-51 “Sierra Sue II”. There we continue the same routine of position, shoot, experiment, shoot, all the while being mindful of others and we were starting to draw a crowd! For me, that shoot was the most memorable during my 2017 trip to Oshkosh!

After that charged shooting sessions, Gary Daniel, Scott Slingsby and I slowed down and got a bit to eat. From there Scott and I made our way over the vintage area to see one of the award-winning aircraft.

Later we met up with Larry at the media center, where he got Scott and I a better shooting location in the VIP area. Which was far less crowded than the rest of the show line.

Saturdays airshow was a special for aviation enthusiasts. We got to see all the iconic WWII bombers we all love. Flying in formations that has been seen in well over 60 years, with Fifi and Doc, the last two flying B-29s. This was Doc’s first time at Airventure after a malicious 16-year restoration. Which was followed by a parade of bomber was next with 2 B-29 Superfortresses, 4 B-25 Mitchells and a B-17.

Then the USAF brought all 3 of its heavy hitters together in a rare formation. Leading the pack was the sleek B-2. On one side was the aging B-52 soldiering on with over 50 years of service. And on the other, was the B-1. Also known as the Bone (B-one), looks like it feared the B-2 by how far out of the formation he was. But oh well….

Each of the bombers performed various passes. It was refreshing to see the B-2 do a photo pass. Here’s a little fact about the B-52 that performed at AirVenture, B-52 number 61-0007 was brought back into service after sitting in the Bone yard for 7 years.

2017 marks the first time the USN Blue Angels flight demonstrate team perform at AirVenture. I have seen the Blues many time and there are always entertaining as well as very photogenic in the afternoon light at Oshkosh.

The finale of the show was again the USAF Heritage flight. The F-35 lead two P-51 Mustangs on its wings and an A-10 Thunderbolt II in the slot position.

OSH17_pt3_7431

With the aircraft in the heritage flight landed marking the end of the daily airshow along with the end of the Blue Angels show line. The strangest thing happened, as if someone said “Ready, Get Set, Go!” Everybody grabbed their chairs and started running full speed to the original closer show line for the night show. I wish I took a picture of it but by the time I had figured out what was going on, it was too late.

Making our way to the media center, I realized just how many people were here. During the week, the crowd was not so big, which is understandable. But come the weekend, everywhere you looked there was a sea of bodies. With the number of people there and how traffic was going to be after the night show along with there were no jets flying in the night show, we decided to head back to the house.

Back at house, time to dump cards, find something to eat and prepare for the morning like we did all week long. But Saturday night was a little different, it was the end of the weekly grind. Most of the members in the house was leaving tomorrow and heading home. Scott packed up, said his good byes to everybody and was off to Milwaukee to catch his flight home in the morning. I think everybody went to bed early, but Peter and Vincent stayed for the night show and returned late.

Sunday, Last day at Oshkosh

Time to put the House the way we got it. Making beds, cleaning dishes as well as packing up our cloths and gear. We all said our good byes and exchanged information. With everybody’s car packed and the house locked up, we took a quick group selfie and we all parted ways. On the drive home, I reflected on my experiences from the past week and begin to process the whole trip. My takeaway from EAA AirVenture is that it’s a photo grind. I mean that in good way. The repetition of each day but still looking to do things differently from the day before. Trying to contain the feeling of being overwhelmed by enormous amount of aviation stuff and yet stay focused on my task. AirVenture is something I know my photography (as least now) cannot do it justice. It is something every aviation and photography nerd must experience as least once in his or her life time.

Feel free to share in the comments below as well as if you like my content, click the “Like” button or even start to follow my blog.

Until next time,

Steven

Photography and Me

In 2004, my love affair with photography began and since then it has become something that I cherish. For the longest time I really didn’t think about what it meant to me. But at the start of the year, I started to challenge myself and question the things I love doing to have a better understanding of my creativity. After putting together my “Passion” piece, I started looking into why I love Photography so much. I think, it’s being able to tell a story with my images is a big factor. All last year, I pushed myself to try to capture images that said something or told a part of a larger story. From Planes of Fame out in California to Wings over Houston down in Texas. If it was the frustration of Goshen, the marathon shooting of Oshkosh or the joy of shooting at Waukegan. I wanted my images to show and say whatever it was I was trying to express.

Photography to me is sharing how I see the world and a way for me to visually show a story or a part of my life. A photographer I greatly admire, Sean Tucker. In his channel trailer, he speaks about having vision. And it is that vision he talks about that I want to focus on and develop my own vision. To Experiment, Fail, Learn, Repeat. Photography without vision, in my mind is an oxymoron and I do not want my photography to fall into that category.

At the beginning of this year while surfing the web, I came across a bunch of “My Best images from 2017” posted on various forums. There was one in particular that caught my eye. Its >>>HERE<<<. There is a lot of things I really like about this set of images. Composition, light, color but mainly the variety of subjects. And looking back on my favorite images of 2017, Its all aviation. Yes, there is a variety of aircraft types, but it is still all aviation. Yeah, I went to Belle Isle a few times, but all my photo trips were aviation related. And that lack of subject diversity bothers me now. It’s not like I can’t go and see other things, it’s that I made no effort to. I want to change that in 2018.

I been toying with the idea of doing some landscape photography this year. Thinking about visiting the Pacific northwest. There is Redwood National Park and Crater Lake that I have always wanted to see. I feel a switch up like this will get me out of my comfort zone for quite some time. It will require me to learning a different set of photographic disciplines. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop shooting aircraft, it’s just I’m going to mix it up a bit. I just want to see and do something different.

Gear wise, I soon will be getting Canons 5DSR along with a 50mm F/1.2L. Ever since I started with my photography endeavors, I love showing clarity of my subjects. It comes from my love of Ansel Adams and his work. I rented the 5DSR many times last year and love the result of shooting full frame and the very large image size shows the smallest of detail. But these are just tools and will not better my photography, only by continuing to develop and focus my vision as Sean calls it will my photography grow.

There is a photographer with amazing and skillful eye for photography, Joshi Daniel. He has a bunch of brilliant and powerful images that I find always inspire me. Joshi has a wonderful project on his site, it is his 28mm Portraits Project. I want to challenge myself along the same lines but with a 50mm and not shooting portraits. I don’t know what my subject matter will be but I’m sure I’ll find something to shoot. I like to idea of using a limited focal length on a particular subject, along with doing something that gets you out of your comfort zone. It will be a good long term project to help nurture my eye.

Here’s a set of images from my archive that I shot from over the years. With a variety of different subjects that come the beginning of 2019 I would like to have in my “Best of 2018” post.

How do you feel about “Your Photography”? Do you feel that you have an “Eye “for images? Feel free to share in the comments below as well as if you like my content, click the “Like” button or even start to follow my blog.

 

Until next post,

Steven

 

 

Passion

This is the first part in a series I call “Exploring My Creativity”. An examination of MY creativity. Being a creative person, this is something I feel I must do to expand my creative thinking. Know one self.  A very large part of who I am is my creativity. As long as I can remember, I have been creative and doing creative things. And it seems to grow more complex the older I get. At the start of 2018, I told myself I wanted to embrace the idea of “Concentration and not validation. To focus on me and what drives me to be creativity. Let’s start with the strongest member of my creativity, Passion. You have probably noticed I used that word to describe the things I love to do. My photography, modelmaking, sculpting along with writing are my passions.  

It all started in spring 2017, while I visited the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle isle. I went there to photograph the spring flowers in bloom. Red, white and pink little beauties standing proud in the light. There was so much color and so many little pretties all over the conservatory grounds. After about an hour into shooting, I stopped and looked around. During that moments of silence, I heard myself say “I could do this all day long”. Loud and clear as the sky is blue. I knew where it came from but what do I call it? It was something I have heard as long as I can remember. But it’s been so long since I heard it so clearly. It wasn’t until I got home and started looking at my images, that I realized it was my Passion speaking to me. It moved me so much, I started to question it and I came up with two short but complex questions.

1. What is Passion? (what does it mean to me?)

2. How has is changed my Life?

I spent countless hours pondering and searching for answers to those questions. I struggled to clearly describe how I felted. How could I describe something that I had come to live with for so long. At one point, I felt it would have been easier to describe blue to a blind person. I found sharing these questions with others who I felt had passion in their lives to be helpful. I was not looking for my definition of Passion in others but more to the point, finding others that felted the same as me. Those two questions produced some of the most honest and enjoyable conversations with others creative people. It’s very interesting hearing how others describe their Passion. I want to share with you some definitions of Passion from other creativity individuals I have meet in my travels as well as how Passion has changed their lives.

Let’s start with Nick Malachowski. He’s a Lead Automotive Designer. I had the pleasure of working with him in 2016. Here are his thoughts…

Passion is the enemy of fear. Fear prevents us from exploring the unknown, from being vulnerable, from uncovering the truth about us and about the world. Passion is the very act of pursuing those things.

There have been specific decisions in my life I have be faced with (quite recently in fact) where there was no guidebook to tell me what to do, and most of them involved a level of risk that could have paralyzed me. Passion was my catalyst for change.

There can be times where passion can cause pain. When you pour your heart into creating something that doesn’t function or resonate as intended. But, as with most pain, time heals and brings perspective – even revealing that sometimes the most important experiences in our lives can reside within failure.

And a life driven by passion, and accepting of pain, is the only version of life I’m interested in experiencing.

The International Society for Aviation Photography rents a house very close to Wittman Regional Airport during EAA AirVenture. This is where I met Vincent Trelut, a man of many talents. Here is how he feels about Passion…

Passion is what occupies my mind when it is free from obligations or necessities, and my brain is available for pleasure and joy. It is what drives my motivation in life beyond the usual day-to-day activities, because I have not made a living or a necessity out of my passion: it is therefore consuming some of my resources, without bringing money to fuel it. I live passion for aviation history, flying and photography with freedom and an amateur spirit.

Passion has made me knowledgeable about history, science and many other things. It has stimulated my brain and body, contributed to keep me healthy. It has made me meet great people, make friends and share with others. It has also absorbed a lot of my time and resources, probably too much from the viewpoint of my family. It has also made me focus on a few topics only, and created a bias in my approach to life, at least in my leisure time. The key is to keep a balance and not be too passionate all the time on the same topics, while still keeping passion alive, because it stimulates and makes me learn so much, becoming a better person.

During our Friday night cookout at AirVenture, I met Gary Daniels. His creative career spans from designer, creative director to marketing executive and now he is owner of Daniels Creative.  I feel we instantly hit it off. And the following morning, He did a masterful job during our little photo shoot of warbirds and re-enactors. Super talented and passionate guy. Here’s what Gary has to say about Passion…

Why does a person find they are drawn to something so much that they pursue it in life, either as a hobby or a profession? A lot of factors come into play here. Maybe something sparked an interest when they were young.  Maybe they stumbled on their passion later in life by accident. It’s a mystical and magical thing. That is almost impossible to describe sense it is so different with each person.

And a ‘passion’ can be literally anything! I once met a fellow that collected old credit cards. He had thousands and he was passionate about it! He talked to me for 30 minutes about his collection and it was all I could do to not dose off! I thought, “What a gigantic waste of time!” Go figure, but he was very passionate about it and that was ‘his passion’. Who was I to discount it?

I spent my professional career in the creative industry and I was exposed to fantastic designers, photographers, illustrators, writers, etc. I had this very discussion with many of them. And, I heard this statement from almost all of them, ‘I didn’t start out doing this…I didn’t pick this, it just found me.’ 

Another aspect of the human experience, I am most appreciative of, is the gift of imagination within each of us. And, because of our inherent ability to imagine, we create passions that we pursue…sometimes for a week, sometimes for a lifetime. Imagination and passion, I feel, are the two human drives that give each of us a reason to live.

Passion has a life cycle. You may be hair on fire passionate about something, then, the flame burns out. You may start out lukewarm on something, then, it becomes a full-blown passion. I have experienced both of these scenarios with several ‘passions’ in my life. Many ‘passions’ have come and gone.
But, for me, the one passion that has maintained a fire is photography. I think because of the creative aspect of the craft. And, photography is one of the miracles of the human experience. Being able to capture history with a device that snaps 1/250-of-a-second snippets of time is quite miraculous.

The positive aspect of my photography passion is the experiences the craft has made possible, the travel, the opportunities, the friends met along the way, and the desire to be better at the craft. Photography keeps me involved with life, with capturing the wonderful aspects of this world we live in.

The negative aspect, for me, has been the frustration of staying on top of the technology and the cost of staying current. And, the drive to be better can be so tiring if you do not keep that aspect of the passion in check. You can burn your passion out if you are too critical of yourself. Becoming better at your passion is a natural progression of practicing and nurturing it but pushing too hard just breeds discontent and self-doubt in your abilities. And, that can douse the flame.

But, a surprising bonus came out of my photography passion as I grew in talent and knowledge…I like helping others be better in the craft. Early in my photography passion, I was very competitive and did not want to share my ‘secrets’ of how I got the shot. That was borne from insecurity in my abilities and taking myself way too seriously. Now, I realize that there is always someone better than me, and always someone not as good as me. I have learned to drop the ego and just enjoy the craft with others at all levels. Teach as I can, learn as I can. And, the interesting side effect of this approach is that my passion for photography has actually heated up and I enjoy it so much more.

 Of everyone I asked, I gravitate towards Gary’s definition the most. Can’t wait for our paths to cross again!

But after months of pondering, I’m starting to form a definition I feel good about. Passion, it’s a fire that burns in my mind, body and sprite. When it is lite, I can tell you what color the flames are along with how hot they are but not how long it’s going to burn. Doubt and frustration can quickly snuff out it’s flame. I love feeding the flames and enjoying its heat. I must be careful and not put too much fuel into the fire. When I do, my life become out of balance and I start to neglect other parts of my life. Sometimes it becomes difficult to maintain balance, but I know I do my best work when my life is in balance.

While nurturing a passion of mine, it beings me an unmatched profound satisfaction that I cannot find anywhere else in my life. The nonsense of the world as well as the noise in my head fades into a peaceful silence. Time gets lost as hours pass like minutes. During this time, a clear and peaceful calm engulfs me. This time is sacred to me and I will not let anyone in anyway sabotage or try to take it from me. My passion has steeped into every part of my life and has become an important part of who I am. It has added many colors to the cloth I’m from.

My major difficulty associated with my Passion is that I want to spend more time doing what I love than things I should do. What I mean by that is I would love to be able to live off what I love to do verse working for a corporation. Yes, my job pays for everything I enjoy, and I keep reminding myself that but at what cost?  The mental focus and to be consistence creatively takes its toll after a while. I’m very good at what I do but it is a very taxing spending your creative energy on someone else idea and get little to no acknowledgement. I get far more satisfaction from teaching and passing on what I have learn to next generation then in my day to day duties. 

Seeking that peace and calm I get from my Passions V’s working on something and letting that peace and calm find me. If I am upset or frustrated, I do not work on my passions. It often just turns to shit and is more work to try to fix it later. I’ve also had people try to give me grief about my Passions. Negative comments along with underestimating my abilities. Fortunately, I’ve learned through some painful lessons not to let those people bother me and I have become cautious to who I share my passions with. There also the pain of others that take advantage or miss using your passion due to poor planning or just plain stupidity.

This is by far, the most difficult post to put together. And hope it is not the last. I do not ever want to stop challenging myself. My Passion, I feel it is going to take me a life time to truly understand and I can accept that.

Here are my images that sparked this exploration into my creativity. Looking back through my images, I can remember how much I enjoyed shooting that day. Great light and beautiful subjects.

I must say “Thank You to all who participated in this post. For shared their definition of Passion with me. Feel free to share your definitions of Passions in the comments below as well as if you like my content, click the “Like” button or even start to follow my blog. 

 

Until next time,

Steven

The Story behind an Image: Part Four

For the past 14 years, I have had a love affair with photography. I love images that comes with a story. Over the years, I have shot a few images that has a story. Here is part four in a series I call “The story behind an Image”

Part 4: Have Fun!

Anyone who ever been to any NAS Oceana airshow knows in the morning you do two things, shoot statics and shop for swag! During the airshow weekend, most of the squadrons based there set up a row of tents and sale tons of goodies. T-shirts, Cruise DVD’s, challenge coins, coffee mugs, photos & prints… Back in 2008 two of my good friends, Shawn Yost and Craig Scaling both attended the show. To save on cost, Shawn and I split a room and Craig crash with us on Sunday. All weekend long we were cracking jokes, quoting “Top Gun” and all around enjoying each other’s company.

Saturday, we got on base, parked the car, geared up, made our way through security and met up with Craig. We made our way over to the “Squadron Mall” for swag we could not live without. Shawn and Craig both like squadron cruise DVD’s and challenge coins. Me, I enjoy zaps (squadron stickers). After spending an untold amount of money, it was time to figure out where in the hell we were going to put it all. Remember, it is still morning. We still have a whole day of shooting ahead. You can’t hold on to all that swag and shoot jets?! You got to pack that shit up! With our hands full of swag, we headed toward to show line to figure out what we are going do and where we want to shoot from. If I remember correctly, Craig wanting to head over to the static to reshoot something. We paused, Craig took off his backpack to put his DVD’s away. With his hands full, he asks me to hold his camera. He then processes to put his DVD’s into his backpack. With a devilish grin on my face, I nodded to Shawn. He instantly stuck the pose and I quickly framed them both and press the shutter. Craig had his camera set to continuous shooting and it shocked me to hear the frames blast away. And as quickly as it happened, I lowered Craig’s camera and Shawn recomposed himself. Craig ask for his camera back….” You’re shitting me, Right?!” I said to myself. He didn’t realize what just happened. So, I handed him his camera as if nothing even happened. Trying not to laugh, Shawn and I were both amazing he didn’t hear the shutter on his camera or pick up on what we did. It was beautiful! Craig went off to shoot statics and Shawn and I in disbelief found a shooting location. We shot the show, packed up our gear and headed to the hotel. While there, dump cards, charge batteries, shower, dinner and get ready to do it all over again the next day.

Sunday morning, we woke up, got some breakfast and head to the base. Again, parked the car, geared up, made our way through security, shot the show and met up with Craig afterwards. I can’t remember why but Craig stayed with us on Sunday. I do remember, we headed over to my parent house that night for a home cooked meal. On the way over, I figure Craig would had said something to us about Saturday little photo shoot but nothing. At my parent place, we eat, and we laughed. Heck, my Dad even broke out his old cruise books when he served on the Ticonderoga(CV-14) and Saratoga (CV-60). Before long it was time to head back to the hotel. Back in the hotel, we chilled, packed up and come Monday, we all head back to our homes.

According to the EXIF data from the image, it was a full 10 days from the time I shot it to when Craig found it, processed it in Photoshop and email it to Shawn and me. He named the image “ShawnandStevearedead”. Hard to believe that come September, that image will be 10 years old.

ShawnandStevearedead

What I want you all to away from this image. First, regardless of what it is you are shooting, Have fun! Even better is to have fun with friends. Make moments with friends who make images. And second… Don’t ever let me hold your camera when Shawn is around!

 

EXIF data

Date: 9/20/2008 @ 10:17am

Model: Canon EOS 40D

Focal length:  23mm

ISO speed: 400

Exposure time: 1/200th

F stop: F/10

Shot handheld

Knowledge or Gear?

So, three weeks ago I have an idea for my next post. It was my take on the Knowledge vs. gear argument. What is more important? Having the knowledge to see and capture images properly or having the latest and greatest gear? The problem was I already knew that knowledge is far more important than any gear. And as I started writing, it turned into a long-winded rant about why knowledge is more important. I did not like the way it was going along with that is not the way I want to share. So, I thrashed it, gathered my thoughts and wrote this. What I normally like to do is come up with an idea that challenges my creativity. Then go out and test it. And share my results with you all.

I know just because you have a camera, does not make you a photographer. That’s a bitter pill for some. My opinion(and my opinion only), what makes you a photographer is having the ability to see and capture images properly that speaks to your viewers. And it does not matter if it was shot on a Nikon, Fuji, Canon, if it was shot as a RAW or Jpeg, was it from a full frame sensor body or from a cell phone… All those things are just tools to capture an image YOU see. It’s what the photographer trying to show and what the image says to YOU that matters most. Yes, gear helps. But like anything, if one does not know how to use their tools properly, the results will never be as good as someone who knows what he or she is doing.

My idea for this post was to go down Belle isle in Detroit on two different weekends. And I wanted my images to show three things. One, how cold it was outside using a limited color palette. Two, to show how colorful and alive it was inside the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle. And three, have all the images maintain my look or style of photography. On one weekend, I used only with my iPhone 8 plus. And the other weekend, only with my 7D MKII with my 17-85mm. Each weekend, I shot images with the same three goals in mind. Then in Lightroom, strip the EXIF data from each of the images. With the idea of concealing what camera shot what image. Letting you, the reader, to try to figure out if you could tell what image was shot with what. I did strip the EXIF data from the images because it does not matter what gear I used. But what matters, did I accomplish my three goals?

I cannot stress enough how important it is to know how to use YOUR gear properly. Knowing how YOUR gear sees and captures light as well as its limitations. I also want to stress the important of having an idea of what it is YOUR trying to show YOUR viewers. The next time you’re behind your camera ask yourself, “What is it I am trying to show and why?”

Until next time,

Steven

Thoughts about the future

In the coming year ahead, I want to embrace the idea of “It’s about concentration and not validation”. I’m no longer looking for any validation with any of my passions. I’m not saying I know it all, that is far from the case. I feel it is time to continue this creativity adventure of mine and start to focus as well as explore it’s many paths. I want to spread this idea to all my Passions. Photography, model making as well as writing.

Thought_2018_1

With my photography, I’m going to limit my online presence. I want my blog to be my main online outlet. I will email and post blog updates on a few forums I enjoy but that is about it. Not Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter……Blah, Blah, Blah! Those are NOT the way I want to share any of my work. This is MY singular and personal journey. I’m not trying to reach out and share to everyone in the world, just a few other creativity souls that I manage to interact with. I’m sure this idea will upset a few people. But the time I would spend on social media, I would rather spend it doing something creative or nurturing one of my Passions.

Sharing and getting that instant feedback is great. But for now, I’m not looking for it. I really want to dive deep and explore my creativity, scrutinize my inspiration and have what I find show in my work. I feel I can’t do this legitimately if I’m wrapped up in social media. I’m not worried about people not seeing my work. Those who enjoy my work, know how and where to find it as well as how to share it with others. If you like my content and do not know how get updates, just click the “Follow” button.

My reducing online presence is only for my photography. My writing and modelmaking should be unaffected. And actually, my online activity with my passion for modelmaking sure increase. Hopefully in early 2018, I will launch “Far Resin”. My small “What-If” aftermarket resin endeavor. This has been something I have been secretly working on for some time now. From learning different molding and casting methods to building an inventory of what I feel is an original sellable product, it is time to take the next step and see if any of it will in fact sale. I’m currently finishing up the new web page and working on some new exciting products.

Thought_2018_2

And for my writing, I want to continue to write about things I feel is important to Me. And that is where I am running into problems. From the start of this blog, I told myself I was not going to write about what is happening in the world and how it affects me. I am find the frequency of which issues of the world that trouble me is becoming shorter and more disturbing. We live in a truly fucked up world and there are a lot of opinions about it all. Seem like most of them are negative and is just a bunch of regurgitated garbage. And it comes from everywhere, the news, social media, and even from family & friends. I’m frankly sick of it and I don’t want to add to the noise. I feel Rose Tico from Star Wars: The Last Jedi said it best,

“That’s how we’re going to win. Not fighting for what we hate. Saving what we love.”

I want to keep sharing my adventures and my experiences along with maybe inspire one of you to do something different, go one step further or even leave me a comment about your feeling. I want to share with you my favorite comment I has gotten. It is from Jerry Ennis, about My 2017 Season Review.

“You had me at your second sentence. I’ve been feeling the same way and have event passed on some shows because the lineup just looked like a rerun of the year before and the year before that. I enjoyed reading your post and then decided it needed to be studied, not just read. I’ve printed it so I can read, pause, reflect, and (I hope) find some answers of my own. Thanks for priming the pump.” Jerry Ennis

Helping other creative person get those juices going and start to do something with them. That is why I write. I want to keep writing about my passions and to continue to get great comments like Jerry’s. With all my Passions, I still have a lot to learn. I hope 2018 will be a positive learning experience that I get to share with you all.

Happy New Year!

Steven

My 2017 Season Review

Before I start my 2017 season review, there are a few things I want to share with you all about pass years. During the last few years, I have been slowly growing tired of seeing and shooting the same group of aircraft and acts along with going to the same aviation events. So, at the end of my 2016 season, I told myself in 2017 I’m going to new shows and events I have not attended and seek out aircraft I had not seen. Along with there were some shows I flat out was not going to attend to stop that cycle.

Over the years of shooting, my view of my photography has changed from going to airshows and other aviation events and thoughtlessly shooting aircraft to trying to capture images that can tell a story as well as speaks to my viewers. Building a collection of images unique to me over the course of my lifetime. In order for me to do so, I have to start seeing and shooting things differently from others. I didn’t want to shoot the same images as everybody else at any event. I wanted my images to more than just snapshots and in 2017 I was going to do something about it.

All throughout 2017, I’ve been trying to capture images that tells a story and or is unique to me. The way I went about this was to get out of comfort zone. I did not do it at every show or event I went to but when I could, I did. Like if I was going to a new show for the first time, doing something to get out of my comfort zone would not be a smart idea. It is already challenging enough shooting in unfamiliar location. But on the second day or other days of an event, then I would challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone. Once out of my comfort zone, I’m forced to see things differently and when I do, the images I produce are far superior to if I played it safe. I’ve found that these images are some of my favorites.

 I have definitely changed the way I approach shooting an airshow from my first show of the season to the last. From what gear I use, seeking out better light, paying attention to what the light is doing, to what I want to show and share on my blog. At the beginning of the season I wanted to get a zoom lenses because I felt I was missing shots. So, at the TICO show I rented Canons 200-400mm F/4 as my primary lenses. But the images I was able to produce with it, had the clarity but not the look that I like. Full frame with little to no negative space around the subject which I got use to while shooting 500mm prime. After TICO, I felt I had to stay true to how I wanted to shoot. That is my 500mm is my primary lenses and a zoom as my secondary.

While at the Planes of Fame show, I noticed the very large number of photographers all shooting the same subject with basically the same gear. Prime time to be different. For the longest time I shied away from shooting people. With Saturdays weather being gray and overcast, I started working on my ground game and founded I enjoyed searching out new images with people.

And there was the frustration of Goshen, but the evening light was well worth it. Shoot the light and not the subject!

From Goshen, I headed off to Oshkosh for my longest aviation event to date. I was told many time from many people, if you love shooting aircraft, you must go to Oshkosh. And I hesitated for years but with what was attending this year’s AirVenture, I had to go. So many great images along with such great memories. What I remember most from Oshkosh is the time I spent with other photographers. As well as the feeling of being surrounded with all things aviation related and being around other aviation nerds!

Photographically shooting at Oshkosh, it’s a target rich environment. I enjoyed just wondering into the sea of aircraft and finding hidden gems. The daily afternoon airshow offers a diverse mix of old and new. Facing east and in the the afternoon, the light is great. The only negative thing of this year AirVenture photographic, was the moving of the show line due to the USN Blue Angels. But seeing Doc and Fifi together in formation was priceless. The USAF bomber formation with the B-1, B-2 and B-52 was pretty cool too.

Selfridge open house was a disappointment flying wise, but the static display was far better. It was there where I started my personal challenge to show a sense of motion with jets. I did manage to capture two but felt I could do better. It was at Selfridge where I started a newest technique. With 3 to 4 images that could stand alone but when placed side by side, you can visualize the whole aircraft. Adding one more way to look at things differently.

At the northern illinois airshow, I continued my challenge of showing a sense of motion with jet. I also went back to some of my roots so to speak at Waukegan, I shot with Canons 400mm F/5.6. Which I shot for years until I purchase my 500mm F/4.5. I love the 400 5.6, I cannot say anything negative about it. Its tack sharp and easy to shoot slow.

The show had a great little line up, two F-86 Sabres, two AD-1 Skyraiders, a MiG-17, a TBM, a T-33, A-4 and a civilian F-5 that tore up the pattern a bit. That show was a real treat for me shooting wise, I got to use up all my “bag of tricks”. I think the Waukegan show was the only show this season I went to that it didn’t rain!

Wings over Houston was my final show of the 2017 season. A solid and strong show to end my season. Mother Nature tried hard to make a mess, but she played nice and the show went on without any hiccups. The atmosphere was amazing all weekend, the clouds and the light together made for a dramatic back drop.

What was most memorable for me during my stay in Houston was the time I spent with friends. Having dinner with Steve-O and his bunch. Running into Wil Ward and catching up with him. And a happen chance of Ken Cheung parking right next to me on Sunday morning. It’s really great hanging out with others that enjoy aviation and photography as much as I do. The sharing and making memories.

So, what to come in 2018? I want to continue to get out of comfort zone and keep trying to see things differently that results in producing images unique to me. I also desire to continue to create images that speak to viewers along with tells a story. To keep growing and nurturing my passion for photography. I feel it is crucial for me to shoot the images I want and not the images anyone can shoot. I’m going to continue to seek out aircraft I have not seen and try to shoot them in great light.

As for shows and aviation events, this winter I want to get my passport so next year I want to travel to Europe. Going to Duxford and Mach loop is on my bucket list. If not 2018, then 2019. I like to return to Florida and go to the TICO show again just due to lighting there. After this years AirVenture, I want to spend time the whole week there next year. I think those two shows will be my only repeat shows from 2017. The rest of the 2018 season, I want to find new shows and events that I have never been to. Nothing is set in stone as of now, just ideas.

Let’s talk about future gear. Planning on getting a Canon 5DSR soon. I rented one for quite a few shows this year and enjoy the higher resolution and creative cropping ability. I love showing off details of things and with 50 megapixels, it really brings out every little detail. I have been toying with the idea with getting a small mirror-less camera to increase my capacities to capture my adventures. I have found a DSLR is too big or too much camera for some situations. I have been using my iPhone more and more as a fill in the gap to help tell the stories of my travels. But it is very limiting in terms of control. Some photographers like the idea that cellphone cameras have no controls and it forces them to use what they know to capture an image. I like that idea, but I want minimum controls. As well as being able to shoot less conspicuously than with a larger DSLR. So, I have been eyeing up Fujifilm X-T20. But I just upgraded my phone to an iPhone 8 plus. Which has a better camera than my older iPhone 6. Before I go out and buy a new camera, I’m going put the new phone through it paces and see how it fairs.

During the winter, I’m going to get a new camera backpack. I have out grown my current backpack. My main complaint about it is it can not hold my laptop. It would make traveling easier if I can put my laptop in my camera backpack, so I do not have to carry an extra bag. And having my laptop with me while I’m out one of my adventures will give me the option to dump/clear my cards and not have to worry about having enough space for next day of shooting. I feel the MindShift Gear BackLight 36L Backpack will suit my needs. Size wise it is larger then my current pack and has dedicated compartments for a 10” tablet and 15” laptop.

I have found that my phone is a powerful tool when it comes to blogging. I can upload and process images in Adobe Lightroom along with write post in Microsoft word. Both apps are synced to my accounts. So, whatever I do on my phone, I can save and continue on my work station and vice versa. Being able to work anywhere with an internet connection will hopefully speed up my postings process. I do love the ability to write anywhere at anytime. I also pick up a Philips digital voice recorder. I feel it will be another helpful tool while I’m traveling. I feel confident I will continue to capture images that tells a story, speakers my views and are unique to me.

 

Until next post,

Steven