Here we are at the end of 2018. Time to reflect on this year’s goals I set for myself and see what I accomplished. Yeah, I reduce my online presence with my photography this year. I quit Instagram and just recently I abandon Facebook. Both are not the platform in which I want to share my work. Last year, I had just about 1200 visitors with 4800 views. 2018, I got about 1100 visitors but with over 6600 views. I don’t care about the number of people who visit my blog, I care about the one who come, look around and stay for a while. People who read what I say and enjoy it.
I felted that I did embrace my idea of “It’s about concentration and not validation”. I started a series called “Exploring My Creativity”. The examination of my creativity starting withPassionand followed up withInspiration.Two of my most difficult post and currently working on part three, “My Eye for Aesthetics”.
Let’s me be honest, I like the attention I get from showing off my work. We all do, in some shape or form. But that should not be the reason why we create and share. We live in a time where photography is oversaturated. If you don’t believe me, just google “number of images on instagram, on Flickr or on Facebook” and see what you find. And it seems like the spotlight shines on those who can get the most “Likes” verses those who have a true talent or have a creative and artistic vision. I can’t say I am either. Ansel Adam once said, “The production of beauty without other motivation.” That really resonates with me and I’m going to make that my focus of all my passions during 2019.
My Photography and Writing
More meaningful content along with photography with intention. It may upset some of you and I might even lose some you. But they’re things I need to speak about. Things I feel are important to me and I must do what I feel is right.
To keep growing, struggling with things and to keep pushing my creativity. Maybe play with abstract, shoot more landscape, to continue to travel to new places.
To continue to create images that are unique to Me. If I only go to one event or a thousand next year, I don’t care. And just like 2018, I will not continue to attend the same shows and events in past years.
Here’s my favorite 10 images from 2018. Each of them has a story behind them as well as they clearly define what I remember of events of 2018. Every time I look at them, it’s like a time machine taking my back to those moments. Doing things I enjoy, hanging out with friends, meeting cool people and seeing some cool shit.
I also got into trouble along the way. While back in Virginia, my sister, her husband and I when to the Tidewater Comicon. Like Rick, I pissed off Negan! This Summer, the Detroit Institute of Arts hosted the Star Wars costume exhibit. Vader got a little frustrated with me and tried force choking me. Then out at Vegas during the Star Trek convention, the Borg tried to assimilate me! After that I found out what happens when you call a Klingon a p’tach!
I’m not buying into to the mirror-less trend. Until Canon comes up with a singles lenses mount, I’m sticking to DSLR. And in 2019, I’m going full frame baby! For X-mas, I got myself a Canon 5DS R and the 24-70mm F/2.8L MK II. Both came with a bundle of goodies. Extra cards and batteries, grip, filters… Got a new sling bag too. It’s not as big as my backpack and larger then my messenger bag. And just like last year, end of the year is a great time to back-up your images. I back-up my images(including images from my phone)on 3 different hard drives to reduce the chances of losing everything at once and in one location. Back That Shit up Photographers!
My Model Making
Like my photography and writing, to keep growing, struggling with things and to keep pushing my creativity.
To be more of a model maker, making my own parts and be less of a kit builder. Been playing with the idea of getting a vinyl cutter, so I could make my own custom paint mask along with making custom vinyl surface detail.
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Saturday morning in the kitchen, Vincent and Chuck were eating breakfast and talking about Vincent’s P-51 Mustang Ride he got the day before. After a while the rest of the house had awoken and made their way into the kitchen. We all figured out what we were going to do for the daily events. It being Saturday, 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 warbirds. 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, patient, took suggestions as well as suggested ideas. Gary Daniels too was just as great, he did a wonderful job with Ryan and Steven fine tuning their positions as well as asking the group how we felt. Everybody was very respectful of each other and our surrounding, we played very well with each other. After we felt we had enough of the P-40, we moved on to Jack Larson’s P-51 Sierra Sue II. There we continue the same routine of position, shoot, experiment, reshoot, all the while being mindful of others and we were starting to draw a crowd! For me, that shoot was the most memorable experience during my 2017 trip to Oshkosh.
After that charged shooting session, Gary Daniel, Scott Slingsby and I, slowed down and get a bite to eat. From there Scott and I made our way over the vintage area to see one of the award-winning aircraft.
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.
Saturday’s airshow was a special for aviation enthusiasts. We got to see all the iconic WWII bombers we all love. Flying in formations that has not 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 meticulous 16-year restoration. Which was followed by a parade of bombers with 2 B-29 Superfortresses, 4 B-25 Mitchells and a B-17s.
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.
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 the house, it was 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 goodbyes 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 clothes and gear. We all said our goodbyes 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 a 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 cannot do if justice. It is something every aviation and photography nerd must experience at least once.
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!
Shot out of my sunroof with my iPhone
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.