Show 5, Post 2: Result of my experiment
So, I was restless the night before the show. Wondering and hoping that there would be the right amount of clouds to try my experiment. As soon as I woke up, I got out of bed, made my way to a window to check out the sky…straight overcast.
But the forecast said it was going to break up as the day went on. But to what degree? There can’t be too many cloudy to block the light from the sun and too little does not work either. Trying to blur blue sky is pointless. Having the right mixing of blue sky and clouds is key. But I will come to find it is much more to it. Plus, if there were no clouds or if it stayed overcast all day, I had no back plan for how I was going to shoot the show differently.
The show had a great line up of jets to try my “sense of motion” idea on. Dean Cutshall’s F-100, Paul Keppler’s F-86, Randy Ball’s MiG-17 and Greg Colyer’s T-33. The Colling Foundation F-4D was a no show. First off, this was a bad show to try this on. Selfridge show line faces west, Flying doesn’t start until 11am. Meaning the sun crosses the show line early on during flying and then become backlit. The cloud cover did help break the back lighting but for only a short period of time. Another reason is how far the aircraft flew from the show line. Oh My God! Even with a 500mm, most of the fighter size aircraft looked like they were shot with a 70-200mm. They looked very small in the viewfinder. Good thing I was shooting with the 50-megapixel 5DSR, can crop in post process. The last factor was the wind, there was a 10 to 15 knot wind toward the show line. If you ever shot any large glass, you know how much you love shooting on windy days. I love shooting my 500mm but when it is windy, it seems like that auto focus(AF) point gets much smaller as I struggle to keep it on my subject.
I got to be honest, shooting at 1/160th to 1/125th most of the day was unnerving. You shoot long enough, you get uses to hearing a certain speed of your shutter that you know is fast enough to capture what you’re shooting. Not me today, 1/160th to 1/125th sounded wrong for jets. I would shoot a pass, chimp, shoot another pass, chimp. And I knew beforehand my keeper rate was going to go to shit, but damn! I was starting to think that this was a bad idea (I got scared) and dialed the shutter up to 1/200th.
Even in the crappy shooting conditions I did manage these two images of jet that show motion that I’m happy with. The image of Greg Colyer’s T-33 was shot at 1/160th and the Hornet image was at 1/200th. I know I wanted to go slower but I did not have to nerve to do it. Will I try it again? You better believe it!
Here’s what I learned and was the point of this experiment. As always, you need good light on your subjects. It just makes it easier went you’re not struggle with the sun. Next, you must be 100% comfortable knowing your keeper rate is going to shit. You’re going miss a bunch of shots. Per pass, my keeper rate averages about 60 to 70%. Today, it was maybe 8 or 9%. Had lots of junk. I think I would had done better if the flying was closer, making the subjects larger in the frame and having a larger area to put my AF point on. Along with it not being so windy. You must be able to keep the AF point on the subject while panning. For my blogging skills, this show I carried along a notepad and took notes thought out the day. So, come time to write it too was not a struggle and recalling events was much easier.
My reason for trying this was twofold. The first reason is fairly obvious, to show a sense of motion while capturing jets. Which I do and have done for takeoff and landing shots but not while flying. With all the talk about prop blur while at Oshkosh, I started questioning the way I shoot jet aircraft and how it is acceptable to freeze jets but not props. Finally, to continue to challenge myself and to nurture my passion for aviation photography even more. It maybe be cliché to so but I feel it to be true, “If you’re not learning, you’re not growing!” For me to grow, I must get outside of my comfort zone, try something new and struggle with it. Find out what works well for me to get the results I was looking for. It’s ok to fail as long as you learn from your mistakes. When thing get easy, it time to chance it up. This was a great way to make shooting jet hard for me again. It was too easy to set my 7D MKII in aperture priority @ F/4.5 with AI servo and high speed continuous shooting mode, I could show jet all day long and have a keeper rate damn near 95%. Check out my Super Hornet high speed pass images from Gary South shore airshow. For me, easy is not challenging. And not being challenged, leaves little to no room to learn and grow. Conceptualize an image, try to capture it in your “mind’s eye”, struggle with it and learn!
Thanks for stopping by and until later,