Choosing Light over Available Subjects

Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” These wise words are so true even in aviation photography. The repeated attendance of aviation events based on a list of demonstration teams and performers over an event with great lighting conditions is crazy to me. And let’s face it, we go to events to see and experience living breathing aircraft take flight. Shooting static aircraft is really just a matter of waiting for the right time of day. We don’t get to choose what flies or performs in whatever light we want. But we can choose events with better overall lighting conditions. That we choose light over available subjects.

Such stunning light in the late afternoon

In this episode of “Philosophy about Photography”. I want to talk about choosing an event with purpose over subjects of opportunity. After attending countless aviation events over the past 17 years, I’ve become very critical about what show or event I will attend. Just because there’s an event nearby, doesn’t mean I’m going to it. I have a tried and tested trifecta of reasoning for attending an aviation event. For me, it takes great lighting conditions, multiple shooting locations, and subjects I want to see. And having only one doesn’t cut it.

Light and location go hand in hand. The quality of light at an aviation event is directly proportional to your shooting location, show/crowd line, and the path of the Sun. There are numerous other factors that must be considered. Such as, where’s the show/crowd line? And what direction is it facing? Where’s the Sun now? And where will it be later? Does the event cater to photographers? How late can I stay after the show ends? Also, there are events with good light only for part of the day. Wings over Houston for example, the show faces east and at the start of the show, the light is garbage. The good thing is flying tends to start in the late afternoon. The first few acts are backlit but before you know it and for the rest of the show the sun is at your back. NAS Oceana is the exact opposite. The lighting conditions are good until midday and the Sun crosses overhead and then starts backlighting the event just in time for the Blue Angels.

My reasoning behind having multiple shooting locations is, I feel one cannot capture the feeling or present the experiences of a show from one location. There’s just too much going on to show from one point of view. When you do, all your images have the same perspective and tend to look the same. And you quickly lose the interest of your viewers and they either click away to some other interest or continue scrolling past the rest of your photos. My remedy for this stagnation is to shoot the first half of a show in one location and then the second half in another for one-day events. And for multi-day shows, to switch up locations on different days. The results tend to show a more complete picture of the show and I’m able to tell a more complex story with my images.

How many of my sought-after aircraft are supposed to be at one of these well-lit events? I may get to see two or three per show if I’m lucky. But for me, I’m in it for the long game. And with warbirds being my jam, I tend to gravitate towards the larger warbird events like the Planes of Fame air show in Chino California, EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, and Thunder Over Michigan in Ypsilanti. And even when I make it out to a show with quality light along with the aircraft I want to see, there is still no guarantee that I will add any unique images to my portfolio. Events get canceled, Mother Nature likes to start tripping on show weekends, and unfortunately, accidents happen as well.

Yeah, you can use Lightroom and Photoshop to add filters and layer masks to correct for crappy light. But those images will not be as good as ones shot in superior conditions. And the workflow of processing a set of images from a poorly lit event is tedious and time-consuming. I’ve been there, done that and no thank you. But at least we can pick events that are more in our favor to produce better results.

Thanks for stopping by,

Steven

Quick & easy seamless desktop photo backdrop 

Have you ever wondered how people took pictures of their models with a seamless single-color background? The secret is having a curve in whatever material you are using for a background. And I’m going to show you how to make a simple and inexpensive one. You’re going to need a couple of pieces of foam core or cardboard, a straight edge, an X-Acto blade, a pen, a hot glue gun, some double-sided tape and a solid color sheet of paper. The thicker the better. For mine, I used a Letter size sheet of glossy photo paper. Whatever size you choose, you’ll need to hot glue two pieces of foam core or cardboard at 90 degrees. And to support it as well as keep it from falling back, hot glue two support/legs to the rear of the vertical wall of the backdrop. Now place two strips of double-sided tape to the base. One should be on the edge and the other about 24mm(1in) parallel to it. It is crucial that these two pieces of tape are parallel. As the second piece of tape is where the curve is going to start. If this piece of tape is not parallel and if its wiggly, it’s going to bitch up your background curve. To find the location of the third piece on the vertical wall, hold your piece of paper at the edge of the base and gently flex it into shape. Keep in mind you want to have a flat section before the curve. This section is where you will place your photo subjects. Now mark a line on the vertical wall where your piece of paper ends. Making sure it runs high enough so when you are taking pictures, it will fill the frame. Place the double-sided tape, making sure they’re all straight and parallel to one another. The order in which I removed the backing of the tape was, the two on the base then the one on the vertical wall. Now comes the tricky part. Lift the edge of the paper carefully to remove the backing of the last piece of tape. Don’t flex it too much and put a crease in it. You want to have a seamless defect free curve. Now just setup your lights, put your camera on a tripod and shoot away. I made mine this size so it could easily fit on my workbench so I can take some “In Progress” shots and keep working without making a production out of it. This way I didn’t have to stop what I’m doing, relocate to my so-called “shooting area”, set everything up, shoot, then locate back to the workbench to continue working. You can scale it up to any size to meet your needs. If you go larger, I recommend using something stronger like Gator board or Masonite for the base and vertical wall. Along with styrene or some other sheet plastic for the background curve. And to secure it into position with your favorite two-part epoxy. If you struggle with photographing your models, you may want to look into this post, “Photographing Scale Models”. Hope you found this useful and helpful.

Build what brings you joy,

Steven

My Nerdy Binge List

There are plenty of lists out there, but this one is mine. I love science fiction and well written dramas. There are some popular shows that are not on my list, either because I haven’t got around to them or just not interested. I tend to stay away from cooking, reality and “Who done it” crime shows. You probably noticed I did not put descriptions about any of the series. I have found that shows and movies are so much better when you have little to no knowledge about them. I also added a list of my favorite YouTubers. Enjoy!

Name of Series Where to watch in parenthesis as of March of 2021
Star Trek: The Next Generation, DS9, Voyager (Netflix/Hulu)
Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)
Stargate: SG1, Atlantis, Universe (Amazon Prime, Netflix/Hulu)
Battlestar Galactica 2004 series (Amazon, not Prime)
Dr Who (HBO MAX)
The Expanse (Amazon Prime)
Farscape (Amazon Prime)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu) Be warned, it’s dark.
Dark Matter (Netflix)
Orphan Black (Amazon Prime)
The X-Files (Hulu)
Firefly (Hulu)
Hell of Wheels (???)
Breaking Bad (Netflix)
Better call Saul (Netflix)
Longmire (Netflix)
Luther (HBO MAX)
Dexter (Hulu/Amazon Prime)
The Walking Dead (Netflix)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Black Mirror (Netflix) Be warned, it’s dark.
Love, Death + Robots (Netflix)
Star War: Clone Wars (Disney Plus)
The Mandalorian (Disney Plus)
Rick and Morty (Hulu, HBO MAX)
Bobs burgers (Hulu)
Archer (Hulu)
The Orville (Hulu)
Defiance (Netflix)
Red Dwarf (Amazon Prime)
Mystery Science Theater 3000(Amazon Prime, Netflix)
Continuum (???)
Torchwood (HBO MAX)
Humans (Amazon Prime)
Futurama (Hulu

Favorite YouTubers
Knowing Better (Educational)
Nerdwriter 1 (Video Essay)
This old Tony (Maker)
CGP Gray (Educational)
Nerd City (Don’t know how to classified them but check them out)
Kiwami Japan (Maker)
Frank Howarth (Maker)
My Mechanic (Maker)
Captain Joe (Aviation)
Marques Brownlee (Best Tech reviewer on YouTube)
Michael Cthulhu (Big sword Maker)
Bay Area Bugs (Gamer/Humor)
Polecat324 (Gamer/Humor)
ralfidude (Flight Sim/Humor)
Night Shift (Modelmaker)
NileRed (Educational)
Applied Science (Educational)
Sean Tucker (Photography)
Tom Scott (Educational)
Emmanuel Acho (Educational)
Rich Builds (Auto/Entertainment)
Mighty Car Mods (Auto/Entertainment)
Wendover Production (Educational)
Clickspring (Amazing craftsmen)
Practical Engineering (Educational)
SmarterEveryDay (Educational)
Economics explain (Educational)

And if you’re still bored? Take a look here…https://anadventureinawesome.com/2020/03/30/bored-and-in-lock-down-how-to-keep-yourself-occupied/

What are some of your favorite binge worthy shows? Along with who are the YouTubers you enjoy watching?

Stay safe and keep busy,
Steven

2020 Year Review

First off, I hope you and your loved ones are safe, healthy and continue to be into 2021. This year has been a complete dumpster fire, and this post is not about the historic gut-wrenching events that shaped it. But it will be about how my creativity was affected by the well fueled Inferno. And how my passions help me to keep my mind occupied and stay in a positive place during these trying times.

Like many, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. But having some yearly goals is more my taste. I feel they are not set in stone and I can change or adapt them as the year goes on. And at the beginning of 2020, my goals were…

  • To travel more.
  • To write more and continue to develop my writing style.
  • To get a pocket-size camera.
  • And to keep building from imagination and not reality

I started 2020 in Japan with my sister and her family. And after such an unbelievable journey, I was enthusiastic about traveling along with blogging again. So, I started planning adventures for the coming year. Starting with in February for my birthday, I headed to the desert southwest of Arizona and I finally got to see the dream like colors and fluid shapes of Antelope Canyon. Then in April, I was to travel to the Pacific Northwest to see Crater Lake along with the giant coastal Redwoods. But in March, the dangers of COVID-19 were real, and the world stopped. And like so many others, I started my time in quarantine.

Being a creative individual, I didn’t have a shortage of projects to work on. Very early in quarantine, I started and maintained a daily routine that kept me busy and productive. It started every night before bed, I would write down things I would like to accomplish the next day. At first it was easy but as time pass by and I finished up projects, my “To do” list started to shrink, and I had to adapted it to help maintaining my peace of mind. Like how to stay informed on events of 2020 but not damage my peace. And start to recognize and cope with things that eroded my fragile tranquility.

My routine was so effective, there were days that I would overwhelm myself trying to accomplish too many things. And it would turn my productivity into frustration. Fortunately, I have come to notice it when it happens. I must stop what I’m doing and change my pace to let my mind and emotions settle. Catch up on shows, cook some of my favorite foods, Zoom with friends…anything other than keep fighting my frustrations. And when I feel like being creative again, I didn’t try to do a thousand things in one day. It was OK not to cross out everything on my daily list. And what I didn’t finish today, I’m fine with letting it carryover into tomorrow.

IMG_7069

Due to my lack of traveling and personal adventures, I worried that I would not have anything to write about being a travel blogger. But that wasn’t the case. I discovered that I didn’t have to make my way painfully through the TSA to write new post. This year I managed to develop, write, edit and post an astounding 20 times after my Antelope Canyon trip. Far more than last year.

The Pain of Sorting
Aesthetics
Bored and in Lock-down? How to keep yourself occupied
The Importance of Post Process
Detroit’s island Getaway
What does photography mean to You?
A Study in Color
Elements of Art in Photography
New site announcement
Memorial Day- Photo essay
The Story Behind an Image, Part 5
Aviation Expo 2020
The Truth
Banners of Change
Common mistakes made in Aviation Photography
The Right Massage
How I shoot with intent: Setting some personal goals
Stay informed and keep your mental health: How I watch the News
Photographing more Consistently: Having a Shooting Routine
Fall Color with my new little Sony

Looking over my list of post, I can remember with vibrant clarity my inspirations and motivations behind each of them. The wrestling with different ideas and how to express them with my writing voice. Along with the endless hours of searching through my photo archive for the right images to show. Some were ideas I had for some time and finally got the time to properly complete them. And others were spontaneously developed from something I had seen or read and wanted to share my opinion about it. But I surprised the shit out of myself that I came up with so much new content with such a wide range of topics while working on my other passions.

Speaking of other passions, I completed a new series of Airbus A319’s based on imagination rather than reality. From a retro Eastern Airline scheme to a NOAA hurricane hunter. I’ve been photoshopping for over 20 years and I’m always willing to learn something new. And having the time and money, it was a no-brainer to start taking online classes. I join Skillshare and took advantage of my time away from work. Taking courses from creative writing, leadership skills to new techniques in photoshop and illustrator. Your never too old to learn something new.

USN VQ 2 EP A319

One creative writing course I took, the instructor used Instagram as a platform to write and share stories. This idea resonated with me and I wanted to give Instagram another try. A few years ago, I had an account and to be honest, I didn’t understand the nature of the platform. Like how to use hashtags, what to share and really lack the patients and knowledge to let my account grow.

So, I started a new account with the idea to reach out to a possible new audience for my blog as well as share images of the things I love doing. And again, I found myself getting annoyed and frustrated with the slow pace of how my account was growing. This was due to what I was sharing, images from my adventures, my aviation profiles along with photos of my modeling projects on the same account. Three totally different audiences and once I separated them into different accounts and began posting consistently, that’s when they started to get some noticeable traction.

2020 Top Nine

Of my three accounts, @adventuresinawesome is the least successful. My post to follower ratio is nearly one to one and I’m going to slowly stop posting on that account. For one, it’s damn near impossible to get people to leave Instagram and go somewhere else, especially to a blog. And second, WordPress is a much better platform for me to share images and stories from my adventures. The account for my aviation photography is definitely my success story. It’s growing by leaps and bounds with each new post receiving hundreds of likes. The next time you’re on Instagram, be sure to check it out @far148studio and @far148models for my creative madness.

Let’s get back on topic. In terms of photography, I added another tool to my camera bag this year. During my trip to Japan, I noticed it was easier for me to use my mobile device then my DSLR to capture images without slowing down the experience of site seeing abroad. And I wanted a pocket size point & shoot camera to fill in that gap. What I ended up choosing was Sony’s ZV-1. And it arrived just in time for the peak of fall color in my area. It’s a great little addition to my camera bag and I’m looking forward to using it more. Now on to me torturing plastic.

My time in quarantine, allowed me to stretch out my builds far longer than normal. To the point of when it came to doing something, I would do it the hardest and sometimes the most illogical way possible. From scratch building new master parts to be pressure cast, to new ways to scribe panel lines along with adding various surface details. Like everything I love doing, I’m constantly challenging myself to attempt different techniques to continually grow as a model maker. Some things worked out amazingly and others got tossed in the garbage. I did manage to finish my 1/48 scale Hunter/Killer drones which I started back in August of 2019.

We finally made it to December and another holiday season. It would be a gross understatement to say, “I cannot wait for this troubled year to come to a close”. And I want to hope that 2021 is going to be better. But only time will tell. Until then, continue to stay safe, think positively and keep busy.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by my little blog, left a like or comment and welcome to all my new followers.

Until next year,

Steven

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