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Gear Talk => Canon General => Topic started by: serendipidy on October 03, 2012, 09:25:26 PM

Title: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: serendipidy on October 03, 2012, 09:25:26 PM
I've never formally attended an air show, although I've seen some from a distance. Three days ago, I went to the Blue Angels air show in Hawaii and got a chance to try out my first time novice skills with my 7D and 8 month old 100-400mm L. WOW, what a great show! Estimated that about 70,000 visitors attended. Can't wait for another one to come along. :D

Having never even tried BIF (these were larger but moving much faster than most birds), I googled the topic of air show photography the day before and read some suggestions (very helpful and wouldn't have been nearly so fun without the advice). I basically set the 7D to Tv @ 1/1000 with auto ISO (max set to 400) and auto white balance. The focus and exposure mode was usually on spot. Almost all the shots were taken @ 400mm. All were JPGs taken hand held and, since the show lasted 5 hours, my arms were quite tired at the end. :P

I took about 1000 exposures and have picked out several of the best to post. I would love to hear some tips from any of you more experienced air show photographers, so next time I might do better. These were PP in DPP (probably over cooked since I am still learning). Any constructive comments are welcome (don't be too hard).

Thanks for looking and any helpful hints. I really enjoy this site and have learned a lot here.
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: serendipidy on October 03, 2012, 09:30:14 PM
A few more from the same show, but not Blue Angels.
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: awinphoto on October 03, 2012, 11:24:17 PM
Great shots. I tried out the 100-400 and my 5d3 at the Reno air races this year. Of course when I went, the big show, an f-22 couldn't fly for some mechanical problem, but a good lens.
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: awinphoto on October 03, 2012, 11:29:09 PM
Too many pics and on my iPhone, but here's a link to my pics. http://m.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.433188113385583.91425.328249047212824&type=1&refid=17 (http://m.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.433188113385583.91425.328249047212824&type=1&refid=17)  If you have problems seeing them let me know
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: albedo13 on October 03, 2012, 11:47:29 PM
I have been doing serious airshow photography as an amateur for the last 5 or 6 years, and still have a long way to go to get to where I would like to be.  First and foremost, I would recommend checking out Fencecheck.com, this is a website by and for aviation photographers.  There are lots of tips and great examples from people posting their shots.  Second, I assume you are shooting in raw, if not then you are giving up a great portion of the information in each shot, which you need for dealing with the lighting situations you will deal with at airshows.  I use Av and whatever ISO I need to get a shutter speed faster than 1/2000 for jets, and use Tv with a shutter speed of 1/50 - 1/80 to get prop blur on propeller planes, and also use the Tv for any aircraft that will be low enough to get background in for blurring.  At the recent airshow at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, VA I took over 20,000 shots over 3.5 days...and am still going through all of them!  Oceana (and Langley AFB) are unique in the east coast for having night shows on the Friday of the airshow weekend; glowing afterburners, airborne fireworks displays, and often spectacular sunsets make for incredible combinations if you are lucky enough to get them all right.  Just keep shooting and have fun!  Here are some of my favorites so far from Oceana.

Jim
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: Promature on October 04, 2012, 12:12:31 AM
Roger Cicala on shooting air shows:
"One effective technique to get some room when you’re at a crowded airshow: set the 600 vertically with the hood end on the ground, get a serious look on your face, and announce loudly 'you folks should step back from the blast area before we launch this.'"
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: serendipidy on October 04, 2012, 02:01:03 AM
@ Awinphoto
Very nice captures. Looks like a great show.

@ Jim
Thanks for your post. Hope I'm that good in 5 years. I really like the beautiful sunsets as a back drop.
I know I should start using RAW but those were all shot in JPG. Using a slower shutter speed for the props planes really emphasizes a feeling of speed.. Mine were all shot at 1/1000 and it freezes the propellers and looks kind of artificial.
What camera and lens do you usually use at air shows?
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: PeterJ on October 04, 2012, 03:59:07 AM
Roger Cicala on shooting air shows:
"One effective technique to get some room when you’re at a crowded airshow: set the 600 vertically with the hood end on the ground, get a serious look on your face, and announce loudly 'you folks should step back from the blast area before we launch this.'"
LOL. If you're the strong but silent type you could also try a Sigma 200-500mm f/2.8 and you probably wouldn't have to announce anything ;D.
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: K3nt on October 04, 2012, 04:15:53 AM
Serendipidy: Nice work, if that's your first go at it, you did really well. I especially like the third shot in your first post. The simplistic composition of the sole plane, the air streams on the side of the cockpit and you left good room on the left part of the shot so it doesn't feel cramped. My only change, I would open the shadows/brighten/dodge the plane it self a little, it is slightly dark. On the other hand, this monitor I am viewing on at work isn't exactly calibrated.  ;)

Albedo13: Those planes and sunset are lovely. Paticularly the last one with the formation heading in to the sunset, great timing. And thanks for the tips, if I go to an airshow I'll have a pretty good idea on what settings to use.  :D
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: AprilForever on October 04, 2012, 05:16:53 AM
I like the third one also, as well as the last one of the, flying into the sunset. Maybe lighten the shadows on that image a bit?
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: serendipidy on October 04, 2012, 05:17:38 AM
K3nt

Thanks for your kind words and critique. I will try out your suggestions.
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: serendipidy on October 04, 2012, 07:23:05 AM
I purchased PSE 9 and then 10 but have never tried or used them. First attempt to lighten the shadows on my 3rd photo of the Blue Angel jet.
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: K3nt on October 04, 2012, 09:12:09 AM
I purchased PSE 9 and then 10 but have never tried or used them. First attempt to lighten the shadows on my 3rd photo of the Blue Angel jet.

Perfect. Wouldn't change a thing.
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: woollybear on October 04, 2012, 10:04:40 AM
My contribution...
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: awinphoto on October 04, 2012, 10:34:38 AM
@ Awinphoto
Very nice captures. Looks like a great show.

@ Jim
Thanks for your post. Hope I'm that good in 5 years. I really like the beautiful sunsets as a back drop.
I know I should start using RAW but those were all shot in JPG. Using a slower shutter speed for the props planes really emphasizes a feeling of speed.. Mine were all shot at 1/1000 and it freezes the propellers and looks kind of artificial.
What camera and lens do you usually use at air shows?

Thanks... Hopefully we will get the blue angels here next year... 
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: distant.star on October 04, 2012, 11:10:26 AM

.
Albedo, I really like that C130 landing. That is great photography!
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: albedo13 on October 05, 2012, 01:52:56 AM
@ Awinphoto
Very nice captures. Looks like a great show.

@ Jim
Thanks for your post. Hope I'm that good in 5 years. I really like the beautiful sunsets as a back drop.
I know I should start using RAW but those were all shot in JPG. Using a slower shutter speed for the props planes really emphasizes a feeling of speed.. Mine were all shot at 1/1000 and it freezes the propellers and looks kind of artificial.
What camera and lens do you usually use at air shows?

I use a 1D4 with a 500 f4 for primary and a 1DS2 with 100-400 as my secondary and for formation flights.  And I can not emphasize raw enough...the extra lattitude you get for doing enhancements is amazing, and the new version of Adobe Camera Raw can do some incredible things.  On Fencecheck, that is the #1 piece of advice given for improving your shots.
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: albedo13 on October 05, 2012, 01:55:59 AM

.
Albedo, I really like that C130 landing. That is great photography!

Thanks!  Actually that is at takeoff.  They don't do the rocket assist on takeoff anymore, but the vertical climb out they can do with a C130 is amazing, and if there is even a little moisture in the air you get some pretty wild prop vapor.
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: serendipidy on October 05, 2012, 02:42:32 AM
Jim,

Thanks for the advice. I really should start using RAW instead of JPG. I will checkout Fencecheck.

Any tips on how you keep the plane so sharp when it is moving and shutter speed is 1/50-1/80 range? I guess it is really good panning. Do you use IS when panning? I love that sharp spiral effect behind each propeller. How do you do that...is that because of the prop vapor?

The Blue Angels "Fat Albert" C-130 was at the air show and I got this shot (wasn't in a good location so cluttered foreground/background).
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: picturesbyme on October 05, 2012, 04:58:06 AM
200mm f/2.8L II - 60D - over the beach

(more here: http://atlanticpicture.com/p361947354 (http://atlanticpicture.com/p361947354) )

(http://atlanticpicture.com/img/s2/v53/p931237575-4.jpg)

(http://atlanticpicture.com/img/s1/v48/p285500827-3.jpg)
Title: Re: Air Shows-How do you shoot them? (my first attempt)
Post by: albedo13 on October 05, 2012, 01:01:36 PM
Jim,

Thanks for the advice. I really should start using RAW instead of JPG. I will checkout Fencecheck.

Any tips on how you keep the plane so sharp when it is moving and shutter speed is 1/50-1/80 range? I guess it is really good panning. Do you use IS when panning? I love that sharp spiral effect behind each propeller. How do you do that...is that because of the prop vapor?

The Blue Angels "Fat Albert" C-130 was at the air show and I got this shot (wasn't in a good location so cluttered foreground/background).
I hold the shutter button down and just keep shooting a continuous series of shots.  It seems like after about the first 2 or 3, you get "aligned" with the motion of the aircraft and can sometimes get some that come out sharp enough.  Of course you eat up alot of card space this way, so you have to decide if it is worth getting one good one for a hundred blurry pieces of "abstract art"!  I use IS mode 2 (moving target), because I figure it increases my odds of getting aligned with the moving target.  Start building up your panning skills slowly, i.e. start with panning at 1/100th and get comfortable with that and then slow it down even more gradually.  I like to practice on airliners coming in over my house, or with birds, and I know alot of people use cars on highways to practice.  Maybe you could use surfers there in Hawaii??  It definitely is also a muscle memory thing, it seems like once you are comfortable with a range/method of movement it gets easier, but you also havge to maintain that, so I try to practice at least every couple weeks.

The vapor off the props is a benefit of the slow exposure.  If your exposure is slow enough and you are shooting from the side (as opposed to head or tail on) the blades will actually make several complete arcs as the aircraft moves forward, and you get a corkscrew effect.  I have seen some shots where it is quite dramatic.  Shooting in high humidity or fog makes this even more dramatic.  Would love to see more of your pics, there are probably some unique opportunities there for aviation shots.

Jim