I thought I’d write about something a bit different this week, and I remembered this series of shots taken at the 2007 Avalon International Air Show. A sky defines everything in a photographer’s world. Simple as that. The quality of the prevailing sky defines how you use a camera.
The Air Show was the first time I had actually spent time photographing a variety of aircraft, and I was hoping that the warm weather would bring clear skies. When we arrived at Avalon, there was a mainly blue sky, with patchy cloud on the horizon, but by the time the US Navy jets treated the capacity crowd to a fly-past, things had started changing.
One of the interesting things about an air show is that you are up closer to valuable machinery than you ever will be - but there are still tight restrictions. For one thing, you can only use the cordoned-off paths, so you have to work out your angles from within those strictures. Secondly, you have to work very hard to compose a shot without including the heads of at least 100 onlookers.
Once you realise that you need to work within those parameters, everything else is easy! For the first shot, I was able to follow the ropes to make the most of the camouflage paint on this fighter, as well as the clouds that were starting to roll in. I guess the back-to-front view, looking forward from the tail, the rudder and the engine nacelles, works fairly well.
For the second, I had to walk very quickly - against the flow of onlookers, mind you - to get an almost-silhouette of these fighters on the runway apron.
I used a Sigma 18-125 lens for everything I shot that day and I was very pleased with the results, not just for the frames shot of static displays on a tarmac, but also for those taken of aircraft in flight. Regular readers of this blog know that I do not crop, edit or digitally enhance any of my photographs, so everything you see on this site is exactly what I shot, as I saw it through the viewfinder of my Pentax.
For the next air show, I’ll take my Sigma 70-300mm lens along. But guess what - I would probably not have composed any of the images on this post differently.
Yes, a 300mm lens would have given me great close-ups of any fly-past, but the reason I really like this last shot (below) is not just the orientation of the fighter as the pilot banks hard, with wings practically perpendicular to the ground. To me, the best part of the shot is the subtly-toned sky that the jet is crackling through at a great rate of knots.
Like I said before, sky is everything - because it really defines this last shot.
For other participants in Dot’s concept, go to Sky Watch HQ.