Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Z Is For Zoom

They Zoom Overhead, And We Zoom In As They Fly

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


It's not often you have the privilege of photographing one of the most iconic fighter aircraft in aviation history - but as some of you would remember, about six weeks ago I drove 1200 kilometres for the chance to shoot some images of Spitfires at the Temora Aviation Museum.

The Museum has the only two airworthy Spitfires in Australia and while there are always some amazing photo opportunities in the Outback, this was one rare photo shoot I wasn't going to miss for anything.


The first image, of the Spitfire Mark XVI climbing into the sky over Temora, was taken with a 70-300mm zoom lens. I was in the stands with hundreds of others and I shot an entire series of images as the fighter started its takeoff, the tail came up and finally the aircraft became airborne.

The first image in this sequence, shot without a tripod, shows the distinctive undercarriage retracting into the wheel wells in each wing.

The second image (above) shows the Spitfire in tandem with another World War II-vintage fighter, the US-built Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk.


This shot (above) shows the clean shape of the Spitfire's distinctive (and famous) eliptical wing, which was inspired by the late Reginald Mitchell's observation of seagulls and their wing shape. In the shot you can actually see the fighter's original 20mm Hispano cannon, the distinctive scoop or air intake under the fuselage, as well as its angled tailwheel.


And when a Spitfire, flying inverted, reaches the topmost point of a loop, several hundred metres above you, there is one other thing you must remember to do as you watch and admire the beauty of its performance. You have to remember to press the shutter on your camera.


If you missed my earlier series of Spitfire images at Temora, you can see them at W Is For Warbirds.

It's fitting that these images were shot on 6 June, which as you would know is the 65th anniversary of the Normandy landings. There is a very neat symmetry in being able to shoot these images on such a historic day.

And yes, I'd drive 1200 kilometres again, to capture images of this aircraft in flight. Wouldn't you?

For the home of ABC Wednesday, go to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.

35 comments:

Jazz said...

Now that you've made it to Z, are you going to start over again?

Mojo said...

Well if I was envious before when you posted the closeup photos of the Spitfire, I'm positively green now! What a fabulous opportunity. Not just the Spitfire, but a fully operational P-40 as well? Two workhorse aircraft without which the war could not have been won.

You bet I'd drive that far to get these shots. Truly superb! And in the first one, you can't even tell you're on the ground. I don't know how you managed to get that angle, but it's a masterful shot!

Sara said...

Well I KNOW someone who would....

and even though I didnt mention anyone by name in my blog birthday post last Wednesday l hope you know I was referring to you in there...

Eternally Distracted said...

Very cool pictures especially as they were taken on such an historic day.

Charles Gramlich said...

I just watched a show about WWII fighter planes the other day. I always wanted to fly a Spitfire. Ever since as a kid I read the Battle of Britain.

Lori ann said...

Those must have been hard to get, well done!

Celebration of Life said...

Great pix and interesting narrative, David. Hope you are having a great week!
Jo

spacedlaw said...

When I saw the title of the post I thought you would speak about photographic apparatus, but this is great too.

RuneE said...

I suppose I would have D for Ducked...

introspection said...

Absolutely wonderful shots..!!!
i dont know what else to say, really. Fantastic.

lakeviewer said...

I'm glad there are people like you, David, driving all those Kilometers to catch these birds.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Everyone is in love with thew Spitfire - such grace and serenity beautifully captured by your camera ~ Eddie

Maggie May said...

That was well worth the journey! Great shots.

Denise said...

Wonderful! Those old planes are truly a beautiful sight.

Janie said...

The aerobatic shots are terrific. I'd get dizzy just trying to watch them, much less trying to catch it all through a camera lens.

cheshire wife said...

That must have been quite a sight!

Madame DeFarge said...

I'd drive just to hear their engines, which have the most marvellous sound in the world. Love them

Moannie said...

And to think that I actually saw them fighting over my head.

Leslie: said...

Aha! Two meanings for the word "zoom." Great ones, too! I remember my Dad's telling me about his adventures flying through the clouds with his pilot buddies during WWII.

Come see my zamboni! :D

Cris said...

Very nice shots.

James said...

Great choice. I would love to see those things zooming around.

Artist Unplugged said...

What a fascinating plane, I noticed the eliptical shape on them, unusual. Great shots you got there....thanks for the history.

Roger Owen Green said...

Zoom, indeed; great photos.

Grace and Bradley said...

I remember seeing then in the hanger from your previous blog and glade now seeing them really in the air. My post also on "Zoom", but very different from yours.

Mushy said...

I especially love the first frame...I needed that!

Willow said...

That is SO cool!

willow said...

Super pics, David!!

Shadow said...

beautiful planes of old...

Babooshka said...

One day this photographer will actually have z for zoom. I am yet again envious. Who wouldn't be to so up close and personal to one of these beauties.

LadyFi said...

Brilliant photos!

Jay said...

Those shots are beautiful! I love the first, handheld one, of the undercarriage retracting!

They certainly were a very distinctive shape, weren't they? Although, if I remember rightly, the Hurricane is very similar.

Rose said...

Fantastic series of photos of these classic aircraft. I had never thought before how difficult it would be to get such close-ups, but of course my little point-and-shoot camera could never do this:) Thanks for sharing and for explaining how you were able to get such great photos.

Q said...

Zoom-zoom-zoom is right!
Sometimes the Stealth will fly over my house..it is other worldly...scares me!
Happy ABC Wednesday. Always fun.
Sherry

Jim said...

Very cool. I've always been enamored with war aircraft, although not the war that goes with it. Give me a good dogfight in a movie and I'm happy for hours.

Regina said...

Incredible shots.
Regina