Let me start by apologizing that it has been so long.
A few months ago when I saw that the EAA Ford Trimotor tour was going to be stopping at Aurora and Salem, I contacted my friend Bryan Heim, who has a close connection to the B-17 Alliance. I thought they might be interested in being the site host for the visit. He responded by telling me he had volunteered me to be his co-event coordinator for this visit and asked if that was ok. Knowing this meant that I’d be able to spend a lot of quality time with the Trimotor, of course I said yes.
Turns out the work part was easier than I expected. Bryan and Terry, executive director for the alliance, took care of most of the volunteer coordination activities and the volunteers were so good, that on site everyone worked together like a well oiled machine. I took the job of being the guy signaling the pilot to start the engines, making sure no one was going to approach the props on foot.
The biggest part of the work I did however, was that Bryan and I helped the pilot bring the plane out of the storage hangar every morning and then helped him put it away in the evening. This job usually did involve a few brief moments of stress, moving an aircraft that valuable in and out of a hangar makes one worried about making a mistake that will damage the aircraft. The rest of the job was fun though. We watched the preflights, learning a lot about the aircraft, talked to the cool folks around the hangar, and took pictures.
The EAA tour folks worked very hard to make sure volunteers and others who helped with the event got rides in the plane, and I got a ride in the copilot’s seat. This was incredible fun and the slow, graceful movements the plane made were surreal when compared to my previous flying experience. The turn on to final was my favorite part, it looked like I was watching a slow motion reel. Of course, the turn on to final is a bittersweet moment, as it also reminds you the ride is almost over.
In conclusion, I couldn’t be happier that I took this opportunity. It was fun, I met a lot of good people, and it felt good to do this different sort of work.
Take a closer look at the Trimotor visit pics.
The day the Boeing 40C leaves WAAAM and heads to Spokane where its owners, Pemberton and Sons Aviation, are located, is always one of the best photo opportunity days. This year I got the word on Facebook that it was heading out Monday, April 18. That is much earlier than usual, because of the two reasons that the plane needed to be moved to beat some construction at WAAAM and had some early appearances scheduled.
On my drive there, as soon as I got on I84 and reached the West end of the Gorge, it was freakishly windy. Flying in strong winds is a concern for flying lighter aircraft, there is an increased chance for mishap, especially during landings. I knew that the wind was probably a little less at Hood River, but was still worried the whole thing may get canceled. As I got further East with no change, my anxiety level rose. When I got around five miles from Hood River and there was still no change, I was thinking the only hope was that the wind-speed wasn’t as high as it seemed. However, when I arrived at WAAAM, their beautiful garrison sized flag was hanging totally still. By the time the 40 was ready for departure, it had built up a bit, but was still slow enough for them to fly.
The day was backwards from most 40 departure days. The wind was from the East so the entire flight pattern was backwards. This did allow for different images than usual.
On August 19, one of WAAAM’s newest acquisitions, a Waco UIC cabin biplane, was flown to the museum by the chief pilot, Ben Davidson. Being a huge Waco fan, I had to go and photograph the arrival.
It was a little bit nerve racking, as there many wildfires nearby and the weather was still that day, leading to smoke filled skies. There was some chance this could interfere with the arrival, or in the very least mess up the photos. They were a bit later than expected, but this was due to the need to talk to some folks at one of the fuel stops, not by weather or fire. I had a heck of a time deciding where to go to photograph the arrival, but decided on the place that usually works out the best, with about 15 minutes to spare.
I had recently shot the motorcycle Second Saturday where I practiced panning, so my panning was at its best. The smoke was as expected, very heavy and it was quite smelly out there.
In the end, I liked the photos really well, despite the smoke. The smoke did make the sky look pretty bad, but when the plane was in front of terrestrial objects, the smoke added separation from the background that was pretty nice.
Funny thing is, the wind came up and the smoke cleared out shortly after the landing.
Take a closer look at the UIC arrival images.
On June 14, 2015, Erickson Aircraft Collection dedicated a very large flag to the Madras community for Flag Day. EAC published this event on their FB page and I received a personal message from somebody there saying I should give it a look.
I already had a pretty darn busy weekend, but figured this would be worth it, so added it to my schedule. The drive over there was an incredible experience, the weather was great, I had the open road in front of me and was listening to ‘70s tunes on my iPhone.
The event itself was really cool. The local JROTC were the primary handlers of the flag and veterans and others in the community also chipped in. The flag itself is beautiful and inspiring. Only downside is that I had difficulty finding a vantage point I was entirely happy with, except for when they were folding the flag inside the hangar, great vantage points easy during that time.
Of course, I can’t go to Erickson Aircraft Collection without photographing some planes also. I concentrated on the planes that were outside. I definitely feel that planes definitely look better outside, so I photograph them outside when possible.
aircraft, airplane, aviation, B-17 Alliance, history, light, Lightroom, living history, Nik, Nik Software, Oregon, photo, photograph, photography, Photoshop, plane, portrait, Post processing, reenactor, Salem, warbird
On June 13, 2015, the B-17 Alliance hosted the second annual Warbirds Over the West at McNary Field in Salem. This was the first time it was held at the Alliance’s new home in Salem. Knowing that my friends at the Living History Group Northwest were supposed to be at the show, I knew there was a chance for some images that were very important to me. I also knew to make them happen I’d need to ask some these great folks who I don’t know that well to do this for me with little benefit to them. (Can afford to give them some free pics, but little else.) This is a situation that often makes me quite anxious, so I was afraid I would chicken out and come home without the images.
I have been endeavoring to build a portfolio of images of people with vehicles in a Hollywood inspired style to show potential clients. The “aviatrix” shoot I recently wrote about with Sami Van Der Westhuizen and Carrie Strahle – makeup, was also part of this effort. If all went well at Warbirds Over the West, I felt certain I could reach the number of images I needed to show this portfolio as separate from my “people” portfolio on my web site.
With these images being the most important thing I had planned for the day, and the fact that the light would be deteriorating all day; I made it my first task for the day. Thanks to training with Toastmasters International and some other issues, I have been doing pretty well with these sorts of things when it has to do with my photography career. Thus, asking the various folks in these photos to pose for me went off without a single hitch and resulted in images that met what I envisioned very well. I couldn’t be more grateful for their help.
These images were shot and processed with the method I discussed on here earlier, How Do I Light Heroic Portraits? The only difference was I used a low-saturation version of the Lightroom preset I created. I usually do this with old military things.
Of course, there was a lot of other stuff going on at Warbirds Over the West. The headline was Grumpy was there from the Historic Flight Museum was giving flights to paying folks and doing flybys. Some friends from WAAAM flew the museum’s Taylorcraft L-2 and there was also a Stinson L-5 on hand. The beautiful, shiny DC-3 flew in from Aurora.
There was also live music and a beer garden, which proved to be the perfect way to chill after the big day.
In the end, it was a great day, I look forward to it next year.
aircraft, airplane, aviation, B17, Black and White, Erickson Aircraft Collection, Flying Fortress, history, landmark, Lightroom, Madras Maiden, Nik, Nik Software, Oregon, photo, photograph, photography, Photoshop, plane, Post processing, Silver Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro2
On April 24, 2015, Erickson Aircraft Collection performed engine tests on Madras Maiden, their B-17G Flying Fortress, for the first time since some maintenance work. There was some talk of flying that day also, but it didn’t happen for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons was the weather kind of sucked.
I went over to photograph the day’s events and was a bit frustrated by the weather, but came up with some stuff I like pretty well.
I used too basic methods for accomplishing this in these less than ideal weather conditions. The number one challenge was preventing getting a washed out sky combined with a too dark airplane. Method number one for dealing with this was to shoot carefully making sure that the sky retained detail. This was followed by processing in Lightroom to make the most out of the dynamic range. This included bringing the highlights down and the shadows up along with judicious use of the clarity slider. Graduated filters applied to the sky were also sometimes used.
The other thing I did, that gave me results I preferred, was to use alternative “retro” processing. On some of the images I applied presets in Nik’s Analog Efex Pro2. On my favorites however, I went in to Silver Efex Pro2. There I started with the High Structure: Harsh preset. I then let the sky go very light and optimized contrast. I was shooting for an almost etching look. I finished it off with a little sepia toning.
aircraft, airplane, automobile, aviation, Bell, Cord, history, Huey, Iroquois, Oregon, photo, photograph, photography, plane, Sentinel, Stinson, Travel Air, WAAAM, warbird, Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum
May 9, 2015 was military vehicle day at WAAAM and it was one fantastic Second Saturday. To begin with, it was the most fabulous weather yet for a Second Saturday this year. It got a bit warm for someone who is a real wimp about dealing with heat like me, but overall it was incredible.
There was also a ton going on, hard to decide what was the most impressive. As one could predict by the theme of the day, the museum got out their Jeeps and their M3A1 Scout Car as well as many of their L birds. Then, some other aircraft were flown in by other people. A Stinson L-5 Sentinel arrived. Drawing the biggest excitement from the crowd was the arrival of a Bell UH-1 Iroquois, more commonly known as a “Huey.” This helicopter was done up in AirCav markings of the Vietnam era and was very impressive.
There was also a pilot present selling biplane rides and I spent a great deal of time photographing his Travel Air 4000. It was in a very attractive blue with red wings paint scheme and was doing a lot of flying, so of course made a great subject.
Now to tell you a bit about my favorite part of the day; it was a bit off topic for the day. However, it involved one of my favorite artifacts at the museum.
I had only been around a little while and had only taken a few images. I was busy preparing my customary social media post, letting my fans know what I’m working on that day when one of the regular volunteers asked me to help move a car. I’m a member and a volunteer, at the museum, so this request wasn’t particularly unusual. However, this car was the 1936 Cord Model 810 Westchester Sedan, and it was being moved out to take part in the day’s events. I was thrilled that one of my favorite cars at the museum was coming out into the sun to play. It was a bit difficult to get out of there, being that it was placed in a tight spot between a structural beam and the 1928 Waco ATO, but we managed to get it out of there.
Unfortunately, I can’t volunteer as much as I’d like at WAAAM, due to being two hours away. Mostly, I’ve helped them recover artifacts that have been located closer to home here in Keizer. It’s always been a fun time though.