The Second Saturday at WAAAM this month was unique and a lot of fun. The theme was vintage glider and a few of the gliders at the museum flew for the first time.
The glider I photographed the most was a 1935 Franklin Glider PS-2. This aircraft was painted in all yellow US Navy colors and looked absolutely amazing against a blue sky. A 1951 GRUNAU BABY IIB also flew while I was photographing and a Waco primary trainer glider flew for the first time before I was able to get to the museum.
Photographing gliders is a little different than photographing other planes. They don’t move fast like jets, but don’t have propellers (well, except for the modern powered ones) that need to be taken into consideration while photographing. This means you can set your f/stop to provide a little separation with the background and use a faster shutter speed. Added benefit, it provides more margin for error in your panning. The best thing though, gliding really is beautiful.
There is some pretty major construction at WAAAM currently; expansions to a couple of their hangars. The museum has done a fantastic job of planning the Second Saturday activities so that they still deliver a similar experience. The back lawn did look interesting, probably will transform into recognizable hangar space fairly quickly. On this day though, it sorta looked like a moonscape with rectangular craters.
Make plans to attend a Second Saturday, whenever you get the chance.
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.
March 12, 2016, was Second Saturday at WAAAM. My expectation was that the weather would be very bad with lots of wind and rain, essentially stranding us inside. I still wanted to go, because one of the main things going on was a speech about the restoration of the Stearman 70, the prototype of the famous line of Stearman trainers of WWII. I have written a Resurrection Report piece for Warbird Digest that should appear in the May/June issue. Thus, I was very interested in going, even if the weather kept anything else from happening.
Most of the drive, the weather was very ominous, and it seemed like the my expectation was accurate. However, the last ten minutes of the drive or so, it seemed quite promising much to my surprise.
As a photographer, most of the interesting stuff happens outside. At this point, I think I pretty much have most of the interesting pics I can get inside, at least without bringing a lighting kit, etc. So I headed outside fairly early and hung around watching volunteers prepare cars for the day. At one point I moved inside for a bit, probably to check my phone and see if anything significant was going on in the outside world. When I stepped back out, the Waco 9 was sitting outside the restoration hangar and it appeared they were preparing for a engine test.
This is when it became apparent that this was going to be a fantastic Second Saturday. The Curtiss OX-5 sprung right to life on the first prop pull. I spent most of the day around the activity around the Waco, only leaving to eat and the speech about the Stearman. I am a Waco addict and this promises to be the oldest Waco when it flies.
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.
The August 8, 2015 Second Saturday at WAAAM focused on motorcycles and snowmobiles. I felt this was the perfect time to work on my panning skills. So, I set my shutter speed slow, took a seat, and started panning with the motorcycles and cars.
Overall, I was very pleased with the results. My percentage of good images started to improve almost immediately. One thing that you must be prepared for is that if you are fairly close to your subject, only part of it will be sharp even if you are panning well. That’s because the relative movement of the subject to your camera is not constant for the entire object; for example the front wheel of the motorcycle may be moving faster relative to your camera position than the rider. Thus, if you are close, you need to pick what you consider to be the most important part of the image and keep that part in the same place in the viewfinder as you follow the subject. I am actually finding this to be the hardest part of panning.
The practice of this day seemed to pay off. The arrival of the Waco UIC at WAAAM after this Second Saturday seems to confirm this. I was able to pan with the aircraft with better results than I have in the past. Of course, the pilot also made a pass before landing specifically for the few of us who wanted to photograph the plane and a pass specifically for photographers also seems to improve the situation.
There was more of interest going on that day than just the motorcycles. WAAAM began a program to give volunteers with lots of hours flights. (I need to volunteer more, and even more importantly, remember to fill out a time sheet when I do.) This provided many opportunities to see some of WAAAM’s aircraft in operation. They fly most Second Saturdays, but this program seemed to increase the number of flights.
Also of interest that day, the Monocoach stopped by on its way to its new home in Oregon. This is a very cool plane made by the folks who made the Monocoupe. As the name implies, it is a similar aircraft, but larger. It was a real joy to see and photograph this aircraft.
Take a closer look at my images from the August 2015 Second Saturday.
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.
aircraft, airplane, automobile, aviation, aviatrix, car, Dodge, Dodge Brothers, history, Melba Beard, Oregon, photo, photograph, photography, plane, WAAAM, Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum
April 11, 2015 was an unusual Second Saturday at Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. The weather was unusually bad for one of these events. WAAAM usually has freaky good luck with the weather for their Second Saturday events, but this time there were heavy showers rolling through all day long, and while there were periods of sun, there were also some fairly heavy showers. Despite all this, it was a blast.
The April 2015 event was themed Dodge Brothers. Yes this is the company that has led to the Dodge brand of cars we all know. There were materials around the museum about the history of Dodge Brothers. Also local Dodge owners brought in their cars to show alongside the museum’s many examples.
Probably what excited me most about the event, however, was they flew a 1929 Brunner Winkle Bird A that was owned earlier by Melba Beard, for the first time after its inspection. Melba was an early aviatrix, who won some air races, ran some aviation business, and was one of the charter members of the 99s. The 99s is the famous organization of women pilots, founded by a group of women in the late 20s including Amelia Earhart, the first president.
I am working on a project to produce a story on this plane and Melba, so I was quite excited to photograph this flight.