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.
The weekend of September 12 was the annual Hood River Fly-In at WAAAM, which is always a fantastic time. This year the theme was “Year of the Waco,” so I was a bit more excited than usual. What avgeek isn’t fanatical about a good old Waco biplane?
I was very busy around that time, working two different projects which meant early mornings and late evenings. Thus, when Saturday rolled around, the day I devoted to the fly-in, I was very tired. Also, I think I may have been fighting a virus, but I’m not sure. Finally, it was hot that day. This all meant that I had to take frequent water breaks in the shade and rest. So I wasn’t able to take as many photos as I’d have liked.
Still it was a fantastic time. I reconnected with old friends, met some new ones. Plus there were a lot of cool planes to look at. The turnout was huge this year, over 300 airplanes. There were two Waco cabins around, plus an assortment of other Wacos, in addition to the usual assortment of great planes.
Can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next year, come by and take a look.
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.
Photography at times can be a rough pursuit, so it can be important to think about why you do it. So today, I list three of the reasons most important to me.
The most obvious, probably painfully so, is that it is fun. Let’s face it, fun is always a huge motivational factor.
To communicate ideas or facts to others. This is one of my favorite images from my nature photography days, where I was photographing prescribed burns at William L. Finley NWR to communicate the importance of fire in Oak Savanna conservation.
Probably the absolutely coolest part of photography to me is that I have seen things that I probably would have never seen any other way.
To create a specific look. This is where I like to be, it is always best when you are doing things like light the image, to achieve the look you want, not fix a problem. Here I used the look I’ve discussed before on RAB Pad.
To fill in shadows. Sometimes the light is largely what you want from the sun, but there is part of the image that is just too dark without adding something. When controlling the light for this purpose, it is important to choose carefully between reflectors and flash. In this image I used a silver and gold striped reflector to fill the shadows in an unobtrusive manner and add a hint of warmth.
Sometimes it’s just plain dark. Sometimes, it is just too dark to get an image without a little something. I usually try to find a way to balance in some ambient light for a more natural look, but sometimes, it’s a choice between flash or using an ISO that is just too high for your intended purpose. This image was made with a small portable flash diffuser on the camera mounted flash and allowing as much ambient light in as possible.
On July 11, I went to the 2015 WAAAM Traffic jam. This is a two day car show at WAAAM. However, day one is largely for the participants and there is not as much for the public to do as on Saturday. Saturday however, is pretty awesome.
This year was particularly nice for me. It was an unusually cool day for this summer. As warm blooded as I am that was very nice. It was also usually overcast light, but the clouds were broken enough to make for interesting skies. This was fantastic photographically. The only down side was that it was a bit windy; windy enough that WAAAM didn’t do any flying like they normally do and the plane they pushed out had to be tied down very securely. I also had a few things blow out of my camera bag that I had to chase down.
As far as what was on display, it was really cool as I saw several old cars that I had never seen in person before, but knew about from the History Channel’s Counting Cars. Most notable among these was a ’55 Oldsmobile 88 and a ’57 Buick Roadmaster and I spent a great deal of my photography time on these two cars.
Another thing I do a lot of at these shows is creatively lit close-ups. Getting classic car portraits at car shows is difficult, because there are so many other cars around. This makes it a perfect time to experiment with these close-ups. A different shot I discovered can work well at this show was the stand directly in front of the car and look down shot, like I did with the Union Jack XKE.
A couple of events happened in the days leading up to the 2015 Oregon International Airshow, that were unusual and impacted my experience of the event. Most importantly, my friend Joe Wilson, contacted me and asked if I wanted a free ticket that his wife had won on a radio contest. Being that I wasn’t going to go due to finances, this was obviously a huge event, as it allowed me to experience the Airshow in the first place. THANK YOU JOE!
The other interesting event leading up to the airshow was another friend of mine, Lyle Jansma, posted a video of him riding in the back of a P-51 Mustang piloted by Greg Anders when two F-16s joined up on their right wing. I figured they were on their way to Hillsboro, but was kind of surprised they were bringing Heritage Flight Museum’s P-51. During the airshow it all became clear what was going on there when Greg Anders led the USAF Heritage Flight in Val Halla.
I particularly wanted to go as I hadn’t seen the Blue Angels in many years, and wanted to make a specific image of them ever since I got really serious into photography. In the event of the airshow, the Blue Angels were incredible, but there were many other acts that I also great appreciated. Probably foremost among these, due to the demonstration itself, as well as never seeing anything like it, was the Bremerton Horsemen’s F-86 Saber demonstration. This got altered a great deal due to mechanical difficulties, but was still very impressive.
The downside of the event was dang it was hot. We could take water in, but between everyone in our group, we bought a lot. I drank it about as fast I felt comfortable drinking. I mean, I need to take photos too, not just drink water. Still, by the end of the day, I felt like I was about to pass out due to dehydration and heat stress. I was quite relieved when I made it to the car and even more so when I could make it to Burgerville for a freshly made Marionberry shake.
Sorry I’ve been gone for a bit, some unexpected things came up just at the time I normally write my blog posts.
Several years ago, I photographed in the early morning at St. John’s Bridge in Portland and was blown away by its beauty; my favorite bridge in the Portland area, perhaps Oregon. One event that happened while I was there that unexpectedly made for some great photos, was a kayaker came paddling under the bridge. Since then, I had been trying to arrange for someone I know to do this in a situation where I could have the image fully released.
This turned out to be quite a bit more difficult than predicted. Sourcing a boat and finding someone willing and comfortable with what was required was quite challenging.
Well, fast forward several years later and I was in Portland photographing the skyline during blue hour and I ran into a photography student and she came up to me and started asking for some tips. (Can’t remember if I told her how challenging the business side is.) We exchanged cards and we both went on our merry way.
A week or two later, she calls me and tells me she has an extra credit project she needs to do, and asks if I could help. She says the idea she has is to photograph a friend of hers in her wedding dress, with some wild red boots, and we would be a bit reckless with the dress. So, we agreed to meet in the exact same location. The shoot was a bunch of fun.
I have since pretty much lost contact with the student, but the model has become a Facebook friend. Somehow, I had a feeling, she had some experience with paddling. Thus, one time when we were discussing shooting and saying we should do something like that again I brought up the kayak and St. John’s Bridge idea. Unfortunately, Oregon is experiencing a bit of a toxic algae problem right now, so we nixed the actual paddling part of the shoot, but still decided to shoot the portrait part of what I had in mind.
The kernel of the plan was to shoot the hero type shot that I’ve discussed here earlier. The one thing that’s changed is I am now doing the post processing with a little more nuance, having become well aware that high clarity doesn’t look so great with out of focus parts of an image. The other item though was that I wanted to really make the most out of this opportunity, since it took me so long to find it. So, I tried to come up with the widest range of images I could think of in the scenario we had placed ourselves. I am happy how that turned out.
I would like to thank Alex for her help with this.
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.
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.