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One thing in common between two of my great loves in life, birding and aviation, is that seeing the rare stuff is always exciting. Well, there is only one IL2 Sturmovik flying in the world, a newly restored IL2M3 at Flying Heritage Collection in Everett, Washington. Thus, I planned to be there to see and photograph the debut from the initial announcement of its existence, almost a year prior to the actual event.

Since I have recently become involved in the International Society of Aviation Photographers and their group on Facebook as well as the Pacific Northwest Aviation Photographers group on Facebook, I intended to try and leverage the accumulated knowledge of these groups to make an attempt to improve my photography of the event. The question that I hoped they could answer was where was the best place to be to photograph the flying. The groups were not at a consensus on this point, but, by what I heard I determined that I would be at the windsock across the field from the museum. I did prefer this spot for the flying, the planes were closer. On the downside, taxiing photographs were essentially impossible due to the distance and heat shimmer off the runway. I also was able to meet other aviation photographers, most notably Jason Fortenbacher, the videographer and editor behind this awesome video about the various flying events at Paine Field.

After shooting at the windsock, I went over to the museum. I wanted to check out any changes since I’d been there last, make some static photographs, and finally I felt that my entrance fee would be sort of a gratuity expressing my appreciation for the event.

The worst part of the photography from the day was the haze from the wildfires in the region. This created white skies behind the aircraft without any detail. I chose to deal with this utilizing the help of some Nik Software plugins; converting images to B&W with Silver Efex Pro2 and Bleach Bypass with Color Efex Pro4. I utilized the controls as best I could to bring out what little detail I could in the sky, but most of all I thought the hazy sky just looked better in these looks.

Take a closer look at my IL2 debut photos.