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.
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.
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.
Pemberton and Sons own and operate the oldest flying Boeing aircraft in the world, a beautiful Boeing 40C. This plane is stored in the off season at WAAAM. When airshow season rolls around, they fly down from their home in Spokane and begin the 40 on its tour of the Northwest for the summer.
I had gotten word that they were coming down to pick up the plane on 6-12-15. I got there around 8:00 am and made stock images of the flag for a while and then went in and had coffee with some friends. I learned then that they would probably show up in the early afternoon.
Thus, I began to leisurely enjoy the museum. Eventually, I got word from the restoration crew that they wanted me to come over and photograph them hanging the wings on the Rearwin Speedster, an aircraft that we discussed I need to document and do what I can to get a story published. So I went over there and photographed restoration.
At one point, we heard the low rumble of a radial engine and one of the guys on the crew said “sounds like the Waco.” I thought the WAAAM planes wouldn’t be flying until Saturday, so I was a bit confused. I had to stick my head out the hangar door to see what was up. When I saw Pemberton’s Waco EQC-6 taxiing our way, I was ecstatic. I’ve wanted to see a Waco cabin biplane for many years and now one was taxiing right to me.
Then there was all the usual excitement of the Boeing 40’s flight, so all in all it was one helluva day!
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.
Recently, I completed a model shoot at WAAAM with some of the old biplanes there. The route to this shoot was nebulous and the original point of the shoot got lost a little bit, but we made something great out of it. I believe WAAAM will get a great photo to hang in the lobby out of this and I certainly got some nice new additions to my portfolio.
I’ll begin my narrative with the human side of the story, as the shoot was an incredible experience, and this part of the story isn’t necessarily evident in the story.
I have been working with Ken Olsson with various things at WAAAM for several years. Initially, we met when I was writing a story about aviation museums in Oregon. I’ve always enjoyed talking with Ken, he’s friendly, and we’ve always had plenty to talk about. I met Carrie Strahle, of Carrie Strahle Makeup Artistry, at an ASMP event, and exchanged business cards with her. She is the kind of person that instantly strikes you as a friend, despite the brief encounter. In discussions with Carrie later, she suggested Sami Van Der Westhuizen might be able to help me with a project that I was beginning to think about at that time. Thus I contacted Sami on FB.
So when I came up with the idea for this project. I started by having a meeting with Ken and Judy at WAAAM and discussed this as well as a few other ideas. I did not want to move ahead with other elements of the project without making sure it was ok with them; although, I had discussed the idea with Carrie in friendly conversation and got her ideas on whether the logistics of this could be worked out or not. After getting approval from WAAAM, for a slightly different idea than what you see before you, I put out a casting call on FB. When someone suggested Sami, I wasn’t aware she met the height requirements we had at that point, I thought perfect. I asked Sami if she would be interested. Next step was to ask Carrie if she would be willing to do the project.
Finally, the day came. The photographic crew met at Joe Wilson’s studio, Joe is the membership chair at the local chapter of the ASMP. Sami was the only person involved I had not met in person. She came in with her boyfriend and I must say, they are some of the nicest people you’ll meet. So, with one of the friendliest, fun crews around, we got to work.
In summation, the shoot was a blast, in addition to producing some great imagery. I was able to make contact with existing friends again and make some new ones. On the professional side of things, Sami was amazing, what I noticed immediately was her ability to help me aim the lights shaving minutes off setup when I changed the lighting. Carrie’s work was fantastic; I especially loved the curls she gave Sami for the shoot.
One thing I learned about myself that had to do with the human side of the shoot, is I do get in a bit of “a zone” when I photograph. During most of the shoot, I got in this zone where I was only aware of Sami, myself and the plane. I came out of it occasionally to share what images we were getting. I was not aware of what others were doing around me on set. It really struck home for me when I started retouching images and I would notice a frame or two when a strand of hair on Sami would fall out of place and then suddenly, the next frame, it’d be all perfect again. From this it was apparent that Carrie was stepping in to touch up. Looking at the bts images my assistant (dad) made, it was more apparent; Carrie doing touch ups, everyone very attentive to what was happening, confirming what I had earlier suspected about me falling into “the zone.”
If you are a photographer needing a model and makeup artist, I recommend putting Sami and Carrie at the top of your list of possibilities. They do excellent work and will certainly help keep your set a fun place to be.
Now to move on to a technical thing, I wanted to explain how I made the above image.
It was inspired by a promotional video on the Profoto web site. I started by setting my ambient exposure such that everything would fade to black. Setting ISO 100, 1/160th of a second and f/16 ensures that happens really quickly under the indoor setting. I setup one light in a strip bank, as close as possible to directly above the Jenny. It was slightly in front of the plane and then tilted at a slight angle to make sure the light shone far enough back on the plane. Then, I lit Sami with a very large octabox placed 45° to her front and 45° above, essentially Rembrandt light. The octa was also aimed across her, feathering the light onto her face. This was primarily done to prevent spill on the background, but also makes the light softer on her.
Post processing on this image was really simple. Basically, it comes down to I applied Tonal Contrast from Nik’s Color Efex Pro4 on the plane and Sami’s clothes.
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.