For today’s blog I wanted to show you all the fun I had at the Veterans’ Day Second Saturday at WAAAM. Very lovely time. Take a look at my WAAAM images, (not from this Saturday, they are still being edited.)
I forgot to mention in the video, that for a preset like this, choose the settings that you would normally use for a portrait. Then in the split toning, choose an orange color with saturation around 10 for the highlight. Then choose some sort of teal color with a saturation around 10 on the shadow. Didn’t plan on doing this sort of vlog, had something very different in mind, but sickness prevented that.
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.
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.
Balancing flash with ambient light is quickly becoming one of the short list of skills that most define me in my own mind. This article I’ll discuss more the creative decisions than the technical.
The method I usually use, unless time makes this impossible is to manually set an ambient exposure that gives the look I want. At this time I need to make the main creative choice; do I want the flashed subject to be brighter than the overall image, or use the flash as fill. If I want the flashed subject to be brighter, than I set the overall exposure to be a little dark, possibly as much as a stop. If I’m using the flash as fill, then I set a normal looking overall exposure.
Then you set the flash. If I’m using on camera speedlights, I use the E-ttl method. If I’m using off-camera then I set it manually. I am considering upgrading to Profoto Off Camera Flash system, if I do that I’ll use the method where you set the initial flash power with ttl and then tweak it to give the effect you want.
Finally, one has to consider the flash modifier used. I usually use something that softens the flash, softbox or beauty dish, but you need to look at the ambient and consider how you want it blend.
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.
I have no idea why, but I always get some relief from any mental anguish from converting an image to black and white. There is something about eliminating the color from an image and creating drama through tonal contrast and separation that soothes my mind.
The secret to a compelling monochrome image is usually contrast. In monochrome, there are two ways to create contrast; there is contrast the same as in the image before you make the conversion and then there is separating tone based on color by using color filtration in the editing software. The second method, is always foremost on my mind when I shoot for b&W, which I rarely do. My method usually means that I sort through my existing images looking for one that will look dramatic after allowing for the color filtration etc.
For the process, I use Silver Efex Pro2, now available for free from Google. It is easy and powerful. I’ve tried to get similar results just as a test in Lightroom, and it takes a lot of work, but honestly can be done. Silver Efex Pro2 comes with such a great variety of presets that it is usually a matter of choosing a preset and then making tweaks. I rarely go with the preset alone; doesn’t provide the exact look I want, and deprives me of some of my therapy.
My most used preset these days is the High Structure (smooth). I usually apply a yellow or orange filter to it, red is usually too contrasty. In most pics, yellow, orange, red filters provide increasing contrast as you move through the list. This is dependent on the color makeup of the image however and sometimes blue or green are the appropriate choice. One thing to watch for is that due to some characteristic of digital images that I don’t understand, blue usually will make noise more visible.
If you want a closer look at these images look at this gallery.