…morning light is magic…

Airshow

Memorial Day Tribute

In honor of Veterans giving the ultimate sacrifice on this Memorial Day, F-18 nearing the speed of sound at 2007 Wings Over Houston airshow. It was fun to go back in time and reprocess this photo using some gained skill and software since then. Went with B&W to better show off the vapor cloud.

Canon 30D and 100-400 lens @ 100mm


Veterans Day Salute

This post is dedicated to all veterans past and present.  Thank you for your sacrifices.

These are photos of the Blue Angels from 2018 Wings Over Houston airshow on Sunday Oct 21.

Taken with Canon 1DX with Canon 100-400 II lens, handheld

1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, aperture priority

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1/2000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, aperture priority 

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1/2500 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, aperture priority 

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1/2500 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, aperture priority 

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1/2000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, aperture priority 

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1/2500 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, aperture priority 

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1/3200 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, aperture priority, converted to B&W using NIK Silver Effects Pro

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1/2500 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, aperture priority

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F18 Vapor at Wings Over Houston 2017

Made it to Wings Over Houston special show again this year and took photos from outside the gates with my 100-400 lens.  Got in a good spot across the road from the runway and got the F-18 coming in for a high-speed pass almost right over me (first two photos).  He came back for another pass and banked left and caught some great vapor on his wings.   Lots of fun trying to track him when he was flying around 600 mph.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 100-400 II with 1.4X III teleconverter, handheld

1/3200 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation

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1/2500 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation

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1/4000 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation

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F-22 Raptor

Got a chance to see the F-22 Raptor again for the 6th time at the Battle Creek, MI airshow over the 4th of July weekend.  It’s an amazing plane that never ceases to amaze me with its maneuvering capabilities.

While planning a trip home to visit family this summer, just happened to look up the F-22 schedule and saw it was going to be in Michigan fairly close to home.  Took my two brothers with me and they enjoyed the show as well.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 100-400 II with 1.4X III telconverter, handheld

1/1000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation, 368 mm

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1/2000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 1 1/3 exposure compensation, 560mm

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1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation, 560mm

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1/1250 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation, 318mm

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F-35 Stealth Fighter Over the Moon

It was a very busy weekend with my trigger finger needing some well deserved rest.  Between two days at Wings Over Houston air show and going to Bolivar Flats for the first time in several months, ended up taking over 11,000 photos over the last three days.

Friday started out with Doug, David and I taking photos of the abbreviated special show for Wings Over Houston.  The Blue Angels were back in Houston to show off their precision flying skills.  A first for Houston was the new F-35 Lightening stealth fighter, which was on static display and participated in the heritage flight with a P-47 Thunderbolt and a F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The moon was still out on Friday morning, which made for a cool back drop for this photo of the F-35 and the P-47.  Converted it to B&W to help bring out the detail in the moon.  When the F-35 took off, it looked like a F-22 Raptor from a distance.  Can’t wait to see it perform during an airshow.

Went inside the gates on Saturday to get some close-up shots of the F-35 and the usual array of aircraft on static display and when they performed.  More air show posts to come as there were too many photos to go through after a most excellent weekend of photography.

I’ll also be posting some shorebird photos from Bolivar with the action being off of the charts.  It’s prime time for Bolivar and I’ll be a frequent visitor there this fall/winter.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II, handheld at 500mm

1/2000 sec @ F 6.3, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Shoot the Moon

On the last day of the Wings Over Houston airshow, hung out with Doug on the north end of the runway.  Thanks Doug.  Got some good close-up photos that I’ll post later.  The moon was out and we tried to get photos of the planes flying near the moon.  Didn’t realize that I had captured this photo until I got home.  It’s a WWII Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter, handheld

Shutter priority, 1/250 sec @ F22, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Wings Over Houston in B&W

During the Wings Over Houston airshow, they have a Tora Tora Tora portion that simulates the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I arrive at the show when it opens to get a seat along the fence line so that I can have an unobstructed view of the action.  They blow up bags of gasoline to simulate the bombs, which can make for some cool photos.

My goal during this part of the airshow is to capture the action with more than just the planes flying by.  I’ve got tons of plane photos but like to get some of the smoke in the shot and other planes in the background to enhance the interest/story in the photos.  Use shutter priority to blur the propellers with 1/320 for the Zero’s and 1/250 sec for the rest of the planes.

Here are some of my favorites from last Saturday, converter to B&W with NIK Silver Efex Pro 2.  Gave me the opportunity to break out my new 100-400 II lens and it worked very well.

All were taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 100-400 II lens, hand-held.

Shutter Priority, 1/320 sec @ F22, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Shutter Priority, 1/250 sec @ F11, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Shutter Priority, 1/320 sec @ F25, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Shutter Priority, 1/250 sec @ F25, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Wings Over Houston 2015 Airshow – Friday’s Practice

Friday at Wings Over Houston is a two-hour show for special needs kids and the opportunity for the pilots to practice for the main shows on Sat/Sun.  It’s not open to the general public so I found a spot along Hwy 3 at the end of the runway to get some close-up photos.

This was the first time in a few years that the F-18 was back at WOH and it’s always my goal to get a photo of the vapor cloud when they approach the speed of sound, around 600 mph.  A cold front coming through this weekend reduced the humidity in the air so Friday was going to be the best chance to get that shot.   Caught him starting to form the vapor cloud as he flew over me and it fully formed as he got over the runway.  A head-on shot would have been better but I’ll take it.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter, hand-held

Aperture priority, 1/3200 sec @ F5.6, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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They have one original Japanese Zero flying at the show, with the rest being replicas from the movie Tora Tora Tora.  Being at the end of the runway allows for this shot as he banks around back toward the field.  Converted this one to B&W as the colors were muted anyway.  Used shutter priority to slow down the shutter speed to get the prop to blur.  The Zero prop’s spin faster than the P51 Mustangs so I usually use 1/320 for the Zero’s and 1/250 for the rest of the prop planes.

Shutter priority, 1/320 sec @ F14, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Only 3 of the Thunderbirds flew at the show around noon, which was a surprise.  Minimal cropping on the first two shots with none on the last one.

Aperture priority, 1/6400 sec @ F5.6, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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Aperture priority, 1/6400 sec @ F5.6, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Aperture priority, 1/3200 sec @ F5.6, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Memorial Day Tribute

In tribute to all that have served, here are some Blue Angels photos from the 2014 Wings Over Houston airshow.  The moon was out which made for a cool background.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 100-400 lens, handheld

1/2000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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1/2000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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1/2000 sec @ F7.1, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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1/2000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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1/3200 sec @ F7.1, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Flags of our Fathers

Flags can make some interesting photo op’s at airshows.  This year at Wings Over Houston, this B17 Flying Fortress attracted my eye with the Texas and US flags waving in the wind as the sun was coming up.  In the first photo, the US flag is directly behind the turret, along with the sun.  In the second shot, the US flag is reflecting in the turret.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 100-400mm lens, handheld

1/320 sec @ F14, ISO 100, evaluative metering

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1/2000 sec @ F11, ISO 1600, evaluative metering

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Blue Angels at Wings Over Houston

Spent two full days last weekend taking photos at the Wings Over Houston airshow.  It was great weather, which brought out record crowds as they sold out the show on Sunday.  Got to hang out with Christine and her father on Saturday, who is a former A4 pilot.  The Blue Angels were awesome as always.  With bright blue sky’s,  blue jets and harsh sunlight, decided to try B&W for something different, which helped to bring out the details in the smoke trails with the higher contrast.  Took lots of photos so more to come.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 100-400 lens, handheld

1/1250sec @ F10, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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1/1000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Jet Car

Got a front row seat along the fence for Wings Over Houston on Sat.  Got up close and personal with the Air National Guard jet car.  A little loud but an interesting photo op.

Taken with Canon 7D and 100-400 lens


More from Wings Over Houston

A couple more batches of airshow photos and I’ll be back to birds, I promise.  These shots were taken from the south side of the airfield along hwy 3 on Sunday.  It’s always great to see the F22 Raptor.  Needless to say,  I took a few photos over the 3 days.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II


Where there is Fire, there is Smoke..

I always get excited when the gas bombs start going off during the Tora Tora Tora portion of the  Wings Over Houston airshow.  Where there is fire, there is smoke, which leads to some interesting photo op’s.  Tracked this Zero as he was heading through the smoke and was barely visible.  When adjusting the color using curves in Photoshop, tried setting the black point even though nothing was showing black.  It darkened the scene dramatically and led to this photo.

Taken with Canon 7D and 100-400 lens, hand-held

Shutter priority, 1/320 sec @ F18, ISO 200, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation


Incoming Japanese Zero

Here is my favorite Zero shot from Wings Over Houston airshow on Friday.  Taken from along Hwy 3 near the end of the runway.  I like the straight-on perspective, the tilted wings and that you can see the pilot.  It was a cloudy day but it works for this shot.  This is the only authentic Zero at the show.  The rest are mock-up’s from the movie Tora Tora Tora.   The 500mm lens makes a great airshow lens when you aren’t too close to the action.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II, hand-held

Shutter priority, 1/320 @ F16, ISO 400, +1 exposure compensation

1/1000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 400,


Blue Angels Turn and Burn at Wings Over Houston

The Blue Angles put on another great show at the Wings Over Houston airshow this year.  Spent the afternoon on Friday along Hwy 3 near the end of the runway.  Hand held my 500mm lens for about 3 hours, which was a good work out.  The biggest challenge was keeping it steady with the high winds.  I like the different angles that you can get from this location.  Spent Saturday along the flight line near show center but just got the typical airshow shots.  Here are some of my favorite Blue Angels shots from Friday.  Most of these are full frame with very little cropping.   It was time to turn and burn…

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens, handheld

Shutter priority, 1/320 sec @ F14, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

Aperture priority, 1/2000 sec @ F4.5, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F5.6, ISO 400, evaluative metering

Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F5.6, ISO 400, evaluative metering


Space Shuttle Endeavor Taking off from Ellington Field

Got a front row seat for the final lift off of Space Shuttle Endeavor from Houston’s Ellington Field.  Parked along hwy 3 at the end of the runway along with several hundred of my friends before sunrise and stood on the railroad tracks just outside the fence line.  The first plane to launch was a commercial jet that took off to the east, in the opposite direction from where I was standing.  Was a little worried that the shuttle would take off in that direction as well until a NASA jet took off towards me.  On que, the 747 with Endeavor attached took off at 7:00 a.m.,  a little before sunrise.  It was very cool to see, to say the least, including feeling the heat off of the 747’s engines.

Since it wasn’t fully light out yet, had to crank up the ISO to 1600 to get enough shutter speed.  Was hoping that it would make a fly-by but alas it didn’t.  It turned south and circled but went well north of Ellington, heading for downtown Houston.

Good bye Endeavor…you should have stayed 😦

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 100-400 lens, handheld.


Wings Over Houston Airshow 2011 – part II

Here are a few more shots from the Wings Over Houston airshow this year.  Took a ton of shots, as always, and it has taken me a while to go through them all.  I’ll put some descriptions on them later.


Wings Over Houston Airshow

It’s October which means it’s almost time for the Wings Over Houston airshow, which is my favorite weekend of the year.  Dug these photos out of the archives from last year to get me in the mood for another airshow.  I’m bummed this year that the F22 Raptor won’t be flying as originally planned but they do need to concentrate on getting it flying again safely after the stand down.

Last year was a good time with the Thunderbirds back again.  I spend Friday afternoon at the end of the runway and all day Sat/Sun at the airshow.  Long days but a very good time.  Here are some tips for the airshow based on my experience.

Logistics:  I like to get there early when they open to get a spot along the fence for clear access to shots of the Tora Tora Tora explosions.  I usually take the park and ride bus from Bay Area Blvd.  They start running at 7:30 a.m.  It gets you there when they open the gates at 8:00 a.m. and gets you back to the lot after the show, bypassing some of the traffic without you having to worry about parking.  Recommend taking a folding chair to set up along the fence when you first get there to save your spot and then walk around the area to get some early morning light shots of the static displays.  Just remember to put your name on your chair to make sure that you can find it again, speaking from experience.  The gates open at 8:00 a.m. and they start flying around 10:00 a.m. with the main act around 3:00 p.m.  They have plenty of food booths around for feasting during the show.

Camera Equipment:  I typically just take my camera and 100-400 lens without a camera bag.  They won’t let you in with a large bag but I’ve seen people with camera backpacks get in without any problem.  I just like to travel light and don’t want to worry about keeping track of a large bag.  I use as small Think Tank pouch on my belt to hold a spare battery, memory cards, sunscreen and a poncho if it looks like rain.  Make sure that you take plenty of memory cards as it’s easy to take tons of shots.  Don’t bother with taking a tripod, which isn’t practical to use at an airshow.

Camera settings:  When shooting the planes going by, just consider them large birds and use some of the same techniques as birds in flight.  For jets, use a fast shutter speed to freeze the action and crank up the exposure compensation to get a good exposure against the bright sky.  I usually use aperture priority with the aperture wide open and +2/3 to +1 exposure compensation.  Check the histogram after the first pass and adjust the exp. compensation to get the correct exposure.  For WWII prop planes, I use shutter priority to use a slow shutter speed down to blur the props.  The zero’s have a faster prop speed than most of the rest of the warbirds.  I typically start with 1/320 sec for most of the prop planes and speed it up a little to 1/400 sec. for zero’s.  Helicopters require much slower shutter speeds to blur the blades.

The shot to try to get is the F-18 high-speed pass when it gets very close to the sound barrier.  If there is enough moisture in the air you can get a shot of the vapor cone that forms around the aircraft.  The air was too dry last year so no luck with the cone but I’ll be trying again this year.  It’s a challenge to judge the timing to catch the cone but try to maintain focus on the plane as he is coming towards you and then start shooting when he gets to the right of show center.  Just don’t miss it as you will have only one chance.  Good luck.

Here is a link to the airshow website.  http://www.wingsoverhouston.com/

F-16 Thunderbird taken near the end of the runway along Hwy 3

F4U Corsair doing a fly over at the end of the runway

Another end of the runway shot on Friday of an A-10 Warthog

Photo of a Japanese Zero with a B-17 in the background.

Action shot during the Tora Tora Tora exhibition.

B-17 flying fortress

B-24 bomber, if memory serves me correctly

Thunderbirds in action

Early morning light on cockpit.

Zero being chased.

Chopper at sunrise.


San Antonio Airshow

Along with wildlife, my other passion is airshows.  Here are a few shots from last year’s San Antonio Airshow.  Got my 100-400 lens for airshows and learned that is works well for birds too.  Guess that I like flying things of all types.  I’ve been making the drive to San Antonio for a few years now, especially since they have had the F-22 while Houston is still waiting for it to show up.  The F-22 is an awesome plane to watch and photograph.  Can’t wait to go back this year.