Posts Tagged ‘Aerobatics’

Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Wings has left me with an entirely unanticipated dilemma based on a very surprisingly realization. Until I saw Ese’s challenge and thought about it for a bit, I hadn’t realized that classifying my photos might well begin with the approximately evenly split categories “things with wings” and “everything else.” I have thousands of photos of things with wings in nature ranging from bees and wasps to butterflies and dragonflies to hummingbirds and cardinals to blue jays and bald eagles. In the wings found on machines  I have photographed hundreds of winged aircraft including the very small and slow ultralights, the tiny light sport aircraft, the very big Lockheed C-5 Galaxy and the very fast F-16 jet aircraft and things in between. How to choose?

Of course I have treated my dilemma with the solemnity it deserved and offer the following powerful message and accompanying photo to demonstrate the angst I have suffered  whilst considering this challenge.

When Donald Duck traded his wings for arms, was he trading up or trading down? ~ Douglas Coupland






Air Ballet v2

“Artists, whatever their medium, make selections from the abounding materials of life, and organize these selections into works that are under the control of the artist…. In relation to the inclusiveness and literally endless intricacy of life, art is arbitrary, symbolic and abstracted. That is its value and the source of its own kind of order and coherence.” ~ Jane Jacobs

“[C]omplex aerobatic maneuvers are a test of the pilot’s ability to give multiple control inputs while maintaining orientation in unusual attitudes.” ~ Anthony Romano

My contribution to Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Intricate is a photo of an intricate aerobatics maneuver performed by the Royal Canadian Snowbirds at an air show I attended last summer in Minot, North Dakota. This photo is (obviously) digitally enhanced (principally the color of the smoke emitted). Why? Because the original photo couldn’t capture the drama of the actual performance.  I just started experimenting with this photo, which I retouched using Topaz Lab’s ReStyle Photoshop plugin.  I realize this result may be seen as over-the-top by some, but having this many jets flying very fast in a relatively confined space is pretty darned dramatic. Doing this successfully is a tribute to the training and skill of the pilots. Incidentally, the artists referred to in the first quote are the members of the Snowbird’s team (including all support personnel).

Sky Arch

The word for this week’s Word a Week Photo Challenge is Arch, a word that provides ample opportunity for creativity. Arches are typically thought of as those good old curved buttresses that made possible the building of the great cathedrals of Europe as well as structures around the world. Of course arch has other meanings and acts in other contexts. For example one can arch one’s eyebrows or one’s back, one can be an archenemy or an arch-villain. A basketball shot travels in an arch (mine a very inaccurate one). An archer is so named because of the path the arrow traverses to its target. I could go on but to cut to the chase here we have a rather ephemeral but none-the-less worthy arch. This one formed by a stunt pilot during his aerobatics routine.

Truck on the Highway

This was a tough shot to get although it certainly doesn’t look very hard since most of it is blurry and out of focus. Here is the story followed by a wonky discussion that strays off into the uses of “blur” and ends with a two nice photos, one of which is both in focus and excitingly blurry (the wonky stuff is really wonky so I understand if you skip it but at least check out the photos below).

Coming home from our recent trip to North Dakota, I was able to experiment with motion and focus but in an unusual way — I wanted to get a photo that captured the truck’s motion while both I (in a car my wife was driving – thanks Sweetie) and the truck were moving down the highway towards each other. This is as close as I was able to get to what I was “shooting” for – a truck that was at least partially in focus, but also seemed in motion relative to both itself and to me.

Wonky Discussion

I got to thinking about posting my experiment because of this week’s weekly photo challenge, which is about “focus.” Focus was of course one of the primary problems facing me in getting any shot like this. I took this particular shot along a divided highway with a Sigma telephoto lens set at a 210mm focal length. The truck was about 150 feet away. Because I wanted as much depth of field as humanly possible while not freezing the truck’s motion, I had been experimenting with a wide range of aperture and shutter speed settings to find out what would work. The details of this shot: 1/30th sec.; f/18; ISO 400; aperture priority. This gave me a depth of field (or “DOF“) of 121 ft. (beginning at 111 ft. and ending at 232 ft.)  You might wonder about going to f/11. The problem is that it almost halves the DOF (to 70 ft.) while moving the shutter speed to somewhere between 1/60th and 125th of a second. All things being equal, an aperture of f/16 (DOF of 104 ft.) would have been a better choice, but water under the bridge (or perhaps over the highway). Given the relative closing speed between our two vehicles (I am assuming 120 miles per hour), the truck moved through the Circle of Confusion (the space that defines the depth of field) in 5/8th of a second. Since I couldn’t mount a tripod where I was sitting in the car, I had to hand hold the camera. While the Sigma lens has good to very good optical stabilization, my hands are not very steady and that plus the car’s movement introduced more complexity into getting this photo in focus and without unintentional blur.


The other thing I wanted to see as the truck moved into and out of the Circle of Confusion was some blurring representing its motion. Blur is a relative of focus (e.g., when something is intentionally or unintentionally out of focus because an object is outside of the lens’ Circle of Confusion). Blur is often introduced into a photo by camera motion, which typically occurs when a photographer uses a shutter speed that is too slow for the photographer to hold the camera steadily. When blur is intentionally introduced into a photo, the most common reason is to impart a sense of motion to an object in a photo.

When using blur to indicate motion, the photographer is usually in a more or less fixed position and follows the speedy object (from a marathon runner to a Formula One race car intending to either freeze or nearly freeze the runner or car or whatever against a background that blurs. Getting the object in focus while the background is visibly blurred is the key to imparting motion/action to the object. As an example of where you don’t see that background and thus don’t appreciate the motion of an object in a photo, take a photo of a passenger jet in flight. You know that the plane is traveling very rapidly since it is flying, but if the photo of it is against a blue undifferentiated sky (no clouds), for all you really know, the plane could be parked up in the sky motionless. See another example of what I mean here:

Minot Air Show - 1122 - July 04, 2012 (Blue) - 00045

One way to get around this is to show the plane(es) with contrails or artificial smoke, something that is often done at an airshow as shown in the photo below (both photos are of the Canadian Snowbirds, the Royal Air Force’s aerobatic flight performance team).

Minot Air Show - 839 - July 04, 2012-Edit

Finally, blur can be added artificially (here via Filter Forge) to what is otherwise an in focus photograph as shown in the two photos below.

Dad Bibow's Garden - July 24, 2013 - 09-Edit-Edit - Depth of Field - 2  Dad Bibow's Garden - July 24, 2013 - 09-Edit-Edit(Filtr Forge) - Depth of Field - 2

Minot Air Show - 735 - July 04, 2012

I think it is fair to call this loop (performed by an aerobatic (or stunt) pilot at an air show in Minot, North Dakota) a circle, but as always comments are appreciated.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

Minot, North Dakota suffered a devastating flood in June – July 2011. A year later the city had not yet fully recovered but members of the community organized a free air show to lift community spirits. Among the many participants were the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds aerobatics team shown here.