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2017 Aviation Roundup Airshow - Lots of images!
Lens: D-FA 150-450 Camera: K-1 Photo Location: Minden, NV Shutter Speed: 1/2000s 
Posted By: 6BQ5, 10-08-2017, 05:22 PM

The Minden-Tahoe airport hosted the 2017 Aviation Roundup airshow this weekend, Oct 7 and 8. Not only was this my first airshow but this was my first time photographing airplanes! It was a blast to say the least. I loved the speed and roar of the planes and the atmosphere was fun and family oriented. If you have never been to an airshow then I would highly recommend you make it a goal to attend at least one.

The internet is full of tips and ideas on photographing airshows. I covered the event with my K-1 and the D-FA 150-450mm f/4.5-5.6 lens. Here are my take-aways from the event with lots and lots of fun photos in between.

Bring the largest zoom or telephoto lens you have. Whatever you have will never be too much or too long. I found myself shooting at the maximum 450mm focal length and then cropping afterwards. Those planes will be plenty far from you for the most part. I'm zoomed in at 450mm and I'm cropping heavily here.



I could have easily used a 600mm or 800mm lens here ... assuming I would have been able to heft a thing like that!



Bring a second body with a zoom lens capable of wide angles. This will be good for covering flight paths that leave smoke and cloud streaks. At the longest zoom you can use it for candid shots and portraits. I used my Olympus E-M10 with a 12-35mm lens. Remember, switching cameras is waaaaay faster than switching lenses.

TAv mode with Auto ISO will be your friend. Set your shutter speed to your maximum tolerable for noise. I fixed my shutter speed at 1/2000 and my aperture was set to f/8. ISO floated to whatever it needed to be. It ended up being between 640 and 1600 for me. Planes fly fast and you will want the high shutter speed to help freeze the frame as you pan. You can try slower speeds too if you can track the plane with a heavy zoom lens. Camera shake can be a problem so go for the higher speeds. Except ...

Use slow speeds when propellor planes are taxiing. Slow speeds will blur the propellor and the effect is cool.



Forget the tripod and monopod. You can never guess where the planes will be at every moment. You need to be able to aim your camera in any direction, even straight up, very quickly. A tripod will only get in the way. I think I was pretty close to pointing straight up for this one.



I'm torn on enabling shake reduction. On the one hand, the shutter speed is so high any SR benefits will probably be negated. Besides, there's no way SR could possibly keep up with the amount of panning you probably need to do for tracking the aircraft. At the same time, I think I lost a few shots due to a SR system trying desperately to keep up. Some of my images were focused but obviously softened and blurred. Not out of focus - just smeared. I have a feeling the sensor was disco dancing pretty good inside the K-1 and shuddering like crazy. Keeping SR on is good if you switch from panning to still shots such as when the plane is taxiing. One less thing to remember to turn on!

Here's one that I kind of "lost" to SR. The planes don't look as crisp as they could be.



But here's one where SR didn't hurt.



I will run counter to most advice that says you should slow down and think about your shots. Everything is happening so fast that you barely have time to think. All you can do is react. Your skills and your deficiencies will be on full display and magnified. If you tend to miss shots then you will really miss them here. If you get a lot of keepers and you know what you're doing then you'll probably be just fine.

Trust your gear. I saw a Canon shooter with big ass lens the size of an ICBM. He chimping almost every shot. I don't know what he was looking for. Framing? Exposure? Focus? Whatever ... he missed a ton of potential shots because he was looking at his LCD screen. I understand you may want to check one or two frames as a sanity check but this is not the time to make meticulous adjustments to technique. You'll miss the shot no matter what. Either the moment will pass or the image will be crap. At that point either shoot and hope for the best or just sit back, forget about the camera, and enjoy the show. Sorry, it's tough but its true.

This old guy trusts his old plane with his life. If he trusts his gear then I'll trust mine!



Your Pentax is more than capable of capturing events like this. Don't think to yourself that you need a Canon, a Nikon, or a Sony with crazy wicked burst rates and insanely fast autofocus. Your lens will focused to infinity for the most part so it doesn't need to rock and roll from min to max focus. Just be sure to follow the planes. Track them with your eyes.



The D-FA 150-450mm lens is a very, very good lens. There's plenty of sharpness inside that heavy barrel of glass. It's up to you and your camera body to bring it out. I took a quick glance on the internet for equivalent lenses for other systems. Maybe I was looking in the wrong spot but I couldn't find anything quite like this lens for other systems.



Spray and pray and hope for the best. You will have no control over what the planes will do as they fly over. Just capture what you can and see what you can make out of it afterwards. Do your best to dynamically zoom and recompose. You may end up with a lot of bad shots with some nuggets in between. There's no way I could have anticipated this one.



I didnt use any burst mode. Just press the shutter butter repeatedly. Otherwise the buffer will fill too quickly and you could miss a magical moment.



Don't worry about keeping your camera perfectly level and straight. You may end up being 20-30 degrees crooked. That's OK. Take the shot. Chance are you'll have enough room around the subject to rotate and crop and still have room for the image to breathe. Besides, have you ever tried holding a K-1 with a battery grip and and a D-FA 150-450mm for 8 hours?! It's really heavy!



Your camera will see and record details you won't always be able to see with your own eyes. I would never have seen the pulses coming out of the engine below. When in doubt, just take the shot.



Bring a big memory card. Done right you will probably come close to filling it up completely. Remember, the airshow is more than just planes flying around. There is spectacle of theatre before and after the flights!



You won't always be able to shoot from the perfect spot. People may get in the way. That's OK. Sometimes a blurry back-of-the-head-shot can look kind of cool too.





Shoot RAW. The planes may be unevenly lit and the underside will definitely be darker than the top side. You will want to bring up the shadows so the plan won't look like a silhouette.





Sometimes you'll be lucky and the planes will be very nicely illuminated. Don't take it for granted when it does happen.



Don't forget to enjoy the show too! There will plenty of goodness to see.



The little planes will just as exciting to see as the big ones.



And don't forget the gliders too!



There's often more than just planes too. These people are just plain nuts in my mind!



Yep, no chute! At these jumpers have their chutes open.



Don't be afraid of unconventional crop ratios. The 9x16 can work too and looks great on a phone when sharing with friends.



After the shoot is done and over and your images are up for public consumption think about how you can improve for next time. is there something you can do differently on location? Is there something different you can do in post? I know I have a hard time keeping the illumination of my shadows consistent between shots.



My blue sky is different between shots.



What do you think I could have done differently? Don't hold back on me here. I tell my wife that all news ought to be bad news. How else will we know what to improve if everything is good all the time?



Lastly, forget about pixel peeping. Shoots like this aren't for test and measurement sites like DXO or ePhotoZine. They're for your heart. The images will be plenty sharp and the memory even sharper.



As I said in the beginning this is my first time shooting planes. Composing and creating the final shot is very different than say a portrait, a plate of food, or sporting event on the ground. The geometry and positions are very different here. What aspect ratio should you use? How do you center the shot? Do the same guidelines apply here as they do in other photography?



I'm done pontificating for now. How about just a straight photo dump?










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10-08-2017, 05:58 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Great series.....some awesome shots!!
10-08-2017, 06:07 PM   #3
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Fantastic shots!
10-08-2017, 06:09 PM   #4
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Wonderful series and yes, airshows are fun.

10-08-2017, 06:53 PM   #5
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Great work! I really like the shot of the Thunderbirds where they are nose to tail and all in line. Thanks for sharing.
10-15-2017, 04:42 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
The Minden-Tahoe airport hosted the 2017 Aviation Roundup airshow this weekend, Oct 7 and 8. Not only was this my first airshow but this was my first time photographing airplanes! It was a blast to say the least. I loved the speed and roar of the planes and the atmosphere was fun and family oriented. If you have never been to an airshow then I would highly recommend you make it a goal to attend at least one.

The internet is full of tips and ideas on photographing airshows. I covered the event with my K-1 and the D-FA 150-450mm f/4.5-5.6 lens. Here are my take-aways from the event with lots and lots of fun photos in between.

Bring the largest zoom or telephoto lens you have. Whatever you have will never be too much or too long. I found myself shooting at the maximum 450mm focal length and then cropping afterwards. Those planes will be plenty far from you for the most part. I'm zoomed in at 450mm and I'm cropping heavily here.



I could have easily used a 600mm or 800mm lens here ... assuming I would have been able to heft a thing like that!



Bring a second body with a zoom lens capable of wide angles. This will be good for covering flight paths that leave smoke and cloud streaks. At the longest zoom you can use it for candid shots and portraits. I used my Olympus E-M10 with a 12-35mm lens. Remember, switching cameras is waaaaay faster than switching lenses.

TAv mode with Auto ISO will be your friend. Set your shutter speed to your maximum tolerable for noise. I fixed my shutter speed at 1/2000 and my aperture was set to f/8. ISO floated to whatever it needed to be. It ended up being between 640 and 1600 for me. Planes fly fast and you will want the high shutter speed to help freeze the frame as you pan. You can try slower speeds too if you can track the plane with a heavy zoom lens. Camera shake can be a problem so go for the higher speeds. Except ...

Use slow speeds when propellor planes are taxiing. Slow speeds will blur the propellor and the effect is cool.



Forget the tripod and monopod. You can never guess where the planes will be at every moment. You need to be able to aim your camera in any direction, even straight up, very quickly. A tripod will only get in the way. I think I was pretty close to pointing straight up for this one.



I'm torn on enabling shake reduction. On the one hand, the shutter speed is so high any SR benefits will probably be negated. Besides, there's no way SR could possibly keep up with the amount of panning you probably need to do for tracking the aircraft. At the same time, I think I lost a few shots due to a SR system trying desperately to keep up. Some of my images were focused but obviously softened and blurred. Not out of focus - just smeared. I have a feeling the sensor was disco dancing pretty good inside the K-1 and shuddering like crazy. Keeping SR on is good if you switch from panning to still shots such as when the plane is taxiing. One less thing to remember to turn on!

Here's one that I kind of "lost" to SR. The planes don't look as crisp as they could be.



But here's one where SR didn't hurt.



I will run counter to most advice that says you should slow down and think about your shots. Everything is happening so fast that you barely have time to think. All you can do is react. Your skills and your deficiencies will be on full display and magnified. If you tend to miss shots then you will really miss them here. If you get a lot of keepers and you know what you're doing then you'll probably be just fine.

Trust your gear. I saw a Canon shooter with big ass lens the size of an ICBM. He chimping almost every shot. I don't know what he was looking for. Framing? Exposure? Focus? Whatever ... he missed a ton of potential shots because he was looking at his LCD screen. I understand you may want to check one or two frames as a sanity check but this is not the time to make meticulous adjustments to technique. You'll miss the shot no matter what. Either the moment will pass or the image will be crap. At that point either shoot and hope for the best or just sit back, forget about the camera, and enjoy the show. Sorry, it's tough but its true.

This old guy trusts his old plane with his life. If he trusts his gear then I'll trust mine!



Your Pentax is more than capable of capturing events like this. Don't think to yourself that you need a Canon, a Nikon, or a Sony with crazy wicked burst rates and insanely fast autofocus. Your lens will focused to infinity for the most part so it doesn't need to rock and roll from min to max focus. Just be sure to follow the planes. Track them with your eyes.



The D-FA 150-450mm lens is a very, very good lens. There's plenty of sharpness inside that heavy barrel of glass. It's up to you and your camera body to bring it out. I took a quick glance on the internet for equivalent lenses for other systems. Maybe I was looking in the wrong spot but I couldn't find anything quite like this lens for other systems.



Spray and pray and hope for the best. You will have no control over what the planes will do as they fly over. Just capture what you can and see what you can make out of it afterwards. Do your best to dynamically zoom and recompose. You may end up with a lot of bad shots with some nuggets in between. There's no way I could have anticipated this one.



I didnt use any burst mode. Just press the shutter butter repeatedly. Otherwise the buffer will fill too quickly and you could miss a magical moment.



Don't worry about keeping your camera perfectly level and straight. You may end up being 20-30 degrees crooked. That's OK. Take the shot. Chance are you'll have enough room around the subject to rotate and crop and still have room for the image to breathe. Besides, have you ever tried holding a K-1 with a battery grip and and a D-FA 150-450mm for 8 hours?! It's really heavy!



Your camera will see and record details you won't always be able to see with your own eyes. I would never have seen the pulses coming out of the engine below. When in doubt, just take the shot.



Bring a big memory card. Done right you will probably come close to filling it up completely. Remember, the airshow is more than just planes flying around. There is spectacle of theatre before and after the flights!



You won't always be able to shoot from the perfect spot. People may get in the way. That's OK. Sometimes a blurry back-of-the-head-shot can look kind of cool too.





Shoot RAW. The planes may be unevenly lit and the underside will definitely be darker than the top side. You will want to bring up the shadows so the plan won't look like a silhouette.





Sometimes you'll be lucky and the planes will be very nicely illuminated. Don't take it for granted when it does happen.



Don't forget to enjoy the show too! There will plenty of goodness to see.



The little planes will just as exciting to see as the big ones.



And don't forget the gliders too!



There's often more than just planes too. These people are just plain nuts in my mind!



Yep, no chute! At these jumpers have their chutes open.



Don't be afraid of unconventional crop ratios. The 9x16 can work too and looks great on a phone when sharing with friends.



After the shoot is done and over and your images are up for public consumption think about how you can improve for next time. is there something you can do differently on location? Is there something different you can do in post? I know I have a hard time keeping the illumination of my shadows consistent between shots.



My blue sky is different between shots.



What do you think I could have done differently? Don't hold back on me here. I tell my wife that all news ought to be bad news. How else will we know what to improve if everything is good all the time?



Lastly, forget about pixel peeping. Shoots like this aren't for test and measurement sites like DXO or ePhotoZine. They're for your heart. The images will be plenty sharp and the memory even sharper.



As I said in the beginning this is my first time shooting planes. Composing and creating the final shot is very different than say a portrait, a plate of food, or sporting event on the ground. The geometry and positions are very different here. What aspect ratio should you use? How do you center the shot? Do the same guidelines apply here as they do in other photography?



I'm done pontificating for now. How about just a straight photo dump?








Great photos!
10-28-2017, 01:15 PM   #7
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Very nice. I didn't get into the show at Boise but I was able to get this down the street from it. Unfortunately I don't have very color accurate monitors so it could look really weird.

10-28-2017, 01:17 PM   #8
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I also really like #19

---------- Post added 10-28-17 at 02:36 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by CaT_atomic Quote
I also really like #19
I mean #18. . . it's been a long day.

10-28-2017, 01:50 PM   #9
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Nice photos.
Only air show we went to was at Luke AFB back in 2005, fun time.
10-28-2017, 08:36 PM   #10
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Very well done; I've shot at air shows and know how difficult the conditions can be. You were blessed with good weather and captured some great shots!
10-28-2017, 10:12 PM   #11
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Beautiful shots. As a Canuck it's nice to see Canada represented at the airshow, with the RCAF.
10-28-2017, 11:36 PM   #12
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Super shots and nice commentary!
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