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10-21-2010, 05:09 PM   #1
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First airshow coming this weekend. Any pointers?

I was wondering if anyone has any pointers before I go. I just got my sigma 70-200 2.8 I am dying to try on the K7!

10-21-2010, 05:17 PM   #2
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Bring that, and anything else that is longer if you have it. And a 12-24 for static shots :-)

I have been using AF-C and auto-select for the focus point for flying planes. I used to tap-tap-tap the shutter for repeated focus as they approached, but that seems like a waste. AF-S for static and everything else.
10-21-2010, 05:23 PM   #3
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What about the catch in focus technique? Others know a whole lot more about this than I ever do, but for this it may be an idea to try.
10-21-2010, 07:57 PM   #4
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I shot a show last year and it was much tougher than I thought. A zoom is the way to go. I had a DA 60-250 and a Vivitar 100-500. I used the 100-500 more than anything else just because of how quickly they moved and the varying distances I had to shoot at. Plus, manual focus was (for me) easier than the autofocus lens.

I got the best pictures from center focus and exclusively used AF-C through-out. The reason for the center focus was because how quickly the planes moved. My K10D just wasn't doing a very good job selecting the focus point on objects moving so quickly. At center focus I could keep the 60-250 focused. The Vivitar is manual focus - so no issues there. However, it's tough to prepare your focus plane (don't know what else to call it...) when trying to focus on an empty spot in the sky, I spent a lot of time tracking the planes and keeping them focused as they maneuvered. Frankly, my arms were tired by the end of the day due to this...

I did not go to the venue itself - my house was a couple blocks away and close enough to capture the action. I preferred that because I was able to get better side shots than if I had been there. Otherwise I think I would have been stuck with a lot more shots of the underbellies. Since I was west of the show (and it started around 1ish, it also gave me better light where I was. I shot auto (green) mostly as I had cloudy skies and it was common for bright sunlight to turn into clouds during the same shot.

I tried to shoot DNG, but switched to JPEG about 1/2 way through. The burst time and amount of shots with DNG just were not enough (granted - I had way too many shots to sort through afterwards).

I did not use a tripod. The shake reduction worked perfectly fine and not using a tripod allowed me full 360 degree movement as the planes flew around me. One item that was a lifesaver was not using the neck strap. Several hours of that around my neck would have killed my neck. I had a shoulder harness setup that put the weight on my shoulders while still allowing me good maneuverability. Trust me, after enough time holding your camera to your eye, you'll want to be able to rest your arms for a bit.

I tried to plan my shots real-time. Almost every plane did some type of loop and i tried diligently to catch the planes in various stages of the loop - while keeping them still at reasonable distances and trying to get the pilot in the picture if possible. The best shots seemed to be where the plane(s) would come out of the loop and fly by my house. I wish I would have watched the main attraction via the internet prior to the show. That way, I could have anticipated much better. I'd highly recommend researching the show of the headline so you can anticipate your shots also. You'll come out with much better shots if you do.

10-21-2010, 08:43 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by powdablu21 Quote
airshow
Is that this weekend? I forgot all about it!
10-21-2010, 08:55 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by chalion Quote
What about the catch in focus technique? Others know a whole lot more about this than I ever do, but for this it may be an idea to try.
I've never used that. It seems to me it would be difficult as you are normally panning with the subject and waiting for the right framing moment to pop a couple shots (I rarely do a burst). With CIF it would just pop one shot, and that would be it. You would have to wait until they (hopefully) come around again. Plus you would have to pre-focus on empty space.
10-21-2010, 10:15 PM   #7
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With air shows it all depends on where you are at in relation to where the aircraft are flying. If you can't find a good spot, you will struggle to get good pics. Sometimes the best spots are outside the fence. If they have a practice day the day before, sometimes it can help to watch that to get an idea of how the routines are going to go so you can plan ahead.
I have found that what works best for me are A series primes in AV mode.
Zooms/AF will work, but usually it is best to stick to one length and plan your shot instead of chasing a moving object while trying to zoom/focus. It may be just me, but I find it easier to set my ISO and f-stop to where I think it needs to be and that way I only need to worry about the focus and shoot bit. It frees up what few brain cells I have left to concentrate on the subject...
Check out the aviation group in the social groups section.
Your results may vary...
10-22-2010, 08:04 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by r0ckstarr Quote
Is that this weekend? I forgot all about it!
Yes sir, going on saturday!

10-22-2010, 08:24 AM   #9
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What kind of air show? Is the military involved?

I went to a few in Ft. Lauderdale, where it's military and they do a lot of maneuvers right over the beach.
10-22-2010, 09:09 AM   #10
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Military oriented. USAF Thunderbirds and Im sure plenty of other military planes. Many vintage military planes with be there. The website is wingsoverhouston.com
10-22-2010, 09:43 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by powdablu21 Quote
Military oriented. USAF Thunderbirds and Im sure plenty of other military planes. Many vintage military planes with be there. The website is wingsoverhouston.com
Very cool. Your lens at 200 should be able to do the job, and here are my hints:

1) Chances are, they're going to drop some parachutists. If you can get as close to the landing area as possible--which won't necessarily be the best viewing for other stuff--be there when they come down, but don't bother shooting until they get close.

2) There's usually a schedule telling you when and where things will be happening.

3) Be ready for +1, +2 Ev all day. Otherwise, you'll be metering for too bright a sky, or white clouds.

4) If you want to ignore #3 above, and depending on the color/tone of the plane, this might be the time to use Spot Metering--and lock it in if you're shooting in Av mode.

5) If they have aerobatic biplanes, resist the temptation to click too early. Wait until they're at the very top of their altitude and they "stall" before coming down. That's when they're at their slowest and you can capture them the sharpest.

6) It's going to be tricky selecting ISO to match the shutter speeds and aperture you're going to want, but definitely set ISO manually. Also, shoot everything at the sweetest sharpness your lens can muster, or just stop down two stops. You're going to be shooting stuff at a far distance, and DOF ain't going to be much of an issue, so 5.6 or 8 should do you all day. If it's a sunny day, I say just set it at 400.

7) The Thunderbirds (I've seen them several times at the Ft. Lauderdale Air and Sea Show) are trained to look beautiful from the ground, and they don't fly half as fast as you would imagine and make for some beautiful shots. Your best ones will be with your lens at the WIDER end, getting them all in frame when they're closest to you.

8) If you don't bring a polarizer, don't bother going.

Have fun!!!
10-22-2010, 12:31 PM   #12
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Just an FYI for you North Texans, the Fort Worth/Alliance airshow is next weekend (Oct 30-31). Featuring Navy Blue Angels, among others.
www.allianceairshow.com/
10-22-2010, 07:50 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
Very cool. Your lens at 200 should be able to do the job, and here are my hints:
Excellent advice.
10-25-2010, 03:01 PM   #14
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well, I went, I saw, I took many,many pics....I had some turn out good and a bunch not so good. My standards are pretty low compared to most of you guys, but I am happy with a few of them. However, I do feel I need just a little more range as far as the lens goes. A lot more skill as far the the photographer goes! lol. I managed to get in the front row as I got there right when the gates opened. I was amongst a million Nikonians, and a half million Canonians! Saw some serious high dollar equipment. Next time I will go both days so I will know what to expect and be more prepared as well as have more range with a longer lens.
10-25-2010, 05:05 PM   #15
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Forgot the most important part of the post....Thanks everyone for their great input. It helped me a lot!
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