When thinking about photo opportunities I often think about what the most challenging aspect of a shot may be. That was especially on my mind yesterday as I was trying out a new camera (the Fuji XT-2) in the challenging environment of the USMC airshow at Miramar in San Diego. The contributing factors were that this camera has a brand new (improved?) autofocusing system, I hadn’t had the chance to practice with it much, and I would be trying to capture very quickly moving aircraft. I especially thought about one of the most difficult shots that I knew I would encounter (based on being at this airshow before). The Navy’s aviation demonstration team, the Blue Angels, would be performing and one of their featured demonstrations is for their two solo aircraft to approach each other from opposite ends of the runway and pass VERY close together at midfield – with a closing speed of over 800 mph!. As you might guess, that situation stresses the camera, the autofocus system and the photographer – that was my quest. Long story short, I waited for the moment of that maneuver and prepared for the shot. As the aircraft approached the centre of the show, each flying at over 400mph, I tracked one aircraft and tried to guess the moment they would pass. I fired off a quick sequence of shots but I didn’t know whether I had caught both aircraft as I had to quickly prepare for the next pass of “the Blues”. I didn’t actually look at my photos until I got home and did a quick review of my photos. I was greatly relieved to find this shot (the one that I had imagined in my mind) in the collection. My small quest had been a success……!
We took the 2 hour ride out to the El Centro Air Show last weekend to catch the first Blue Angel show this year – if you follow aviation, you probably know that most of their shows last year were cancelled due to the infamous budget sequestration that our congress thought was good governance (question – how would THEY know anything about governance). Sorry – just had to throw that in. It was a nice show with most of the performers (except the Blues) being civilian – the military is still cutting way back on their support for these shows. The worst thing about trying to take photos of the jets in a desert setting is that the background is almost always plain blue skies with no clouds or vapor trails from the planes. In any case here are a few of my photos from the show…..
This first one is the diamond formation coming out of a loop and diving towards the ground and the audience – a beautiful sight to see.
The second is one showing the diamond formation up close. They advertise that the distance between the wingtips and the canopies of the other planes is as close as 18 inches – this photo would seem to bear that out!
This last one is the two solo pilots doing a pass in front of the stands – one inverted and one “right side up” – both with their landing gear and arresting hooks deployed. Again, without clouds or anything in the background they appear to just be hanging there. It was fun seeing the “blues” in action again – hope you enjoy these highlights.