• 11-05-2012, 10:23 AM
    Blue Angels Homecoming Show
    I live just a couple of hours from Pensacola, where the Blue Angels are based, so if possible, I go over for their end-of-season airshow, always one of the biggest events in the airshow biz.

    I know this isn't really a sport, but it is about performance, so here we go, just a few of my faves from the weekend.

    F/A-18F Super Hornet showing how easy it is to pull water out of thin air.

    F-16 not to be outdone.

    #2 and #3 are actually flying 2-seat jets. I think they were carrying next year's #2 and #3 pilots


    Sneak passes: #5 from the left at 720mph and 50 feet altitude! (Officially. I think he might cheat that sometimes....)

    Less than 2 seconds later, with the D7000's 3D focus tracking keeping up with it!

    Followed by #6 from behind the crowd.

    On Friday they also did a night show, starting just about sunset. The Super Hornet took to the air just as the sky began to really darken, and lit everything up with afterburner flame!

    This is a group called Team RV, 12 pilots flying homebuilt kit planes. (We were missing one this weekend, though, only eleven.)

    This is a T-6 Texan with sparklers on the wingtips, lights on the belly, and pyro dispensers popping fireworks during the show. Lit here only by his own sparklers, sky is pitch black now.
  • 11-05-2012, 01:55 PM
    That is an AWESOME set of photos, wfooshee! I can't believe how sharp that first one is, considering how fast that plane is going! The formation in the third image is excellent, too! I'm really impressed with these photos. It doesn't matter whether some people do or don't consider this a sport - either. It's super fast, technical action photography and for that reason it absolutely belongs on this forum.

    Can you share a bit about your camera settings and technique for shooting these? I assume you're panning for all of them? What kind of shutter speed and ISO did you use?
  • 11-05-2012, 02:39 PM
    Re: Blue Angels Homecoming Show
    Sorry, for some reason I thought I did that.

    D7000 with Nikon's 70-300 ED VR. I used the camera's 3D Continuous focus-tracking, which is nothing short of evil witchery. Whatever it focuses on when you half-press stays focused.

    Compared to previous cameras, my D5000 said it had 3D tracking, I never saw it happen. Probably something to do with 11 sensors instead of 39. The D50 I had before that wouldn't even reliably auto-focus a fast subject at all, I shot manual-focus with it, which was not fun.

    ISO 200 for the daylight shots. For jets I used shutter-priority 1/1000th, for props I varied from 1/320 to 1/125, usually 1/250, though. I hate a frozen prop in an airplane picture.

    All of these are cropped for composition from the full frame and resized for the web. Even after cropping I had to reduce the image size for web posting. I could probably get sharper images more consistently with a good longer lens, but then I'd miss a few house payments and have to live in a tent. :) Nor would I keep the subject in the frame as I moved. Room to crop gives me wiggle room as I'm moving the camera to follow the action.

    The twilight and night shots started at ISO 1600 for the Super Hornet, dropped the shutter to 1/500th, and when it was completely dark, ISO 6400 for the T-6. Even so, it was underexposed, as I didn't dare go slower than 1/250th while shooting at 300mm, so it got a little boost in PP.

    Yes, I'm panning with the jet I want to shoot. I also have to remember to zoom out as the jet approaches or risk losing it out of frame. That happened the first day in the sneak pass sequence, I got the approach but only had the tail in the broadside shot because I simply forgot to pull back. I did it right on the second day, but even then the jet is on the very right edge of the full frame,

    In some situations I shot continuous frames. In other situations, Like opposing crossovers, I kept the non-viewfinder eye open and watched for the other aircraft to approach. Here's one I managed to catch of the two solos passing opposite directions. I tried for this 6 or 7 times during the show, always getting just one plane, or just a tiny piece of the second one. I got this one right, though! Motion blur at 1/1000 shutter shows the closing speed of the aircraft!

  • 11-05-2012, 04:21 PM
    Re: Blue Angels Homecoming Show
    this set ROCKS!!!!!!

    Well done . I feel a 7000 in my future
  • 11-05-2012, 07:15 PM
    Re: Blue Angels Homecoming Show
    Just a couple more....

    This one of the F-16 is from moments later in the same pass, and is much sharper, but I really really like the vapor cloud on the other one above!

    #5's takeoff, a very hard pull-up from the runway into an immediate 360-degree roll, with the gear still extended. Notice that the tail is closer to the ground than the gear. That is a sharp pull on the stick!

    A separation maneuver the diamond executes, so the diamond pilots show that they can pull gs just like the solos. :)

    Speaking of panning, I'm rather insufferably pleased with this shot. 300mm and 1/160th! Like I said, I hate frozen propelles. :)
  • 11-05-2012, 08:26 PM
    Re: Blue Angels Homecoming Show
    Your camera takes nice pictures! :)
  • 11-05-2012, 09:36 PM
    Re: Blue Angels Homecoming Show
    LOL!!! And my aunt's oven makes great cookies! But truly, there's a very real difference between these and the images from previous events with previous cameras like the D5000, and especially over the D50.

    (It's OK, folks, it's my brother. Oh, that makes it his aunt, too!)

    And looking at that P-51 image again, I find myself distracted by the orange flash of the windsock right behind the aircraft. My mind's eye wants it to be an afterburner flame! One day real soon now I may have to clone that out.....
  • 11-05-2012, 11:07 PM
    Re: Blue Angels Homecoming Show
    Great stuff!
  • 11-06-2012, 07:23 AM
    Old Timer
    Re: Blue Angels Homecoming Show
    Outstanding work! Nice to see the D7000 perform this well for you. I've been very pleased with mine as a backup to the D700 for sports action.
  • 11-06-2012, 04:29 PM
    Re: Blue Angels Homecoming Show
    Nice to see Crazy horse still flying. I have photos of that plane from the early 90's
  • 11-15-2012, 01:38 AM
    Re: Blue Angels Homecoming Show
    A nice series to watch. Unfortunately, not all photos completely sharp.
  • 11-15-2012, 10:16 AM
    Re: Blue Angels Homecoming Show
    As to sharpness, I'm quite satisfied with the pictures except for #2 in the first post. I almost didn't include it but I caught the vapor cloud really well on that. Those clouds puff in and out of existence as the aircraft passes, and getting it is a matter of luck. The first image of post#5 is from the same pass, is much sharper, but not as "exciting" with less condensation visible.

    The other sharpness issue would be the night shot trailing sparklers, but with 1/250th and nearly 300mm (DX) it was the plane or the fireworks, can't get both. So the fireworks have movement trails.

    It's also possible I went a little too far with the noise filter on the RAW files, creating a little bit softer image, but compared to air show shots I've done previously, with other cameras, these stand an order of magnitude better. The focus tracking on the D7000 was simply awesome, bordering on magic, and I had more resolution even after cropping than I did with my D5000.
  • 11-18-2012, 11:53 AM
    Re: Blue Angels Homecoming Show
    Night shot = very cool!

    Blue Angels are awesome to shoot...I was fortunate enough to score a ride on Fat Albert!

    check out my website under blog -> news...im not allowed to post links yet :(