Photography Tips { LRAFB Airshow 2012 }

Little Rock Air Force Base Air Show 2012

The airshow is a perfect time to play with your camera!  Lighting situations are constantly changing, your subjects are on the move, therefore you are forced to keep checking your exposure.  You’ll get some overexposed shots, and some underexposed shots, but you’ll also rock some shots and feel giddy when you do.  Here are some tips to get you started.

To photograph the aircraft in the air on a bright sunny day:

ISO – Set it and forget it at 200.  Aperture –  Personal preference, but I would suggest starting with anything from f5 – f11.  Shutter Speed will be FAST.  To stop the motion of those jets, you’ll need 1/2000, 1/4000, etc.

Look in your camera’s manual to find out how to adjust contrast and saturation.  Adjusting these settings will get you more color pop and will provide more contrast between your very blue sky background and the aircraft, your subjects.

Try a few White Balance settings, and go with what looks good to you.

I pushed my camera’s contrast and saturation settings up to pop the colors, and show some separation between the blue sky and the blue aircraft.

Get a sharper image by anticipating where the aircraft will be and pre-focus by pressing the shutter button half-way.  Wait for the aircraft to enter the frame and snap! (You’ll need to keep both eyes open for the Blue Angels)  Another, trickier, way is to follow the aircraft by moving your camera (panning) with it.  This is a good time to try out that multiple-shots setting!

I trailed the jets with my camera for this shot (panning) and snapped it when I saw the sun reflect off of the aircraft.

Don’t just photograph the aircraft.  You’ll end up with 500 images of tiny aircraft if you keep your camera pointed at the sky.  Capture your kids’ reactions to the show, capture the vendors, and capture the static displays.

They had just bitten into their watermelon when one of the Blue Angels screamed past overhead. My babies were NOT impressed.

Capturing your kids:

Look for shade – the shadows will be less harsh.  Make sure you change your white balance.  Again, play with the saturation and contrast settings if you wish.  Capture the backs of their heads, or capture them shading their eyes as they trail the aircraft.  Minimize posing – they hate it and it frustrates you.

If you’re taking an image of your kids with an aircraft in the background, you may need to {gasp} pop up the flash. ( You can adjust the output of your flash – look in your owner’s manual – so that its not overpowering. )  Adjust your exposure (use a larger f-stop number, like f/11) for the background aircraft, recompose the shot with your kid in the foreground.  If you take the image now, your kid will be dark, but pop up that flash at ¼ power and it will fill in the face.

(I don’t have any examples of this because I didn’t take many images of my kids at the last airshow.  :-(  )

Capturing the static displays:

Look for details.  Photos of planes get monotonous, unless you’re a pilot.  Get details – wheels, bolts, instruments, hoods, ladders, etc.  It will add depth and layers to your story.  Capture your kids looking at the aircraft.  When you’re inside the static displays, up your ISO to 800 and see if you can get more light to your sensor.

AC-130 LRAFB Airshow 2010

My husband flies a C-130 and loves to tell me about all of the modifications that can be done to this very versatile aircraft with many special ops missions – including the AC-130 gunship.

LRAFB Airshow 2010 A-10

My husband’s favorite aircraft of all time – the A-10.

Have fun!  Look at this as a fun learning experience.  Expect about 25% of your images to be acceptable.  That’s okay because you have instant feedback on your LCD screen and can retake the image if you don’t like it.

Let me know what you think and if these tips helped!  Enjoy the show!

Blue Angels LRAFB 2012

Isn’t it amazing how close together they fly?? This was one in a series of click-click-click shots.

Blue Angels LRAFB 2012

I love this shot! The jet was flying closer to the sun, so I had to increase my shutter speed, but it worked out well – look at the frozen action!