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Two Up… Two Down…

Got a request from a client for some pics of the Navy’s Blue Angels. I’ve had the opportunity to shoot them now every other year at the Memorial Day Air Show at Jones Beach. Can never get enough of these guys (or the Thunderbirds) in flight. Just an awesome display of engineering, power, and skill. With the Air Show just around the corner figured I’d dust off some of the older shots and review the ones I like, and the ones I have to re-try this year.

Enjoy!

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The Shot That Almost Was…

So I am at the water’s edge at the Jones Beach Air Show watching this F18/A Super Hornet cruising up the beach. I can’t hear the announcer telling the crowd that its about to rev its engines and shoot to 610 mph. At that speed, the jet pushes the air and compresses it so quickly, it turns to water vapor and creates a wicked cool condensation cloud around the aircraft. I’ve seen this on YouTube, never thought I’d have the opportunity to actually take a picture of it… I had just called Kathy on my cell phone to see how the kids were enjoying the Hornet (they were strategically located at base camp, a bunch of umbrellas and coolers up the beach), phone back in holster, resume camera position, jet is heading my way not to quickly… when suddenly BLAM! Huge noise, jet accelerates and guess what, not expecting it, I jump, (scared the poop outta me) and then reacting put the D3 to my eye and start clicking… ended up with a nice shot of the F18/A’s butt.

$%#!

I realized I had broken the 3rd rule of photography… 3. Pay Attention! (BTW, 1. is take the lens cap off, 2. “Zero” out your camera before shooting (check ISO, White Balance & Shooting Mode)).

I also realized that in my life there will be lots of shots I will miss. Can’t help that~ bad location, bad timing, bad light… This one hurt. A split second earlier, and I would have scored a killer shot, one to post and smile about. Instead I got “Jet-Butt” and pretty much useless pixels, except maybe it could be a lesson learned and shared… When camera is in hand, PAY ATTENTION!

badshotf18

Memorial Day 2009

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

— John Gillespie Magee, Jr

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

I first heard of this poem after the Space Shuttle Challenger Tragedy in 1986. Then President Reagan used the verse from Magee’s poem as a tribute to the astronauts who died so valiantly that day.

John Magee was 19 when he wrote “High Flight”, and while I am not a pilot, I imagine it captures the feeling of flight perfectly. Magee had piloted a Spitfire V to 30,000 feet and upon landing wrote a letter to his parents that included his now famous lines.

Three months later he was killed in a mid-air collision.

I love his poem, and as I saw this image taking shape in my viewfinder at the airshow yesterday, I thought of his words and how this pillar of smoke rising in the sky might compliment his immortal words nicely… Enjoy!

I Think God Listens to 6 Year Olds…

Last night my son and I watched the weather report for today. Significant chance of precipitation during the day, and high probability of a passing thunderstorm. Not so good for the airshow at Jones Beach.

“What can we do?” Tristan asked me.

“I guess we pray…” I answered, not very optimistically, as my eyes were glued to the Doppler 12,000 on some news channel.

And pray he did. Last thing Tristan said to me before he went to bed was he had said a prayer that the weather would be nice and the Thunderbirds would fly.

I think God does listen to 6 year olds. Or at least he does after making us sweat it out for a bit. Day dawned grey with a passing rumble, got to the beach and was rewarded with a huge bank of fog that made the Jones Beach Spire disappear. I was about to pack it in when the sun started burning it off~ still no planes. The announcer told us that many of the planes have little instrumentation and that the pilots need to navigate based on the horizon. A visible horizon, which for most of the morning was, well, invisible. By about 1:00 pm, the horizon made an appearance and the planes took to the air.

I’ll post some of me best over the course of this week… and some of my missed opportunities~ Like the F-18A Super Hornet going Supersonic – HUGE VAPOR CLOUDS, but I was busy on my cell, and got my camera locked to slowly. I did get a great picture of the event from the plane’s tail perspective (very upset at this one, was a million dollar image… BLOWN!).

But like all things there are golden nuggets that keep you coming back. The ThunderBirds leapt to the air and the photo opp’s were abundant so long as you shot into the eastern sky… the west was all pea-soup and haziness. So about half the images popped off the page~ like the one below, which may be one of my favorites from the day… Enjoy!

BTW: This is the first image I’ve printed using NIK’s Sharpener Pro 3.0, Kinda amazing the detail it brings out in prints… can’t wait to play with this software more.

Peeling Off the Diamond