17 March 2016

On Location: Gazelle Display Squadron Night Shoot

I don't very often photograph helicopters but I've always been fascinated by them with their incredible manoeuvrability and versatility, so I was excited to have the opportunity to take part in a night shoot on 5 March at Bourne Park in Hampshire, the home of the Gazelle Squadron Display Team.  The shoot ran from early evening, through the nice half light of dusk, with the actual aircraft running happening in the dark.  A lighting tower was used, which worked well in terms of providing enough light without overpowering the subjects.

There were three Gazelles positioned for us to photograph.  The one shown below did not run, but was positioned nicely and lit well to look effective with the light catching it, and the darkness falling away behind...

...and to take advantage of the sunset which we were very fortunate to enjoy. 

There was plenty of time for a little twiddling with exposure times.  For example the photos shown below were taken within a couple of minutes, but one was exposed in order to see the helicopter, and the other was set to give more of a silhouette against the attractive sky behind.  I like 'arty' shots, so the second one is the one I prefer!

After a much appreciated pause for tea and cake (very civilised!), things progressed to shooting the helicopters while they were running.  The first to turn her rotor blades was XZ934, standing out nicely against the dark with her light coloured Royal Air Force 32 Squadron markings.  I love photography, but I also love aircraft, and I enjoyed being close as XZ934 hummed into life, the blades began to turn and then reach a fast enough speed to hear that familiar helicopter 'whop whop'.  It was my first time photographing helicopters as night, and it quickly became clear to me that capturing the rotors turning without them becoming completely invisible required a bit of thought and some careful positioning of backgrounds.

We then moved on to ZB627.  Known as 'Ginger', ZB627 originally served as an RAF training aircraft, and was also used for night vision reconnaissance.

A nicely different look, and a little fun with flare when the pilot 'lit her up'!  Sometimes you just HAVE to break the photographic rules!

Each aircraft was run for 4 minutes, allowing time for long exposures and some changes of position.  Afterwards it was interesting to watch them being 'put to bed', with the chance for some slightly different shots for those who, like me, enjoy shooting some of the 'behind the scenes' stuff.

As well as the Gazelles, the event team had also arranged for us to photograph while night running a rather reluctant Cessna, the elegant SIAI-Marchetti SF260, and - unexpectedly but very enjoyably - a Bulldog.  Additionally, the pretty-looking training and support helicopter G-SDTL, a Guimbal Cabri G2 was positioned outside the hangar for some more photographic variety.

All in all a highly enjoyable evening, and I look forward to their next night shoot.

6 August 2015

On Location: A Wet Weather Visit to IWM Duxford

After a beautiful evening during which I unexpectedly but wonderfully was introduced to the joys of hot air ballon flight I awoke to the news that a gale was on the way in, and by the time I had driven to Duxford it had arrived with a vengence!

A joy of Duxford is that it has acres of under cover aircraft to see, but the rain was so tremendous that despite being mostly in hangars all day, I still ended up drenched to the skin.  Though that may have partly been due to a) standing in the rain for some time watching a Harvard doing an engine run - worth getting wet for - and b) walking the entire length of the crowd line from 'Airspace' to beyond the 'tank bank' and back, as part of my training for the Spitfire 10k in September.  :)

If, like me, you are interested in aviation photography, Duxford is a gem.  After taking lots of action shots at Flying Legends earlier in the month, the rain meant that this day would be a day for details.

Here they are, and I hope you enjoy them.

Spitfire Repairs
P40C Curtis Tomahawk
Sea Fury Wheel
Harvard Undercarriage With Tow Text

Spitfire MH424

Prop Tip - Fairey Firefly

Dragon Rapide Prop Detail

Look at the Size of That Prop!
Sea Fury.
'Scramble!' Detail from Battle of Britain Monument

Crash Damaged Prop from Messerschmitt BF109E

Heinkel Tail Fin

Wheel. Spitfire N3200

Spitfire N3200 with Patterned Hangar Doors Behind

Mustang Shadow

Spitfire Shapes, Airspace

Mosquito and Lancaster

Spitfire under Lancaster Wing

Lancaster Cockpit

'Three Wings'
Lancaster, Spitfire, and Vulcan

Still Raining!  There's a Hurricane and a Tank in this Shot!

Despite the rain I had a very enjoyable day at Duxford, and can highly recommend it as a wet weather venue.

8 December 2014

On Location: Hay Winter Festival 2014

Regular readers of my irregular blog will know that I went to the Hay Winter Festival last year, and enjoyed it so much that I promised I would go back.  So I did.  As in 2013, the festival included a number of events and seminars as well as a packed food festival on Saturday, and 'Hay Does Vintage' on Sunday.

Last year I took my tiny Romahome R10, and this year I took my new van, the bigger but still compact Hillside Birchover.  Handily sized for parking in the Oxford Road car park where Powys Council allows motorhome parking for 1 night in 7.  Great for attending Hay Festivals!  If you do go in a campervan, the spaces right at the bottom are the flattest.

Hay on Wye is an interesting town of narrow twisty streets and interesting shops.  Not just bookshops!  The Festival takes place in various venues across the town, but the main food and vintage festivals are centred in the Market Place in or near the large marquee.

By lunchtime on Saturday the food festival was extremely busy with very little room to move, but there were still plenty of tasty treats on show to reward those who patiently weaved their way through the crowds.  Wonderful smells from pies and soups stimulated the appetite!

Delicious savoury muffins.
Locally made salsas.
Once stocked up with far too many delicious items, I set off through the town to enjoy some of the pretty local galleries, and explore some of the antique and vintage shops. The result of this was several handmade porcelain stars and hearts, and some camper van sized Christmas bunting.  Before long the van was looking very festive!

Sunday dawned fine and clear, and the food festival stalls of the previous day had been replaced by those of "Hay Does Vintage'.   

Pretty Vintage Items in the Old Electric Shop
The Cutest Booties in the Old Electric Shop!

Hay on Wye is famous as a fantastic place for anyone who loves books, but there's much more to see and do here.  This little town is a gem of a place for small specialist shops too.  There's a particularly nice stationers, and several galleries with items of all sorts and a wide price range.  Highly recommended for a weekend visit.

3 September 2014

East Kirkby 3 Lancs (er... 1 Lanc) Event 2 Sept 14

Despite the lack of Lancasters, the team at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre still put on a great day.  We had:

Just Jane, the resident Lancaster, doing two brilliant taxy runs and drawing in the crowds even without her cousins from Canada and Conningsby...

Yes, those engines are noisy!

There were model aircraft - including a Lancaster!  
So we had one flying Lancaster, if not quite the right size...

There was swing dancing in the hanger!

There were interesting things to see outside.  
(Lots of commercial stands too, including the very busy Canadian Lancaster Tour Trailer.)

There were re-enactors.

Who helped Sean with a very interesting talk on wartime kit and ordnance...

... which kept a large crowd attentive right through.

It seemed appropriate too in a rather ironic way, that Dakota 'Drag em Oot' was sitting outside the hanger having engine work done!

In short, an excellent day and as ever a credit to all the hard work by the team at East Kirkby, especially given they must have been as disappointed as the rest of us with the cancellations of the flying aircraft.

Thank you, LAHC, for another great day.  Wish I could be there on Sunday when I very much hope that the much planned for fly past of the two airworthy Lancasters takes place.  Even though I will be trying not to be too jealous!