Category Archives: vintage

Tell a Story

Wow, I just realized how long it’s been since I posted last.  Sorry, it’s almost shameful!  This time of year isn’t my favorite and I usually just work though it, hide from the heat, and wait for Autumn!

One of the good things I have going for me is a library full of images that I can go through, deleting some, and trying new editing techniques on others.  If you’ve followed any of my other posts or have seen my work on other websites, you know how much I love to post process my images.  To me, that RAW file is like a film negative, waiting to be developed.  I’ve gone from not processing an image at all, to over-cooking them with too much HDR!  As time goes on, I’ve tried to cut back on that and have gotten much more into black and white and the aged/antique look.

Another thing you probably know about me, if you’ve read any of my previous posts, is how much I love air shows.  Over the years I have shot literally thousands of frames of planes doing everything from sitting on the ground to high-speed passes and stomach churning aerobatics.  Like so many others I hang out with at the air shows, I’m always after that perfect shot (whatever that is).  What constitutes the “perfect shot” is a good question.  It would also be different for different people.  For some, it’s a shot of a Blue Angel’s F-18 frozen in air and tack sharp.  And for others, it may be a P-51 Mustang making a pass with the propeller nicely blurred and the body clear and sharp.

I think for me it’s a variety of shots.  Yes, I do want those tack sharp images of planes in the air, but I noticed that there are a lot of those floating around out there.  How do I know?  Because I frequent quite a few other websites and photo sharing communities and see them.  Some are quite good, but after a while I find myself wanting more, at least for my photos.  I want more than just another shot of a plane in the air, no matter what kind it is.

During the last air show I attended (the Planes of Fame Air Show), I talked about this with some photography friends and acquaintances.  One of the guys was taking pictures of some of the action on the ground, and others were playfully teasing him.  He said he was looking for shots that would tell a story.  When I heard this, I understood what he meant.  There’s a lot more going on at an air show than just the planes in the air.  This is something I’ve had in my head but hadn’t put words to it in this way.  I just called it a variety of shots.  If you look at my galleries you will see a mix of images.  Some may be better than others for many reasons, but in a few cases I’d say it’s because an image can tell a story.  It makes you want to know more, or just wonder what it would be like to be there.  Maybe it just makes you stop for a better look for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on.

Like I said, there are a lot of great shots of planes in the air out on the web, and maybe even a few from me.  But I believe it’s worth thinking about, or trying.  Look around, maybe there’s a picture waiting for you to frame and press the shutter that tells a story.

 

 

In the two examples above, you can see that there are air planes.  But there are also people, and activity.  What are they doing and where are they going with these planes?  Are they just moving them across the yard, or are they getting ready to put them in the air?  And doesn’t the black and white make you wonder when these were taken?  Are they recent or were they made back in the 40’s and 50’s?  Those are the types of things I mean when I want a picture to tell a story.  There’s more to it than just a plane against a blue background.  Don’t get me wrong, those are great too and I have plenty of them.  But I think it makes a gallery or collection much more interesting to mix it up with photos that tell a story!

That’s it for this post.  Hopefully it won’t be so long before the next one!  Until then, Happy Shooting!

 

One Photo, Endless Possibilities

Warning – if you are one of those photographers that thinks photos should be made in the camera with no post processing, then this isn’t for you!

If you’ve followed me at all, you know that I really enjoy post processing my images.  I love getting the camera out and making what I call my base shots.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a landscape or airplanes at an air show.  But to me that’s only part of the process.  Getting the images into my computer and finding new ways to “enhance” them is part 2.  If you like to post process your photos, it doesn’t really matter if you just tweak them a little bit or go hog wild.  The important thing is that you enjoy it.  Don’t get caught up in the debate about whether or not to edit, it’s entirely up to you!  It also doesn’t matter if  you use Photoshop or Picasa.  Use whatever you have or are comfortable with!

There are a couple of things that I like to do to my images.  One is to convert them to black and white, and the other is to give them a vintage treatment.  How do I know when to apply black and white or vintage?  I don’t know, at least not until I try it.  There are some types of photos that have the potential to look better in black and white or vintage.  For me, they tend to be older things such as WWII aircraft, or antique automobiles.  Old buildings like those you might see at a ghost town also work well.  Landscapes are a little harder to visualize.  If a scene is very colorful, such as a forest in Autumn, it might not make sense to convert it to black and white.  The best way to find out is pick one of you photos that you think might look good in black and white and convert it.  If it doesn’t work, then all you have to do is cancel your changes and close the image.  No harm – no foul.  Pick another photo and try again, and pretty soon you’ll start to develop a sense of what is a good candidate for black and white.  This may even carry over to when you are with your camera and looking at a scene.  Try to visualize it, not only as you see it, but also in black and white.  Keep trying, and if you do this enough, it should start to happen for you.

Here’s an example.  This is a WWII Focke-Wulf FW-190 (a.k.a. the Butcher Bird).  The original shot is from my Panasonic FZ1000, and was taken at the Planes of Fame Air Show earlier this year.

It’s not bad in color, and I did some post processing.  But when I look at it, I get the sense that it could be better in black and white.  Here’s what happened.

Not to bad, but it still seems like something is missing.  My next thought was how it might look had it been taken with a film camera in the 1940’s.  This is the result.

Most of the WWII (and earlier) photos that I’ve seen are faded, or just plain worn out.  The paper they were printed on has texture, and there are a lot of imperfections.  That’s what I love about them, all of the imperfections.  Personally I think it gives these photos character, something that a lot of technically perfect photos from todays cameras lack.  Just because a modern photo is tack sharp and has optimum bit depth and blah blah blah, doesn’t mean it has character, or in the case of a WWII era photo, a sense of history.  I guess what I’m saying is that a lot of todays perfect photos have no soul, some of mine included.  It’s something I’m working on with my post processing.  Every once in a while I think I’m getting close.

How about you?  Is there a type of photo that moves you or speaks to you in a way that others don’t?  If so, get your camera and favorite editing software and get busy!  Go over to my Facebook page and share some of your work – upatdawnphotograpy (just click the link).

That’s it for now, until next time – Happy Shooting!

 

My FZ1000 at an Air Show.

Wow, I can’t believe how fast time flies!  The 2015 Planes of Fame Air Show has already come and gone.  It’s one of my favorite photo events of the year.  Well, there was one thing new about it, they had an afterburner after dark feature.  This part of the show is exactly what it sounds like, and the F-18 and F-22 really delivered!  It was a lot of fun and made the usual Friday routine much better!  Oh, there was one more thing, I used my new camera, the Panasonic FZ1000.

As usual, I’m not here to do an exhaustive scientific review, but rather share my impressions after having used the FZ1000 for 3 days straight and making several thousand photos.  I’m also not doing an in-depth air show review, sorry.  Let’s just say that if you are in the Southern California area in May and you love vintage aircraft, including WWII Warbirds, late model Korean/Vietnam War era planes, and even some modern high tech jets, than you owe it to yourself to check out the Planes of Fame Air Show and Museum!  If you do go, bring your camera, plenty of memory cards and batteries, a wide brimmed hat, chair, and sun screen.

I actually had 3 cameras set up for the air show this year.  My trusty Canon 60D with Tamron 200-500mm lens, and the Olympus E-M5 with 7.5mm Rokinon Fisheye, Olympus 17mm f/1.8, and Panasonic 45-200mm.  I also brought along my Red Dot Sight (RDS) for my E-M5.  The idea was to use it instead of the electronic viewfinder (EVF).  I could keep both eyes open, put the red dot on my target, follow it in the sky and snap away.  It didn’t quite work out for me, more than likely because I need more practice.  So the RDS went back in the bag and while I did use the E-M5 from time to time, it mostly stayed in the bag.

My 60D and big Tamron always work.  And I did start out using them.  That is until I got the FZ1000 out of the bag.  It felt perfect in my hands.  Larger in size than my E-M5, and maybe even a bit bigger than my 60D’s body, but much lighter.  It has a much better viewfinder than my E-M5 (in my opinion), and shoots faster than the 60D or E-M5 (12 fps vs 5.5 fps and 9 fps).  And the best thing is that it does very well with fast moving objects, especially in good light, which was very plentiful.  Although I’ve read many, many reviews and personal accounts on the FZ1000’s performance, I was still impressed when I experienced it in person.  Once I got the feel of the FZ1000 on the first day of the show, the 60D went back in the bag and stayed there.  I never used it again for the next 2 days of the air show.

The FZ1000 looked a little out of place compared to my photography friends Canon 1DX and other photographers equally large Canons and Nikons.  But I wasn’t there to impress anyone with my gear.  I was there to enjoy the show, and that meant not lugging around a heavy bag of stuff.  Yes, my 60D and Tamron 200-500mm offer a lot of reach but the FZ1000 can get out there too at 400mm.  And did I mention that it’s fast?  Wow (again), is it fast?!  As soon as I brought it up to my eye and half pressed the shutter, it would almost immediately lock on and I could fire off a burst at 12 fps.  There were plenty of misses, but also a lot more keepers.  In fact my keeper rate was so good that I came home with upwards of 4,000 frames to sift through.  I’ve been steadily reviewing my photos since the event last week and have deleted hundreds.  Having so many is allowing me to get very picky, which is a good thing.  There’s really no reason to have 4 or 5 near duplicates of virtually the same image.  Having such a fast burst rate can really fill up a memory card too.  Not complaining, just sharing.  One more thing to share is memory card write speed.  My Transcend 32 GB SD cards are not quite fast enough to keep up.  Looks like I’m going to need to upgrade them.  Good thing they don’t cost too much.

Getting back to the reach, the 60D and 200-500mm Tamron have an advantage over the FZ1000’s 400mm.  But as the show went on and I got more used to the FZ1000, I found 400mm to be quite enough.  The trick is to wait for the planes to come closer.  I noticed that everyone around me would start shooting when the planes were much too far away.  All you are going to get when you do that is a little dot on the screen with a bunch of sky.  All of the planes made plenty of passes and would usually come around for what’s known as a photo pass.  That means when they flew by they would bank and tilt their wings giving you a much better view.  They were also much closer than when they were grouping up and trying to get into a formation.  I also took advantage of takeoffs, landings, and the planes moving back and forth on the hot ramp.  This was another area that the FZ1000 worked perfectly.  I didn’t need to change lenses when I wanted a wide shot.  I just zoomed out and pressed the button!  If something changed, I could quickly zoom back in and grab a detail shot.

Are there any downsides to the FZ1000?  Sure!  Compared to my 60D the battery life is poor.  But the same can be said for my E-M5.  The remedy is to have extra batteries, no big deal.  For it’s size, the FZ1000 is fairly light weight.  It doesn’t have the build quality that my E-M5 does.  That doesn’t mean it’s a delicate little flower, you just need to be mindful not to get too rough with it.  No different than any other piece of electronic equipment.

And now for the results!













Something to note about the photos above, they’ve all been edited in one way or another. None of this is straight out of the camera. I shoot RAW with the express intention that the images will be post processed.

I have so many photos from this air show that I’m going to create a new gallery for them, so check back from time to time for that. And since I brought them with me, I am going to do a follow up on the air show and my 60D and E-M5.

That’s it for this post, I hope you enjoyed it! Until next time, Happy Shooting!