Tag Archives: aircraft

Planes of Fame Living History Events

It was my pleasure to attend one of the Planes of Fame Air Museum’s (in Chino, California) Living History Events.  They have one of these wonderful events every month.  The topic of this month’s event was the Lockheed Skunk Works.  Along with guest speaker presentations, there are usually static displays of relevant aircraft and a flight demonstration.

I think one of the things that attracts me to an event like this is to hear, first hand from Veterans, what it was like to be involved in a particular aspect of one of the wars, flying the aircraft, or in some cases designing and building aircraft.  There’s so much information that is shared and it’s great that you can hear it straight from the guys who were there, and actually did the things you might have heard or read about.  Although the seats aren’t that comfortable (I can’t sit in one place too long anymore), I started to pay less attention to my ass falling asleep and more to the presentation.

One of the other things I noticed was that this event drew a lot of people – the place was packed!  And there was nothing but respect shown for the Veterans and other guest speakers.  Let’s face it, speaking in front of a crowd can be intimidating, and not everyone can just start talking and not get a little nervous.  That didn’t seem to matter, the audience was quiet, patient, and showed respect, and the event continued on.

In addition to the guest speakers, there’s usually a warbird or two on display outside of the hangars.  And if everything goes well, there’s also a flight demonstration.  As usual, I have a camera or two with me, and for this event I brought my Olympus E-M5 and assorted lenses, and my Sony RX100.  Both cameras worked perfectly for shots in and around the static displays.  I kept my 45-200mm Panasonic lens on the E-M5 and used the RX100 for anything close up.  The only trouble I had was when the P-38J went up for the flight demonstration.  While I was able to grab a few shots of the P-38 in the air, they weren’t that good and I’m not going to post any.  The E-M5 isn’t the best option for fast moving aircraft (no phase-detection-autofocus, tracking focus mode is poor).  Was I disappointed?  No, not really.  I knew there was a compromise to be made by bringing the E-M5 and leaving my Canon at home.  The Canon 60D has no problem with fast moving objects, but with the Tamron 200-500mm lens, it’s big and heavy.  Seems like it gets heavier with every year I get older.  But the up side is portability!  I was able to fit all of my gear (2 cameras, 4 lenses) in a single bag.  Besides, there’ll be plenty of opportunities for photos of planes in the air when I start going to the air shows!

If you are interested in vintage aircraft or warbirds, then consider visiting the Planes of Fame Air Museum.  Better yet, try to make it out to one of their monthly events.  I’ve met some very friendly folks, some just interested in the warbirds, and others that are interested in both – the warbirds and photography!  If you really like this type of thing, think about becoming a member!  I finally did it during the event, and looking back should have done it a long time ago!

Here are some photos from the event:








That’s it for this post. Don’t forget to click on the links to the Planes of Fame Air Museum and check it out! Thanks for looking and Happy Shooting!

Cable Airshow and my OM-D E-M5

The Cable Airshow was something I was looking forward to for a couple of reasons.  The 1st was because it’s an airshow!  And the 2nd is because it was a great place to finally give my Olympus OM-D
E-M5 a real workout!

Cable Airshow, Olympus OM-D E-M5

I’ve been wondering, since I got my E-M5, whether or not it would be a replacement for my Canon 60D, especially with regards to the fast action of an airshow.  And I finally have my answer. Unfortunately it’s no!

In order to really put the E-M5 to the test, I left my Canon 60D at home. This forced me to use the E-M5 in every situation, from high speed fly-by’s to static displays. I brought lenses for the show, but stayed mostly with the Panasonic 45-200mm. I found the 45-200mm adequate, and for this airshow seldom needed the extra reach of a longer lens. The key, no matter which camera system you may own is to be patient. While it can be tempting to start shooting while the planes are far off, the best method for getting that great shot is to wait for them to get closer and then press that shutter. It sounds easier than it is to actually do! As you hear the low rumble of the engines in the distance, the excitement begins to build and you just may not be able to wait. I know I still have that trouble.

As the show progressed, I started to get comfortable with the performance of the E-M5. I set the camera to shutter priority, 1/200th of a second, and let the camera choose the appropriate aperture (f-stop). Some of the other settings were ISO 200, high speed shutter at 9 fps, and RAW file format.

With the shutter speed fixed at 1/200th, the camera could not achieve its maximum 9 fps. How can I tell?  By the sound. Not very scientific and more seat of the pants, but it’s definitely not 9 fps. When I switched over to aperture priority and set the f-stop to f/4, there was a distinct difference in the sound of the shutter firing away in very rapid succession!

Getting back to the airshow, I picked out a good spot about midway down the field and staked out my claim (put my chair down). The planes would take off right in front of me! And, when they would do their fly-by’s, I was perfectly situated to track and pan each plane as it flew by. The E-M5 has an EVF (electronic viewfinder), as opposed to the standard optical viewfinder found on DSLR’s like my Canon 60D. While the EVF on the E-M5 is very good, I noticed a problem using it while trying to track and pan the planes as they quickly flew by. The shutter was firing and I was panning, but the EVF couldn’t seem to keep up. The image in the EVF seemed to stutter, and I’d lose track of the plane. Since I couldn’t consistently keep track of the plane, I’d sometimes end up with pieces of it in the frame and not the whole thing. Frustrating to say the least.

There is a lot of chatter online about the inability of the E-M5 to perform continuous auto focus for fast action. This seems especially true for those involved in capturing birds in flight. One of the techniques used as a work around is the set the camera for single focus, using just one central focus point, pick a spot where the action will happen and press the shutter when your subject enters the frame. Actually I used a modified version of this, tracking and panning the action as best as I could and once the focus locked on I’d press the shutter. I’d capture a few frames and even with the stuttering EVF, I’d try to keep up with the plane, pick another spot, lock the focus on and capture a few more frames.

Compared to my Canon 60D, this is a very clunky way to work. It seems strange that my DSLR 60D, with all of its moving parts does a better job with this type of photography than my high tech E-M5. I don’t think the 60D was much better at locking focus, but it’s defiantly much better at keeping the image in view (optical viewfinder) and continuous auto focus.

There is one thing that I think the E-M5 is equal too or even a little better than the 60D, and that is image quality. Of the shots that I did capture  that were acceptable, I was very pleased with how clean they were. The color and contrast were very nice out of the camera, and even better when adjusted in Photoshop.

And now, here are the results:

Cable Airshow, Olympus OM-D E-M5

Cable Airshow, Olympus OM-D E-M5

Cable Airshow, Olympus OM-D E-M5

Overall, I’m pleased with my results, difficult as they were to achieve. And there’s some good news, I don’t have to wait until May for the Chino Planes of Fame Airshow, there’s a new airshow happening in March and the Blue Angels will be there! Its called the LA County Airshow, here’s the link – I’ll be attending and brining both my Canon 60D and E-M5.

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