Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Old Glory

Today is Memorial Day here in the US when we remember those who have fallen in service our country.

Always remember.

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Friday, May 21, 2010



The finale and highlight of ShawFest 2010 was the Thunderbirds' performance. I had hoped to get some nice photographs of them, but was thrilled with some of the ones I actually managed to capture. The photograph above is one of my favorites with the two soloists performing a close pass. I love how the vertical stabilizers are matched together in the shot.

Follow the jump for another shot of these two planes.

Really Close

Now that is close! The aft fins near the rear of the engines look like they are actually staggered together. In other words, they are closer together than the planes would measure vertically. Like I said, it is Close!

Also, look very closely at both planes. They are number 5 and 6. Click the links below the photographs for larger images if you need to. The numbers are painted near the front of the engine intakes. Notice something odd about them? The number 5 plane is the inverted plane in each photograph. See anything odd about his number now? His number is right-side up in each photograph, yet his plane is inverted. He is the lead soloist and inverted in most of his passes past the viewing area. Thus, his number is painted upside down on his plane so that the number is right-side up when he makes one of his many inverted pass in front of the spectators. I thought it was kind of neat when I saw that the first time in these pictures.

Keep shooting.
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thunderbirds' History

Thunderbirds' History

One of the demonstrations later in the afternoon was of a restored jet fighter. I don't remember the name and designation of this particular fighter, but it was one of the first, if not the first, jet fighter in the newly formed US Air Force. This was the first US jet fighter to encounter MiG fighters in the Korean War. It was also the first jet fighter used by the Thunderbirds demonstration squadron.

The picture is an odd shape because I had to crop out someone's head and then even out the composition. There were something like 70,000 visitors at the air show that day. I have quite a few photographs of the backs of people's heads. Still, I like the image. It is kind of a history meets the present sort of thing.

Keep shooting.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010


P-51 Mustang

One of the demonstrations that really catch my attention at airshows are the old warbirds. These are usually reconditioned WWII era fighters and bombers. I am fascinated that some of these planes are still flying and impressed that there are people who care enough for these aircraft to keep them in the air.

This particular plane is the P-51 Mustang which escorted Allied bombers on bombing missions deep into Nazi territories. Thousands of these planes were manufactured for the war effort. Only about a hundred or so are still flying according the airshow's announcer.

Keep shooting.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Our Money's Worth

Warranty Information

When I was walking around the air show's ground displays, I noticed something amusing stenciled on one of the missiles of an F-16. It gave me a chuckle and I had to take a snapshot of it which you see above.

The missile's guidance module seems to be out of warranty. I wonder who fixes it if it doesn't work? ;-)

Keep shooting! (Even if your missiles are out of warranty :-) )

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Out on a Wing


In addition to the military demonstrations, there were also civilian aerobatics. This wingwalker was quite impressive. You couldn't get me to do that ... ever. Fly in an open-cockpit biplane? Sure. It would be fun. Hanging from the wire supports during take-off with no straps holding me in? No way! Climbing around on a fabric covered plane in mid-air where a wrong step will put my foot through the wing? No chance in you know where! It was fun to watch, but I wouldn't want to do it myself.

Keep shooting.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Watch Where You Shoot

Out of the Sun

So, there I was panning my camera as an F-16 made a pass by the viewing area. My camera was happily clicking away when all of the sudden there is a bright flash and the entire world turns to white. Well, it turned white for my eye that was at the viewfinder. The other one was fine. What happened? While panning with the fighter jet, the plane crossed in front of the Sun. To make it a bit worse I had my telephoto lens zoomed all the way out to 300mm. Luckily the shutter blocked the sun and I was able to blink quickly enough to not cause any damage. My eye just watered for a couple of seconds.

However, imagine my reaction when I looked down at my camera's LCD display and saw the Highlight warning blinking on and off revealing the sharp crisp shadow of the F-16 as it emerged out of the sun's disc. Straight of the camera the photograph was this:

Into the Sun!

However, because of the highlight warnings (i.e. the "blinkies" screen) I knew that I might actually have an interesting abstract image. A little processing in Lightroom 2 and I was able to massage the picture up top out of the overblown pixels. I think that shooting Raw files instead of JPEGs might have helped as well since the file recorded more information.

I do not recommend photographing directly in to the sun. However, don't automatically delete what might at first seem to be a "bad" image. There might be a gem hiding amongst those pixels

Keep shooting.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Dropping Flares

One of the demonstrations at ShawFest was an "Airfield Attack" which was conducted by the Air Force's Viper East demonstration team. During part of the demonstration, the fighters dropped flares to illustrate how they would avoid a heat-seeking missile. The photograph above is one I'm quite pleased with as I managed to capture a flare just after it was released and while it was still close enough to illuminate the plane. A little luck and a camera that can capture seven-frames per second really helps in these kinds of situations.

Keep shooting.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

ShawFest 2010

Jumping Over the Moon

This past weekend we went down to visit my parents again. The reason was to go out to Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina for their ShawFest airshow. I have been wanting to photograph an airshow for quite a while now. However, the couple of bases in the state have been sending so many people overseas that they have had to cancel the airshows. As a matter of fact, the Charleston Air Force Base canceled their airshow just a couple of weeks ago. Luckily Shaw AFB was able to have their show this year.

More after the jump.

The airshow itself got started off with the Army's Golden Knights. The picture above shows two of the Golden Knights connected to each other. They are so high up that they appear to be one jumper and one parachute. But, when I zoom in I can make out the second parachute and jumper. A crescent moon was just barely visible through the daylight haze, and I'm glad that I was able to get at least one shot of the Knights in the frame with it.

Here are a few other photographs from the Golden Knights' demonstration:

Opening Event

Golden Knight Overhead

Two Golden Knights Connected Together

More to come from ShawFest 2010 throughout the week.

Keep shooting.
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Friday, May 7, 2010

Spring Fling Reflection

Spring Fling Reflection

When it comes down to it, most street fairs seem to be similar. There's an area/street for vendors, a few fully equipped stages for bands/musicians, an area/street where you find all of the food vendors, smaller performance areas for local organizations, maybe some amusement rides and games for the kids, and a lot of people milling around. Yet, each one is different in some way. Those difference can inform you about the community that is presenting the event. Some street fairs are subdued. Others are rowdy. Some cater to more urban communities, while others serve more rural communities. Some are artsy, others mundane. One thing they all have in common is that is a time for those communities to come together and reacquaint themselves with each other.

Spartanburg's Spring Fling has been a nice, friendly event the past several years that I've visited it. The attendance has been quite good each year, even when the weather hasn't been the best. There has been a lot of things to see and do, plus there is almost always something new each year.

The photograph above is of a vendor's tent reflection in the black/green marble facade of a classic old building downtown. While it is a Spring Fling vendor's tent, it could be a vendor's tent almost anywhere else. Yet, I really could only get this particular shot in Spartanburg because that is where this beautiful old facade is located.

I like reflections. They can be so many different things.

Keep your fingers crossed for good weather tomorrow. If it stays nice, I should have something kind of different to show off next week. I'm excited about it. Here's a hint ... "I feel the need. The need for speed!"

Keep shooting

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Thursday, May 6, 2010


Lunch at Groucho's

During Spring Fling we at lunch at Groucho's Deli. Groucho's is a local sandwich shop right on one of the corners of a main intersection downtown. The sandwiches were good, the service was great. It's a very casual kind of place. Kid's can draw on the walls with crayons if they want. All in all Groucho's is a nice place for a quick sandwich and to escape the mid-day heat.

I saw these bills and the menu and immediately thought they made an interesting picture together. Something different, but it's good to be different sometimes. Pixils are free after all.

Keep shooting.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spartan Photo Center

Spartan Photo Center had a couple of tents at Spring Fling. They were selling framed prints, some small photography items, and they were also making digital photography caricatures of people. Additionally, they were handing out our fliers for the Spartanburg Photography Guild meeting tomorrow night. Which reminds me .. the meeting is tomorrow night, Thursday, May 6, from 6-8 pm, at Spartan Photo Center across from Spartanburg's Chapman Cultural Center.

Keep shooting.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Clydesdale Smile

Spartanburg's Spring Fling was once again a fun event. The day was overcast and we did have some showers in the afternoon. However, there was still a lot to do. I did get to see the Budweiser Clydesdales pull their wagon. That was actually when it started to rain, and because of it the horses were packed up and left the festival early after their lap around the block. One of the lead horses seemed to have the whole posing for cameras thing down. He was smiling all of the time when someone pointed a camera at him.

Keep shooting.

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