USAF Thunderbirds show ????Please Help

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by STICKMAN, May 28, 2008.

  1. STICKMAN

    STICKMAN TPF Noob!

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    I will be attending a US Airforce Air Show practice session this upcoming friday. So I guess my question is I will be using my new Nikon D-40. I have the 18-55lens and the 55-200vr lens. What do you recommend for this type of shot? As stated I am brand new to the DSLR so please explain for me. This is a chance for me to get some cool shots of the Thunderbirds so I don't want to mess up. I will be escorted so hopefully I can get some better pictures.

    I also have a Cir. Pol. filter and a UV filter should I use these? It is suppose to be warm and sunny that day.
     
  2. Alfred D.

    Alfred D. TPF Noob!

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    Hi again, STICK, best shots are of course the aerials: planes turning tight figure 8's, etc. But lighting them can be a prob. Advise to meter a plane when it's still on the tarmac, zoomed in, filling the frame, in the full sun. Set the shutter speed at 1/500th and note the aperture. Switch to manual, lock in those values, watch the plane take off and then take your series of photos while it is performing.

    CP is probably not very useful. It'll cost you 2 stops shutter speed and ups the contrast even higher, when there is most likely already far too much of that. And although it enhances blues and greens, it considerably mutes reds!
    (And CPs are plain awful on skintones, but that's another thread).
    A UV filter is a good idea. No exposure penalty and there's a high probability of excess UV light at an airshow. So I would probably use one too.

    Have fun!
     
  3. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I would set up with the 55-200 on your camera and put your camera into Shutter Prioity, set for between 1/500 and 1/1000 (depending on what conditions allow). This will ensure that your shutter speed doesn't drop too low to freeze the action or handhold a longer or lens.

    As far as your CPL, that will really enhance the colours if the conditions are right. You want to have the sun at 90 deg to the axis of the lens, and lower in the sky is better.

    I always leave a UV filter on (Yes, I know opinions vary on this), as it makes cleaning the front element much easier, and offers some protection to the lens.

    Edited to add: Recommend using spot metering for aircraft in flight.
     
  4. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    I wouldn't lock in a manual exposure because depending on what direction of the sky you're shooting at your exposure could be all over the place. I definitely would use spot metering (or center weighted) though, along with a very fast shutter speed of 1/500 or 1/1000s or more. Turn on Auto ISO so that it'll automatically up the ISO for you as needed. And don't worry about stopping down the lens at all for optimal sharpness. The 55-200VR is sharp wide open at 200mm from what I've seen, so f/5.6 is fine. I wouldn't use a circular polarizer - will probably rob too much light away, but experiment and see if it'll work at all. Unfortunately you'll probably find 200mm to be a bit short once they're in the air unless they get really close. On amateur budgets, 70-300's work better for this. The USAF airmen that are actually tasked with photographing the Thunderbirds use 300 and 400mm high speed primes with and without teleconverters to really get close to them when they're in the air.
     
  5. Snyder

    Snyder TPF Noob!

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    I prefer to be up in the air taking photos of the aircrafts. Though if I was on the ground I would use a long fast lense around 300-400mm range. I will be photographing the Thunderbirds later this summer, but I will mainly be focusing on getting photos of the crowd interaction more so than the actual thunderbirds.
     
  6. STICKMAN

    STICKMAN TPF Noob!

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    Ok, First thanks to all who replied. Next I will put it out there I am dumb to this stuff. I thought I knew more then I do!!!! Getting this camera has made me realize I need classes and fast....

    However in simple terms Shutter speed 4000 is fast or slow?? I see everyone saying use 1/500 or 1/1000 for the air show.

    Please folks bear with me here.

    More ?s to come im sure. I hope to get down to my local little skydiving airport later to practice a bit before going on base tomorrow

    I am trying using shutter priority now

    Also should I use single shot or continuious for this type of set
     
  7. Alfred D.

    Alfred D. TPF Noob!

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    Shutter Speed nomenclature is in fractions of a second, STICK. So 1/4000th of a second is 4 times as fast as 1/1000th of a second.

    In an airshow there will be 1) a lot of light (if the weather holds), and 2) fast moving subjects: planes at 100 knots and faster. You need a fast shutter speed to be able to use a relatively large aperture in a lot of light. And you need a fast shutter speed in order to 'stop' the fast moving planes in your image, or you will get unsharp streaks where there was a plane.

    That's up to you. Try both and see which works best for you.
    If you shoot continuously you will of course have many many more exposures to wade through when you do the editing. The chance that there's a good shot among them is also greater, though.
     
  8. jdh313

    jdh313 TPF Noob!

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    I also have the D40, just got it 3 weeks ago.
    I agree about shutter priority mode, that is what i use most of the time, although a slightly lower speed could allow an interesting blur of the back of the plane as they were to fly overhead.
    Use continuous shooting because if you only want one picture then release the button, but if you want more then hold it down.
    My two cents!!!
     
  9. DerekSalem

    DerekSalem TPF Noob!

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    Speaking as someone in the USAF and and someone who has shot Airshows (last years is in my Flickr) I'd say get the longest lens possible, keep on burst, meter it a little dark (since you'll be getting a lot of bright blue) and get it fast. No Cpl would be better. Learn to trail smoothly and manual or AI Servo focus
     
  10. scorpion_tyr

    scorpion_tyr No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Use the 55-200 unless you're going to be REALLY close. Once they get in the air the planes are going to be a lot smaller than you think. The thunderbirds also do their tricks a little farther from the audience than others because of the risks. I usually try to shoot airshows with at least a 300mm, but I also like to be farther back and higher up than the crowds.

    You said it was going to be a practice. That gives you a really good oportunity. Sometimes they practice longer than their actual show is. Also pay close attention to the steps and timing of their tricks. If they repeat a trick or you shoot at the actual air show you'll know just when to take the shot to capture a good trick.
     

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