This post is really a question about what people like in an image and what they are prepared to tolerate. I was at Concrete for the vintage aircraft fly-in up there a while back. This is an event where you get to be very close to the aircraft. I was able to experiment with shutter speeds that were very low to get lots of prop blur. Because the planes are so close, you are not using a long lens and so the low shutter speeds are less likely to cause a problem with camera shake.
However, another problem comes to the fore. Since you are so close, using a low shutter speed and photographing something that is moving past you, you get parallax issues with sharpness on the plane. The different parts of the plane are moving at different speeds relative to you as it passes so, if one part of the plane is sharp, another part is unlikely to be so. The question is, what is acceptable.
I have spoken to friends about this in the past. One or two of them have expressed their unhappiness with having a blurry part of the airframe. Others prefer the blur this allows to the background to emphasize the speed. Some are most bothered about the amount of blur on the prop.
My first instinct with a shot is whether the nose is sharp. For me this is a bit like whether the eye is sharp on a wildlife shot. If the nose is sharp, I can tolerate a blurry back end. But, when the plane is going away from you, the tail is more prominent in the view. In this case, is it better to have the tail sharp than the nose since the blur of the backend will be the thing you see first and will drive your first impression of the image. I would really like to know what people prefer.
This time of year brings with it the opportunity for a number of airshows to be visited. I have found myself attending fewer shows in recent years than had previously been the case. This is a function of the changes that have taken place in the acts that are available to show bookers. There are fewer options available to show organizers, particularly with the reductions that the military has had to make in what it can bring to a show.
This is something that is a fact of life these days but the result is that there is less diversity in what is available at a given show. Moreover, some performers are more focused on certain areas so going to a couple of shows that are close to each other can result in the same acts each time. I am not critical of the individual acts and what they do but I am less inclined to see the same thing at multiple locations, particularly if the locations are difficult from an access point of view or if the lighting makes getting good shots tricky.
The result of this is that I have cut back on the shows that I go to. If I am going to a show, it is because there is something specific that is attending that I am interested in seeing. This means that I am less focused on the bigger events and more interested in some o the smaller locations that, while not having a big lineup, do provide a more intimate environment or something a little different from a performer perspective. This also includes events that aren’t shows in the traditional sense but are fly-ins or similar gatherings that provide an opportunity to be more involved with what is going on.
Having said all of that, I have attended a few shows recently and they will be the subject of upcoming posts. Stay tuned…