I was working through some RIAT photos of the Patrouille de France display. I had some tight shots of the first four jets as they took off and, as I looked closer at them, I was confused as to why two of the jets had a more nose high attitude than the other two. Since they are taking off on formation, I figured that they should look the same.
A closer look at the images and it seems that the flap settings of the jets vary. The nose high aircraft seem to have less flap – hence their need for a higher angle of attack – than the other two jets. I have been trying the think why they would adopt this approach. With all jets accelerating together and climbing together, I had imagined that they would all be in the same configuration. I wonder whether there is something to do with the outwash from the nearby jets that requires a different configuration but I haven’t come up with anything conclusive. I throw it out to the aero engineers that read this to propose your ideas as to why. If any of you know anyone in the PdF, feel free to ask them instead!
One of the things that I was glad to get when I last changed camera bodies was the ability to have exposure compensation while shooting in manual mode. You might wonder why this is a useful thing to have but I was shooting a couple of time recently when it was useful. Sadly, the first time I didn’t think to use it. The second I did though. This is the result of shooting in dark conditions when the light levels are changing quite a bit.
The problem in the first case was that I was shooting in aperture priority mode. The light was low, so I went to auto ISO to allow it to adjust. The camera looks to get a shutter speed that is related to the focal length of the lens you are using. I was shooting a landing aircraft and, when I was out at the full length of the zoom, it kept shutter reasonably high. However, as the plane got closer and I zoomed out, the camera dropped the shutter speed down which meant the panning resulted in a lower keeper rate. I should have foreseen this and I was annoyed with myself.
The next time, I thought through the issue a bit better. A gray sky meant that I needed to have some positive exposure compensation. I went to manual mode, set the shutter speed and aperture that I wanted but included the exposure compensation. Then I set auto ISO. Now I had the ISO adjusting to get the combination I wanted while including exposure comp. On my old bodies, this was not possible. The result was the exposure I wanted with ISO adjusting throughout the sequence. When conditions are not great and changing quickly, this is an approach I can highly recommend.
On previous trips to Red Flag I have taken pictures of the departing B-1Bs as they fly overhead. The burners are really impressive and definitely worth getting a shot of from below. However, having done this a few times, I wanted to try something different. The fighter get out of burner very quickly after they get airborne. They are in mil power for ages before they get to you on the centerline. I wanted to see what you could get from the side a lot closer in so Paul agreed to try something different.
We ended up shooting a lot of side on stuff of departures for the night launch. Unfortunately, we didn’t appreciate just how dark it is at Nellis at night. We had a good moon so we were hopeful that there might be some residual light. It turns out that this is not the case. Even close in, the fighters are out of burner. The tankers and the E-7 went out and I got some shots but they were a struggle, event making use of the best high ISO capabilities of the cameras. The B-1s did show up okay but I still didn’t do as well as I thought I should have.
I learned a bit about the performance of the cameras. I was shooting at super high ISO settings with the camera wide open. However, as I review the shots, I realize the camera was behaving in a way that I had not anticipated. I was shooting in aperture priority with some negative exposure compensation dialed in. As I look through the shots I see that the camera would start out with a dark shot, gradually boost the exposure and then go dark again. I would review the shots and see one that was looking good but know that the next would be dark.
When shooting in such limited light, the shutter speeds are very low and the number of lost shots is high. Therefore, you can’t afford to have the exposure be bad. I don’t know how many shots I lost since they may not have been sharp anyway but I cut down on my opportunities. In future, I need to have all of the exposures be acceptable in order to maximize my opportunities. Therefore, I think I shall have to go fully manual on everything for these shots. Set ISO up high and then go to manual aperture and shutter speed. I will still lose a lot of shots but at least I can focus on dealing with my handholding technique rather than worrying about how the camera is metering a dark night. It’s not too reasonable to expect the camera to get that right every time. It is a pretty extreme case!
I have a pretty well defined routine for importing and processing my images in Adobe Lightroom. I have presets for importing images that put them in the right folders, apply copyright information and apply development presets. I can then edit from there as I go. One of the settings I have set as a default is the application of the lens correction settings. This setting deals with any natural vignette in the lens as well as some distortion. Occasionally this can be tricky if you have something close to the edge of a wide lens and it gets slightly chopped by the correction.
I discovered a more extreme version of this while processing some shots from the Lick Observatory. I had taken my 8-15mm fisheye zoom with me as I thought there might be some use for it in the telescope buildings. It turned out to be a good thing to have. When I first had the lens, Adobe had not created a profile for the lens so the shots came in uncorrected with the fisheye look I expected. More recently, Adobe have created a profile for this lens. It was added in one of the updates and, since I don’t use the lens all of the time, I hadn’t noticed.
When I was going through the shots, I noticed the wide shots had some strange distortion at the edges. I was perplexed by this and also wondered where the circular fisheye shots were because I was sure I had taken some. Only then did I realize that these were those shots and the corrections were being applied. Here are some examples of the before and after with the correction to give you a idea of what the transformation is. A pretty dramatic change. I might make use of this sometimes but I shall also have to remember switching this off when shots with this lens are involved.