The main purpose of the visit to El Centro was to shoot still images. I have previously posted some of the shots from outside here and some video from inside here but the real purpose was the stills on base.
Michelle Dee and her team at El Centro are very progressive in their approach to allowing photography on base. They organize regular visits for photographers where it is possible to shoot from right alongside the runway at the LSO shack. This means the aircraft are touching down right beside you and launching past you in close proximity. This provides a chance for some shots that are not the norm.
Such access is quite unusual but the success of these events is hopefully persuading other facilities that it can be done safely. A big part of this is having people on the shoot who understand what is possible and what is not and following those rules. Everyone is ready to self-police as well. Besides, the location is so good, where could you possibly be that would be any better?
Anyway, enough of the description. Thank you again Michelle and team and thanks to Kevin for setting things up from our side. Great to see you again buddy. Here are the pictures.
We were kindly hosted by the team at NAF El Centro for a photocall. I will post later with some of the shots from the visit to the base itself. However, one of the things I wanted to do this time that I learned following my previous visit to El Centro was to shoot more video.
I was still going be predominantly shooting stills but the motion and proximity of the aircraft is hard to appreciate sometimes from a still image (a failing of mine as a photographer of course). Video gives you more of a sense of the activity. Therefore, I took a GoPro with me to the day and mounted it on top of my camera on the hot shoe.
This had the advantage of allowing me to shoot video at the same time as stills. It did have a couple of disadvantages. One is that the sound of the shutter clicking is picked up by the camera on the soundtrack. When the jets are close it isn’t too bad but when they are further away, it becomes more intrusive. Second, the GoPro is fixed at quite a wide angle so it makes everything look a little further away than it is. However, this is an add-on to my normal shooting so both compromises are worthwhile.
I did shoot a small bit of video with one of the SLRs and it probably won’t be hard to spot which bit of film that is when you watch. I didn’t bother with any music since I think the sound of the jets does a pretty good job. Here is the result.
In a previous post, I mentioned that I was heading to NAF El Centro in California for a photo shoot. The main part of the shoot was going to be on the base. It was due to commence at noon. That left a free morning. El Centro has a couple of good locations off base where you can photograph the aircraft and one is better suited to morning shooting since the light is good for departing aircraft and those breaking into the pattern.
I was ready for an early start and got out as the early departures were underway. Not only was this a good spot to shoot from, it was also a good gathering spot for some of us going on base later so it served multiple purposes.
There was a fair amount of morning activity. The majority of traffic was from T-45 Goshawk from NAS Meridian who were deployed to El Centro for training. The local ranges provide opportunities for basic weapons training but other missions as also flown including some field carrier landing practice (FCLP).
Hornets and Super Hornets from the west coast training squadron were also operating and provided a regular stream of departing and arriving traffic. The Canadian forces were also operating Hornets from the base. They tend to depart reasonably straight out and break into the pattern a little early but sometimes come into a good location for shooting. When they are weapons training, though, they always come to the end of the runway to make all weapons safe so we get a good view. They had also brought a C-130 tanker with them which was a nice addition.
A couple of C-2 Greyhounds were practicing their pattern work to mix it up. Helicopter traffic included some AH-1 Cobras from the Marines transiting and a British Army Apache although they stayed well to the south so were not something I could get any shots of.
All of this gave us an idea of what was on base and provided some good shooting opportunities from a different position to that we would get later in the day.