I shot my first air show back in 2008. Since then, I’ve shot several shows. I’ve learned a lot about shooting air shows from the ground. The biggest thing you quickly learn is to open up about a stop or two if you are shooting up into a back-lit sky while trying to shoot jets. Doing so will help with getting the detail you need from the planes themselves. Your raw image will appear to be very low in contrast, but that is easy to fix in post.
Yesterday, Jared Polin from FroKnowsPhoto.com posted some shots on Instagram of the Atlantic City Airshow “Thunder Over The Boardwalk“. His post inspired me to go back and look through my own air show photos. It’s been a year or two since I’ve shot an air show, so I may go to my local air show in Miramar in a few weeks. We’ll see. Here is a (full frame uncropped) shot from Miramar back in 2012.
Caption: Blue Angels – MCAS Miramar Air Show
Artist: Tony Gillilan
Camera: Canon EOS-1D X
Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM, Shot at 400 mm
Exposure: Auto exposure, Shutter priority AE, 1/2,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800, Compensation: +5/3
Keywords: MCAS, MCAS Miramar Air Show, air show, blue angels, miramar, navy, us navy, us navy jets, us navy planes
Date: October 13, 2012 3:52:43PM
Location: Miramar, San Diego, California, United States
Latitude/longitude: 32.874095, -117.133058
I love to shoot air shows. The Thunderbirds never fail to impress me. Jets traveling hundreds of miles per hour past you are very tricky to photograph. I have done it enough times to be able to compose the way I want, and have my shots come out somewhat predictable. If you have ever shot an air show, you know what I am talking about. This first few times, you are just happy to have the jets in your frame at all. It takes a few shows to get good at it. Here is a shot from an air show back in 2008.
Caption:Thunderbirds at the air show “Thunder Over the Empire”
Artist: Tony Gillilan
Camera: Canon EOS 40D
Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Shot at 275 mm
Exposure: Auto exposure, Aperture-priority AE, 1/640 sec, f/7.1, ISO
200, Compensation: +1/3
Keywords: March Air Force Base, Thunderbirds, acrobatic, air show,
airplane, close formation, jet, jets, military, show
Date: May 3, 2008 4:11:45PM
All processing done in Lightroom