Saturday, March 13, 2010

Round Robin: Look! Up in the Sky!

I had big plans for Round Robin Challenge: Look Up/Look Down, as suggested by Steven of (sometimes)photoblog -- vague plans, but big ones nonetheless. I was going to go to the park with the dogs and stare up tree trunks. I was going to go back to 5151 E Broadway and photograph it from the base of the tower, and then ride the elevator to the top and look down from there. I was going to drive to Babad Do'ag Vista on Mount Lemmon and look down upon the city. And when all that fell through because I had to work, I was going to photograph my dogs from above and below. The dogs didn't like that idea much.

From Air Show

But then I remembered! Last weekend was the air show! Every March since I got here in 1986, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base has hosted an air show. Calle Mumble is only a few miles from D-M, so we're on the flight path for many of the planes and jets as they soar and swoop and make their turns, setting up for whatever dramatic stuff they're doing over the base itself. And most years, I make some attempt to photograph the tiny, speedy, airplane-shaped dots as they cross the sky.

Most of the photos I'm posting tonight are not reduced in size at all, if you look at them directly on Picasaweb. (Click on any shot to see these full size versions). Compared to the overall size of each unedited photo, the planes are barely more than a speck of darkness against the blue. So what I've done is crop each photo really severely. You lose a bit of the perspective, the essential up-ness, but really, where else will you find a jet in motion, except by looking up?

I have to say that by and large, I was pleased with what my camera managed to capture. With the possible exception of a single Blue Angels shot from a few years ago, I think this is the first time I've seen the cockpit of a moving jet in one of my photos.

Finding the jets as I looked up into the sky was generally a real challenge. The engine roar echoed off the buildings long before anything was visible, and it was often hard to tell in what direction to look. Then when they did appear, they were generally fast and far away. Can you even see the plane in this picture?

Plus the sun was in my eyes, every time, so I could not frame a shot by looking at the viewscreen. I just had to point and hope! Generally I ended up with the jets in the lower right corner of the image. But here's one that was closer than most of the flybys that afternoon. I just managed to get part of it in the frame before it was gone.

Don't ask me to identify any of them, but these planes came in several shapes and sizes, sometimes more than one kind in the same grouping.

At some point I fiddled with the settings on the camera, after which I found it almost impossible to photograph the jets at all. The camera wanted to take its time focusing - which meant that it refused to take a photo until that fast, blurry thing was out of the frame. I got a lot of pictures of empty sky after that. Unfortunately, I don't know exactly what the settings were before I experimented with them. This was one of the last shots I got that actually had planes in them.

Now let's go see whether other Robins have been looking up, or down, or both!

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Sherrie said...

Hi Karen,
Awesome shots of those jets. My little point and shoot camera can't get them as they move so fast. Have a great day!

Sherrie's Stuff

Linda said...

Great pictures of the air show. In April there is one that passes right over the top of my house, too---I love to take a chair out into the front yard and sit and watch!

Carolyn Ford said...

I love air shows! You did get some great shots up above!

Carly said...

Hi Karen :)

Nice idea, photographing the air show! Goodness, it has been a long time since I have been to one. I still remember going to see the Blue Angels with my father. It was amazing, but loud! LOL. I like a lot of the shots you have here, but the second to last one got me. For some reason... don't laugh... it reminds me of a shark! LOL. Ok, even I am laughing, but it does. A hammerhead shark. LOL. Neat pics!


maryt/theteach said...

Hi Karen, I tried taking shots of planes coming in to land at a nearby airport. It WAS indeed hard to frame them in the sky. But you did a good job! :)

Sandy said...

Great looking up photos Karen! Jets are very hard to photograph and the sky is wonderfully blue! Good job!

Monica said...

Air shows are challenging to photograph for all the reasons you stated! But, they certainly are fun to watch and challenge us with the camera. I enjoyed your entry, thank you.

Gattina said...

Beautiful shots ! I attended an air show for the first time last year at the English coast. It was amazing !

BTW you always could go up in the Atomium but last year it has been renovated and it is really worthwile to visit.
If you want to have a look just go

Suzanne R said...

For some reason, I'm just getting red X's instead of most of the pictures in this and the entry afterwards. I like the shots I can see, though. Very nice!