Shoreham Air Show 2009

It's the time of year when all you aviation enthusiasts attend one or many of the numerous air shows throughout the world. This coming weekend (Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd August) here in Sussex is the Shoreham Air Show.

Before you you go it's worth spending some making sure that you're prepared for the day. Here are a few hints and tips based on my experiences over the years:
  • Find out where the flight line is before the show - shooting into the sun will make for some stunning silhouettes but not much else. Shoreham is great as the flight line is roughly south west to north east so you get the sun (I'm always the optimist) for most of the day.
  • You don't always need to be in the front row, but it helps if you are. I take a set of short lightweight steps with me, just to give me that little extra height above the rest of the crowd.
The Aerosuperbatics Guinot Skincare Wing Walkers
Yes, this shot is the right way up!
  • Practice your panning technique before you go. The last thing you want to be doing missing shots on the day. Remember, if as I do you use Canon DSLRs as I do, set your focus to AI Servo so the camera follows the action. Stand with your legs slightly further apart than your shoulders for stability. Use the focus points in the viewfinder to aid composition and always give more room in front of the airplane to "fly into" than behind. Keep your finger pressed half down on the shutter button. Follow the action and release the shutter directly in from of you and carry on following the action once you've released the shutter.
  • Set the camera to shoot multiple frames as you're sure now going to get it in one shot!

The Rihn DR107 One Design
during a low-level high speed pass

  • Unless you're trying to create blurry movement shots, go for the highest shutter speed you can and don't be afraid to increase your ISO setting to achieve this. OK, a high shutter speed with freeze a lot of movement including propellors, but as you become more proficient you can drop you shutter speed. You may want to try this (at say 1/15th sec) with some of the slower airplanes such as the bombers or helicopters.
  • Depth of field (DoF) isn't normally an issue when your lens is focused to infinity, but when the action is closer in, you need some DoF so try and balance your shutter speed with a smallish aperture, say f11.
  • Shoot RAW and JPEG. The RAW files are great for extracting detail where the camera has got it "wrong". For example the exposure is for the sky and not the airplane.
  • Use a monopod to support your camera & lense. You'll be surprised how heavy they become after even a short time shooting. I use a Manfrotto carbon fibre Carbon One 449 (now replaced by the 694CX) with a 234RC tilt head with a quick release plate. This gives me the best combination of lightweight and better rigidity than an aluminium monopod.
  • Make sure that all your batteries are freshly charged and your memory cards have been wiped clean.
  • Take plenty of memory cards as there's no point in running out at a critical time. The same applies to batteries!
  • And this is probably stating the obvious - go prepared for all weather. Some of us do live in the UK.
Happy snapping.



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