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Aerial Artistry – Photographing a Twin Beech
October 24, 2020 at 2:00 PM
twin beech 18_.jpg

Setting the Scene – A modified Twin Beech Aircraft on show

At this airshow, there was a modified Twin Beech aircraft. The owner has kept as many original features as possible but has made modifications to enable the plane to fly aerobatics.

The Beechcraft Model 18 is it is properly known has been in production in some form since 1937. Throughout its history, it has served many purposes – both civilian and military. For example, in World War II, it was used as a light transport, for photo-reconnaissance, and as a light bomber. It remains one of the world's most universally used light aircraft.

Today, the Beech 18 is still widely used and there are over 50 different variants of the original design. For example, it is still used by national air forces of Argentina, Brazil, France, the UK, and the US. Due to its amazing history and popularity, I was pleased that such a plane was on display and that I would get the chance to photograph one!

Creating the Composition – Could these weather conditions be any worse?

The airshow was an amazing spectacle, however, the weather wasn't great. Firstly, throughout the day, the sky was flat and dull. There were numerous clouds and everything look grey. For photography, this can often be worse than rain. This is because light from the sky helps create shadows and contrast and gives subjects extra depth.

Also, the smoke from the various planes hung thick in the air which made visibility poor. Nonetheless, I had my trust Nikon D850 with me, and my reliable Nikon 70-200mm telephoto lens. The aim was to capture shots of the planes and refine my TV/burst-mode skills.

For this type of photography, using shutter priority mode, or burst shooting mode is essential. Even when the planes perform their low passes, they are still traveling incredibly quickly. If you tried to use manual mode, or AV mode, you simply wouldn't be able to capture the planes in focus.

Using shutter priority mode, I could set a faster shutter speed to ensure the planes were captured without any motion blur. Also, using burst shooting mode would allow multiple shots to be taken in succession. This increased the likelihood that I would get a clean and in-focus photo.

It was tricky, and the lighting conditions and weather made it difficult. However, as you can see, I managed to get some fantastic photos. Don't let this fool you – there was a host of terrible photos too, but that's the beauty of a digital camera. You can take hundreds of photos without using your SD storage – as long as one of them looks good, job done!

What Makes This Photo Stand Out?

I am immensely proud of this photo due to the poor weather conditions, and the various obstacles I had to overcome to get it. That’s often what you remember most as a photographer. Not the photo itself, but what you had to do to obtain it. The lighting conditions were poor, the sky was relatively dull, and the smoke trails from the planes made it incredibly difficult.

Regardless, I manage to capture this amazing twin Beech in all its glory. The plan itself looks sharp, and you can see some excellent details on the winds and engines. Also, the contrast of the bright red color of the plane, against the relatively muted colors of the background is fantastic. It makes the plane pop and emphasizes its position in the sky.

The background motion blur against the relatively sharp focus of the plane also works great. This enhances the sense of movement and you can tell from this how quickly the plane is flying. I like this as it adds action and danger to the photo. You can also glimpse the smoke trails from the engines too. Overall, this photo was tough to get and certainly one of the more challenging shots I have taken. However, the end result was worth it, and shows what you can create with a little perseverance!

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