On any given day, we can find a stunning amount of aircraft photography. From the internet and broadcast news to printed magazines and books. There’s a virtual smorgasbord of military and civilian aircraft to find and enjoy.
Have you ever wondered or just stopped to consider, who’s the person behind the camera? What did they have to do to get that shot? What were they trying to convey to you the viewer? Well, I’m going to try and answer some of those questions for you. I’ve interviewed some amazing photographers in the hopes that I can bring you a little bit into their world. What was their thought process and mind set at the time? The proverbial who, why, when and where. Lets see how this goes….
For my first set I’ve chosen three published photographers. They have worked all across the United states, Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa. One is from the United States and two are from Israel.
Brian Silcox: The Background
“I started shooting regularly in 1971. I was using a Contax Rangefinder and some simple darkroom equipment. While I started documenting WWII fighters in the late 1970’s. It wasn’t until the late 1980’s that I started shooting air to air seriously in order to publish a book on the topic. The book was called, “The Best of the Past : Preserving and Flying Aviation’s Fifty-Year Legacy” and was published by Mach 1, Inc. It was a very “general interest” book on flying and restoring these classic aircraft.”
“To this day, I still enjoy processing the B&W film which I shoot with a variety of medium format and 35mm rangefinders from the 1930’s on up to the 1960’s”
The Shot: Air to Air with the B-25J “Silver Lady”
“From my timeline… It was the Memorial day weekend in May of 1991. The place was the Breckenridge Airshow in Texas. We had waited for the light to soften enough for some evening photos. When the time was right, we launched in Wiley Sanders B-25J “Georgia Mae” with Bill Arnot’s B-25J “Silver Lady” in tow. The flight was cruising at around 170 mph at about 1500 feet. We had the benefit of a low lying cloud layer over the reservoir near the airport, so we decided to fly over it. It was a fairly smooth 30-40 min flight, although, it was very hot that evening. I was in “Georgia Mae’s” waist gunner position wearing shorts and a tee shirt. Once we were in formation I got down to business. Usually, when there was strong lighting from the front, I would shoot with Kodachrome 64. But I had been experimenting with back lighting enough to know that it was a bit like monochrome…. all about the tones, and not so much about color. So when I saw how this flight was unfolding with the cloud tops and the smoke, I sensed this might work. I went with a standard 1/60th shutter, which nets about f9 in the shadows (estimate). I shot two 36 exposure rolls of the the back-lit side of a circle. You could say I got lucky… who knows?”
Amit Agronov: The Background
“Ok. So when I was young, my father was an aviation enthusiast. He would take me to the local airfield to watch the planes as they made takeoffs and landings. This is when I fall in love with aviation. I also always liked to be the guy that controlled the camera during family events. So, when I understood that there was such a thing called aviation photography. I decided to ask for a DSLR camera for my bar mitzva gift (Israeli Jewish boy). From then, at the age of 13 until today, 4 years later, I keep shooting military aviation. mostly aircraft of the Israeli Air Force
My first camera was a Canon 1100D along with two kit lenses. Today I am using two Canon bodies. The 7D Mk II and 5D Mk IV, Together with Canon 100-400 Mk II And 24-105 Mk II, also a 10-18 for ultra wide shots.
One of the key things in photography to my opinion is to know and learn how to use the light that you have, Obviously, the lighting depends on the weather, any weather can completely change the atmosphere in the picture and control the drama.
The Shot: Sun Rey Helicopter
This shot was taken during a rescue demonstration, conducted at the graduation ceremony for the Israeli Air Force Flight academy. I knew that the helicopter was going to fly toward the sun, which was about to go down, when I saw the rays of the sun coming through the clouds. That’s when I decided to try to create a silhouette of the helicopter in the center of the sun. I was lifting the shutter speed, and when the helicopter began to fly, I took a bunch of shots and was lucky that one of them was Located exactly in the center of the rays of the sun .
During my 4 years as an Aviation Photographer I have traveled and shot aviation in exercises and air shows in Belgium, U.K., Greece and Russia. I get the shots published in a couple of magazines and websites. Air Force Monthly, Aviation Weekly, Aviation Classics, Combat Aircraft, Israeli Air Force magazine.
Nir Ben-Yosef : The Background
I’ve been photographing since about 1997, If I don’t count experimenting as a kid… and as an aviation photographer since about 2001 with my first digital camera, for me, Photography is a way to see and express myself, and aviation was always in the family, so it was only natural to combine the two…
I have two camera bodies that I use. The Canon 1D MK IV and my Canon 6D. The 6D is getting old and it needs to be upgraded… As for my lenses, I use a mix of canon glass. The 100-400, 70-200, 24-70, 16-35 are just a few as well as a 1.4 teleconverter.
The Shot: The Desert Fighters
I love this photo! It’s one of my favorite creations. This is one of those photos that was very hard to get. We were higher, in a Fouga CM.170 Magister. Cruising along just above the formation when Major E’ alerted me: ‘3 oclock down’ as he dropped the wing 90 Degrees to the right. I took the shot. I fired five shots on continuous burst. At first I was sure I missed the frame. I didn’t have time to take another burst or check the LCD as Major E’ maneuvered up and away from the formation. A few hours later in the office. I sat there drinking the strongest coffee ever, and smiled, while viewing the shots from that long day of flight photography on my computer. This flight was planned, but naturally I have random opportunities to get the shot.