One of my favorite things to attend is an airshow. This year's NAS Oceana Airshow was my first as a Veteran and it certainly brought back a lot of great memories on top of providing an opportunity to capture some great photos.
Last year I shared a blog post, My Airshow Photography Adventure & 4 Tips to Help You get Better Airshow Photos. This year, I thought I'd add a few more tips to getting great airshow photos including some post-processing tips to help you out. More on those tips later though.
As airshows go, NAS Oceana's Airshows never fail to impress, and in my opinion the atmosphere is much more relaxed then the airshows at MCAS Miramar in San Diego, CA. Perhaps that's why I enjoy Oceana's airshow so much more than the others I've been to. From the ease of parking, quick and efficient security checks getting into the show, to the atmosphere of the show, ease of viewing the flyers and static displays, and finally the amenities (water stations, porta-potties, food, etc), NAS Oceana has it all setup like a well oiled military operation which it is.
Enough on that though, on to the photos.
US Navy Blue Angels
The Blue Angels are always a class act. Whether it's the ground crew talking with the crowd and handing out freebies to the kids or the pilots performing, and their ability to adjust to changing weather conditions, it's hard not to be impressed by them.
Saturday's (Sep 22, 2018) weather changed from a sunny day to super cloudy as the day went on, and as a result the Blue Angels had to adjust and fly a lower show than they'd been practicing. As a photographer this provided the opportunity to get some great photos of them. Simply because clouds provide another interesting and creative factor to add to the drama of a jet in flight!
Here are a few of my photos of the Blue Angel's performance:
If you love the photos, prints are for sale by following the link below:
Other Airshow Performers
While we spent all day at the airshow, I didn't take a lot of photos this year. I spent more of my time walking around and enjoying some family time with my wife and son. I did manage to capture a few other awesome shots of a few of the other performers though.
THE CANADIAN SNOWBIRDS
THE US AIR FORCE F-22 RAPTOR
Photographing airshows can be tough, not only because the aircraft move fast but because you're often shooting into a sky that is brightly lit. Circular-polarizers, neutral density filters, and camera settings can help, but in the end odds are your going to end up doing some post-processing.
Here are a few tips to help you out as you post-process your photos.
TIP #1: Apply Camera and Lens Adaptation Data
This is always the very first thing I do when editing any photo. Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom keep up-to-date information on cameras and lenses and allow you to easily apply the adaptation data. Depending on your lens and camera you may see some significant changes when you apply the data.
TIP #2: Frame and Crop Before You Start Any Major Post-Processing
It can be very difficult to get the framing you really want when photographing an airshow. Framing and cropping before you start any of your major post-processing helps you to decide where and how to focus the viewers attention, as well as provides direction and clarification for any other post-processing you want to do.
TIP #3: Make Your Subject Pop
To often the aircraft can appear dark against the bright sky and the side towards the camera can end up with a lot of shadow. Additionally, depending on the sun's location and the aircraft you could get a lot of highlights that need to be dealt with.
As a starting point, I typically boost the shadows to +100 and kill the highlights to -100. Next I boost the blacks as well as the contrast; often the blacks will go to +100 and contrast will be between +50 and +75. Each image is different, so I adjust them accordingly.
Adding clarity helps to make the image pop as well, and using the dehaze slider in moderation will help darken the background. At this point I often add vibrance and decrease the saturation a little. All of this is done, before I touch the aircraft itself.
My next step is to apply graduated filers, radial filters, and make use of the adjustment brush to bring more life into the aircraft and photo overall. Often these are used to boost shadows and whites, and kill highlights. Kind of vague I know, but each photo is different!
TIP #4: Make Use of Presets
Presets can be your best, or worst, friend. In this case I think they are an amazing tool which can help expedite your work flow, as well as give your images consistency across the edits.
I have a preset folder specifically for temporary presets, presets which I define for a specific photo session. In the case of the airshow photos, I defined and used a few temporary presets. These presets were specific to each aircraft event I photographed. Why? Because lighting changes as the sun moves, and the weather changes as well which also can affect the lighting. So, these temporary presets I define apply the camera/lens adaptation data, and the primary edits (minus the cropping).
TIPS #1-3 APPLIED
Below are the before and after photos of Tips 1-4 applied. You can see the original image wasn't bad, but it didn't pop either. By applying the tips above you can see how the final image comes to life a whole lot more!
Did you find these tips helpful?
I'd love to hear what you think about these tips, as well as your airshow photography adventures. Leave a comment here or feel free to "Get In Touch" with me via the link at the top or bottom of this page.