Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wings over Camarillo 2014 pre-show

Last Friday I spend the afternoon at the Camarillo airport near Los Angeles, where the fine folks of the Commemorative Airforce (CAF) were preparing for their yearly airshow. 

Curtiss C-46 China Doll at Camarillo, CA, USA

The CAF is a non-profit organisation, dedicated to restoring, preserving and showing historical aircraft all over the US and Canada. Originally known as the Confederate Airforce, the CAF has several "wings" with the main South Californian one being based at Camarillo.

Curtiss P-40N Warhawk at Camarillo, CA, USA

As I wasn't able to attend the show during the weekend, I did the next best thing and flew a single-engine DiamondStar DA40 into Camarillo the day before. Photography wise it turned out to be a great, as unlike during the air shows days itself, there were no restrictions on where one could shoot from.

Pre-airshow days come with a great atmosphere, which I remember from my days helping to organise the airshow at my home airport Moorsele in Belgium. 

P-51A Mustang at at Camarillo, CA, USA
There were a fair amount of rare birds at Camarillo, such as the one and only flying P-51A Mustang flown in from Chino, CA.

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this P-63A King Cobra that flew in from the Palm Springs Air Museum,

A6M Zero at Camarillo, CA, USA
and an original Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero based at Camarillo. I especially like the contrast between the American "Budweiser" advert and the Japanese aircraft. Let's all be friends now!

World Record altitude breaker Long-Ez, Camarillo, CA, USA
It wasn't all warbirds however, with a fair amount of GA and Experimental aircraft like this Rutan Long-EZ ex altitude record holder. And yes, as an ex-owner of the Rutan aircraft, the Canard designs are still very close to my heart!

All images were shot with the Fujfilm X-T1, with either the 55-200 or the 10-24 Fujinon lens.

C-47 duo at Camarillo, CA, USA

More photography at Camarillo can be found here.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Pic(k) of the week 35: Two sunsets in 24 hours

As a long haul airline pilot, being jet lagged while flying around the globe is clearly one of the negatives of the job. There are however moments that make it all worth getting out of bed on the back side of the body clock...

One of these happened yesterday, while I flew a +15 hour flight from Los Angeles to Dubai. The mid afternoon Californian sun was still quite high above the horizon, as we climbed to our initial cruising altitude of 33000 feet. As the days are slowly getting shorter in the Northern Hemisphere and with the help of flying Eastbound, the day was quickly coming to an end as the sun set over Baffin island (top image).

Two sunrises in 24 hours

As we crossed the Northern tip of Greenland, barely a few hours later, a new day was born. Cruising along at 900km/h (550mph), it would be a short one. 

As the sun was dipping below the horizon for the second time over Iran, a huge thunderstorm created an amazing shadow on the opposite site (bottom image). 

Image details:
Top image:
FUJIFILM X-T1 with XF55-200 lens
ISO 1600, 55mm, f3.5, 1/20s
RAW development in Lightroom 5.6

Bottom image:
iPhone 5S
ISO 50, 4.12mm, f2.2, 1/30s
Lightroom 5.6 for noise reduction

Print module in Lightroom was used to make the above diptych

Remember: "A photograph is often looked at, seldom looked into" - Ansel Adams.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pic(k) of the week 34: The new flying toy - 1954 Piper Super Cub

End of July, in my Pic(k) of the week 30: "The little yellow aeroplane"I explained how I recently have enjoyed going back to the grassroots of aviation, in flying a vintage 1950's era aeroplane... 

Less than three weeks later, I'm now one of the proud co-owners of the Piper Super Cub that I talked about in the blogpost above. 

The aircraft, an ex-Dutch Air Force 1954 Piper L-21A (called PA-18-150 in the civil world), is now based in my home country Belgium. Beside being flown by myself, it will also taken into the skies by its two other owners. The aircraft doesn't look its age, as four years ago, the 60 year old aircraft, has been completely restored.

Just back from flying the new toy around Belgium over the last week, I hardly can get rid of the grin on my face!

I can't remember ever having had a "self-portrait" for my Pic(k) of the week, but since I've pretty much been living and breaching Piper Cub the entire last week, this one needed to be included! 

The new flying toy - 1954 Piper Super Cub

The image above was taken at Moorsele, a 700m grasstrip in the West part of Belgium, where I did my first solo flight in 1987. For me nothing symbolises the "going back to basics" more than what's above!

Back to photography now... While doing some Air to Air photography last Saturday from the Cub, it became clear again how valuable a compact size system like the Fujfilm X-T1 is. Taking a full frame Nikon or Canon DSLR in a confined space like the Super Cub cockpit, would have been very different! 

Image details:
Fujifilm X-T1 with the 18-55 Fujinon lens
ISO 200, 23mm (35mm full frame equivalent), f6.4, 1/300s
RAW development in Lightroom 5.6
Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 for contrast and color enhancement

Remember, "You haven't seen a tree, until you've seen its shadow from the sky" - Amelia Earhart


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pic(k) of the week 33 : Spotlight on 1931 Travel Air biplane

Vintage aircraft have always been high on my Aviation Photography shooting-list and as some of you might know, I'm now the proud shared owner of a 1954 Piper Super Cub.

The aircraft below is not our “Cub" but a 1931 British registered visiting Travel Air 12W, parked at my local home airport in Belgium (Kortrijk-Wevelgem) for the night

When the sun peaked briefly through the clouds a few hours before sunset, I immediately framed few shots with my Fujifilm X-T1. Less than 30 seconds later, and this great moment was all gone. 

Spotlight on Travel Air 12 Q/W at Kortrijk-Wevelgem, Belgium

Image details:
Fujfilm X-T1 with the weather sealed 18-135mm
ISO 400, 25mm (38mm full frame equivalent), f5.6, 1/500s
RAW file imported and edited in Lightroom 5.6
Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 for Pro Contrast and local detail enhancement

Next Saturday, I’m hoping to fly our Piper Cub to the Oldtimer fly-in at Schaffen-Diest, Belgium. Needless to say that my lightweight Fujifilm camera bag will be coming along as well!


Friday, August 8, 2014

Fujifilm XF 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 Fujinon lens test (PART 2)

In Part 2 of the Fujifilm XF 18-135mm lens review, we will have a look at some real-life images shot over the last few weeks... If you missed PART 1, please click here.

The camera used was a Fujifilm X-T1; a perfect companion for this new weather resistant lens! For most of the shooting I had the new MHG-XT grip on the camera, giving it a perfect balance.

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In order to test the weather resistance, I took the lens into a windy and very hot Dubai desert...

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And to the very wet, Niagara Falls... At some stage both camera and lens were soaking wet, but didn't miss a click!

Mounted on a lightweight MyFoto tripod, I photographed the Toronto Skyline at night... 
Toronto skyline during the blue hour

And shot some modern high-rises during the day...
Toronto highrises 1

I even pointed it out of an open aircraft window, while overflying the Field of Flanders in Belgium...
Castle of Rumbeke, Belgium

Lastly, even though not a Macro lens, it focuses pretty close for a zoom as can be seen in this shot of the little 27mm pancake lens.


I personally see the new 18-135 lens being perfect for two types of photographers;

1/ The beginner photographer, who wants a do it all with one single lens. Even though the size of the lens is considerable larger than the 18-55 kitlens, the extra range might come in handy. Combine this with an weather sealed X-T1 body and you have a great "starters kit".

2/ The outdoor-adventure photographer, who works in an environment that is not suitable for frequent lens changes (e.g. water, blowing dust and sand). As this is presently the only weather resistant lens, this is a no-brainer. 

Desert Rose, Dubai

Hmmm. As I'm neither 1/ or 2/ above, logic would say no... However I must say that the lens would come in very handy for two types of my photography;

a/ Aerial photography; a quick browse in my image library, shows that most of my aerial images are indeed shot in the 18-135mm range. As changing lenses while doing aerial photography is to be avoided, the lens might be the way to go.

b/ Air to Air photography (i.e. photographing aircraft from another aircraft); especially when shooting other propellor aircraft, one uses relatively long shutter speeds, to avoid freezing the prop. This is often achieved by using a mid aperture in the f8-f11 range. Given the slower shutter speeds, the 5 stop Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) would be a great help when shooting out of a moving aircraft!

Niagare Falls Panorama

As always is the case for a lens with a broad focal range like the 18-135, it is all about compromises; it does a lot of things OK, but nothing 100% perfect... No criticism but pure photography physics! 

Is the 900,-USD price tag too high? Well one obviously is paying for the weather sealing, but a 600 to 700,-USD range would have put it more in line with the exciting zooms like the great 18-55 and 55-200. The fact that unlike other XF lenses, it is manufactured in China instead of Japan, doesn't help to defend its somewhat higher price point neither...

DISCLAIMER: Fujifilm Middle East is NOT paying me for this review. I buy all of my own gear and what is above is how I personally think about the lens

Happy X-shooting,