Monday, May 15, 2017

PLANES OF FAME AIRSHOW 2017 - Fujifilm Airshow photography

As promised in my Pic(k) of the week 19 blogpost, this is an overview of my visit to the PLANES OF FAME 2017 airshow in Chino, California. It was my first airshow of this years season and one that is very close to my heart!

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

The largest warbird show in the US, almost got cancelled last minuted because of legal action against the show organizers by another Aircraft museum (no, I won't name you and give you credit!) based in Chino. While another court hearing is scheduled for September, I sincerely hope this wasn't the last show at the Chino Municipal airport! 

For me the show started before sunrise on Sunday May 7 as I had purchased a "sunrise pass", allowing access to the airshow grounds at 05.30am. Unfortunately grey skies with some occasional drizzle dominated the first few hours of the morning making the 90,-USD pass not that valuable this year; but this is obviously nothing the organizers have control over! 

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

While the Planes of Fame airshow is a "warbird" show it is not your typical airshow with military jet teams and aerobatic acts. Pretty much the only modern equipment on the site were two brand-new F-35 Lightning II jets from the USAF. The largest number of warbirds were from the World War II era, but also Korea and Vietnam had a good representation. 

If you are in the LA area and interested in warbirds, make sure to visit the Planes of Fame museum at the Chino airport all year round, as this year is its 60th anniversary. Click here to visit my museum gallery. 

Unfortunately, this year was the first time its founder Ed Maloney wasn't present at the announcers stand as he passed away just after last years show and was celebrated in a very nice way, during opening of the flying display.

Just like other years, there were at least a handful of the "only flying examples of the type in the world", at the event. 

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

To name just three; above is the only flying Zero A6M with the original Japanese engine; also check out Pic(k) of the week 19: Zero reflection.

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

Another one-of-a-kind is the museums Northrop N-9M Flying Wing, which unfortunately now carries some "sponsorship decals"; something that doesn't belong on a warbird if you ask my opinion!

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

The third one is the Seversky 2PA, also called the AT-12 Guardsman it is the only flying example in the world! 

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

Before the flying part of the show started at 10.40am, all visitors were allowed to freely wonder around the static display of the aircraft parked on the ramp. When photographing aircraft like this, it is always a challenge to exclude barriers and other visual pollution. 

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

Although I didn't bring a full size tripod, I did use a Platypod for those low angle shots. 

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

Another one-of-a-kind was this P-26 Peashooter from the early nineteen thirties. Focussing on details such as the chrome pitot tube here, always makes for more appealing photographs.

Most flying displays, have multiple aircraft featured; always along a certain theme; Naval Aviation, Vietnam area, etc... At any given time there is always at least one aircraft passing by. 

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

The rain that threatened the area most of the day on Sunday, started to eventually come down for the last flight display. The show ended with a heritage flight; a formation of old and new with this time the brand-new F-35 from the USAF in formation with the P-38 Lightning and F-86 Sabre. What a sight!


My present airshow kit consists of the following:

  • Fujifilm X-T2 with Power booster grip (X-T1 as a backup)
  • XF16mm f1.4 for low light and wide angle photography
  • XF-18-135 lens for static and wider shots
  • XF-100-400 lens for airborne shots 
  • 1.4X TC (Teleconverter)
  • Platypod for low angle shots
  • plenty of batteries; I normally take 6 for a full 12 hour shoot

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

CAMERA SETTINGS (for airborne shots)

Just before the show, I had updated my X-T2 to the new 2.0 firmware and was keen to see how it would perform. For my l airborne shots, I had 
the 1.4X TC on the body with the XF100-400 most of the time. When photographing large formations, the 140mm (100x1.4) focal length might not be wide enough, so make sure to plan ahead of time. 

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

My settings for the action stuff with the long glass, were as follows:

  • Performance Boost mode ON
  • Use 325 AF points
  • Manual ISO 
  • Manual Exposure (choosing aperture and shutter speed manually)
  • AF Mode ZONE, use mid or largest zone
  • Continuous autofocus mode (C) 
  • Continuous High (CH) at 8fps (with Power Booster grip)
  • AF-C Custom setting > SET 6 CUSTOM >
    • Tracking sensitivity 2
    • Speed tracking sensitivity 0
    • Zone Area switching AUTO
These are the settings, I used the majority of the time. I've also had relatively good succes with AF-C Custom setting SET 2 Ignore obstacles and continue to track subject. Overall, I'm happy with the firmware 2 update but would like to do some more testing at the Paris airshow next month... 

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

Meanwhile I would like to stress that shooting in Manual mode is essential in order to have consistent exposures. Although I'll shoot aperture priority mode for 95% of my "other" photography, this is different! 

Lastly, something I've written about before, when shooting propellor aircraft, make sure to limit your shutter speed to 1/160s, preferably even 1/125s. This will allow for some prop blur and a realistic image. There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a prop plane with the propellor stopped due to using a too high shutter speed. I know it is hard, but it is the only way. 

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

Photographing jets on the other hand is much easier; shoot at minimum 1/1000s or even 1/2000s for sharp images; here there is no danger of freezing a prop in the middle of the action, as it doesn't have one!

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

The weather was not great this year, but it was still a good show, even with a few visiting aircraft not being able to make it to Chino. I'm really hoping that common sense will prevail and that the final court case will be won; we need to see the Planes of Fame airshow to continue for many years to come!

Planes of Fame airshow 2017, Chino, CA

Hope to see you again at next years Planes of Fame airshow!


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Bjorn

I'm not sure if you remember our earlier email dialogue but I have been following your blog in eager anticipation of an air show update.

Fantastic shots.

Do you find a loss in image quality with the TC attached? I'm guessing that in good light, the loss of a stop is not so much of an issue in terms of needing to bump the ISO up to get the required shutter speed at f8 (widest aperture available at 400mm with TC attached) ?

I have found that the XT2 ISO is not so great when bumped up above 800 when heavily cropping your subject, so I try to shoot at 200 as much as possible.

Like you,most of my shooting is in aperture priority and I exclusively use auto ISO, so I will need to familiarise myself with full manual mode before I visit an air show.

Out of interest, why the manual ISO usage when in manual mode? Is it because auto ISO would confuse the camera if choosing aperture and shutter manually?

I'm very much looking forward to your next update and I hope you have a great time in Paris.

Thanks for sharing.