Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 30: NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY FROM ABOVE - "Hooge Platen", Netherlands

Over the Summer months, my aerial photography is always on a high... Flying my 1954 Piper Super Cub airplane, plays a big role in this!

In the recent past, I've blogged quite extensively about my aerial photography; camera settings, favorite subject matter, tips and much more; click here to check out my May 15 post if you haven't done so earlier.

On a recent trip in my little yellow vintage plane, to the Northern part of the Netherlands and Germany, I overflew an interesting nature reserve which was worth making some images of.

"Hooge Platen" (High Plates), in Zeeland (southwestern tip of the Netherlands) is not a very well known reserve, as one is not allowed to go inside it. Basically situated on a large sandbar in the middke of the Westerschelde (estuary of the river Scheldt), twice a day it almost completely disappears during high tide. The exception is the part in the image below, called "De Bol" which normally remains above the waterline and is a perfect habitat for nesting birds.

The interesting patterns of the small creeks and the details of the birds, is what made the image below stand out to me!

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF18-135 lens
  • ISO 640, 1/1250s, f8.0, 46mm 
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC
  • Nik ColorEfex pro with Color Contrast filter

When it comes to flying, Nature reserves should always be treated respectfully; especially when doing Aerial photography. Typically, there will be a minimum overflight height of at least 1000 to 1500ft (300-500m) but it is sometimes even higher; respect it! As drone photography over these is likely to be restricted as well, this is a prime reason I'm still doing "classic" aerial photography using an aircraft or helicopter! On top of that, is just so much fun! 

Over the years, I struggled to know where to best place my aerial photography images in my online galleries. Is it Travel, Landscape or Aviation photography? I've finally given up and allowed them to be stand on their own as they have now become a substantial part of my photographic work! 

Check out my best aerial photography work in the Aerial-Portfolio and a much larger group of images in my Aerials section in the main gallery part of the site. 

Remember: "The wonders of nature are endless" - Walt Disney


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 29: FOKKER DR.I TRIPLANE - MEAUX AIRSHOW 2018

Sunday June 24th, I attended the Fete Aérienne du Centenaire 2018 at Meaux, just east of Paris as both a airshow participant (static display) and aviation photographer. In order to really appreciate the event the best we spent the night camping under the wing of our vintage Piper Super Cub which we flew in on Saturday! 

2018, marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I; because of the great number of casualties, often referred to as the "Great War"; an estimated 16 million people left there lives during the 1914-1918 period! That is 50% more than the total population of my home country Belgium or the UAE in which I currently reside.   

The third edition of the airshow held at the beautiful grass strip of Meaux (France), brought in a number of World War I airplanes (mostly replicas) and attracted a large number of reenactors from most countries involved in the war.

The fact that most of those reenactors take there roles very serious, makes for  great photo opportunities! The one below of a Fokker DR.I triplane and a "German" officer is a prime example of this!

The Fokker DR.I Triplane is close to my heart as it was first delivered in 1917 to a German occupied airport very close to where I'm from in Western Belgium; Markebeeke airport. Less than a week later, World War I ace Manfred von Richthofen shot down his first of many aircraft in the Triplane. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF18-135 lens
  • 1/160s, f11, ISO 200, 29mm
  • Lightroom CC  for Raw development
  • Photoshop CC to clone out some minor distractions not part of a 1917 scene
The gallery of all images shot at the 2018 Meaux airshow, can be found here.

Remember: "The murder of a man is still murder, even in wartime" - Manfred von Richthofen.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 28: PODERE BELVEDERE on a misty morning - Val D'Orcia, Italy

End of May, I spend a week on a landscape photo-adventure in Tuscany; a paradise for landscape photography. After some delay due to extensive other travels, I finally got around editing all of my keeper images! 

Likely one of the most photogenic places in Tuscany is the Podere Belvedere, a beautiful house on a small hilltop just outside San Quirico  in Val d'Orcia; probably the most photographed house in Italy . 

Going on a landscape photography trip when the days are the longest, means "early wake-up calls"; when I say early, I mean 04.30am the latest! Even though I'm not an morning person (prefer sunset shoots), I did consistently force myself to be at location before sunrise; rewarding it was!

While the Val d'Orcia region in Tuscany is known for its great foggy mornings, several people confirmed to me that end of May might be a bit late... Well I must have been extremely lucky as on two out of the three mornings the valley was filled with morning fog. 

The image below of the Podere Belvedere, was taken in the middle of a large field full of Tuscan poppies. Beside the great red flowers it was unfortunately also full of landscape photographers! So much for getting there early... With a bit of creative framing, I however was able to come up with a few interesting images. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-H1 with the XF50-140 f2.8 lens
  • ISO 200, 59mm, 1/15s, f16
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC Classic
  • Photoshop CC for Focus stacking
I'm always amazed at the number of landscape photographers who will limit themselves to shooting only wide-angle shots. Especially for great vistas like the ones in Tuscany, I find that a telephoto lens works the best. I personally shot 90% of my landscape images with the XF50-140 of which quite a few were beyond 100mm.

The only challenge of shooting at larger telephoto focal lengths, is the fact that the depth of field will typically be a bit limited; even at f16! Typically I will shoot a series if images (normally about 3 to 5) at different focus points; at least one for the foreground, middle ground and background. I then blend the images together in Photoshop for optimal sharpness across the whole frame. 

To take the images, the latest firmware update of the Fujifilm X-T2 has an automatic focus stacking capability that will take different images at different focus points. It does however not blend the images together. As I was using the X-H1 (which did not have this at the time), so I had to revert to manually changing the focus point for each image. Not a problem as long as one works on a tripod.  

More of my images shot in Tuscany can be found here.

Remember: "Landscape photography is the supreme test and often the supreme disappointment" - Ansel Adams.


Friday, July 6, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 27: IFE AERIALS - A new personal project is born

Sometimes a new photography project is born by experimentation or even out of boredom. Such was the case the other day when I was traveling in the passenger cabin of an airliner. Nowadays a lot of the modern airliners have great in-flight cameras installed on the nose and lower belly of the aircraft, so passengers can follow what is going on outside. 

While the tail camera on the Airbus A380 I fly for a living, is my personal favorite, I have mainly been disregarding the view directly below as being "not that interesting". Strange if you know that Aerial photography is one of my most favorite forms of photography! 

While watching the view below on the IFE (In-Flight-Entertainment) the other day flying into Brussels, I snapped a quick succesion of shots and was intrigued by the results. Given things pass by very fast (especially once low to the ground), one doesn't have an idea what is coming next. The surprise factor is what makes this type of photography interesting to me! 

While one image captured a cemetery (click here) before landing, I even found the ones taken on the ground intriguing; the yellow taxiway lines I follow every day as a pilot, all of sudden makes for a potential interesting image. 

The image below of the shadow of the airliner I was traveling on, being projected on the runway below, makes for another interesting perspective. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with XF18-135 lens 
  • ISO 3200, f4.7, 1/550s, 44mm
  • Lightroom CC Classic for RAW development using Classic Chrome film simulation
The project reminds me of a series called "TV shots" by Belgian Magnum photographer "Harry Gruyaert" who in the 1970's at the start of colour television, was photographing his TV screen.
More images of my new "IFE AERIALS" project can be found here.

Remember: "If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff" - Jim Richardson