Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 26: The man who has no imagination has no wings

This weeks Pic(k) of the week is captioned with one of Muhammad Ali's famous quotes. I'm have no interest in boxing, however some of the 71 year old boxing legend quotes , have really resonated with me... "The man who has no imagination has no wings", is surely one of them!

2013 Pic(k) of the week 26: The man who has no imagination has no wings

Sticking to the photography theme, my iPhone has really given me the wings to develop my creativity! The above example of an Airbus A380 wing with the New York-JFK Air Traffic Control tower in the background, is a prime example of this.

Unlike most other iPhone images which I normally edit on the phone itself, this one has gone through my normal photography workflow. 

On a side note, my little Fuji X-E1 has done something very similar to the iPhone. Carrying a lightweight, far less obtrusive camera, has proved to be very valuable over the last 6 months or so. I've recently purchased the new telephoto Fujinon 55-200 lens for the camera and have therefore come one step closer to possibly giving up the DSLR sometime in the future... Only time will tell!

Image details:
iPhone 4S
ISO 50, 35mm, f2.4, 1/1800s
Lightroom 5 development of the jpeg file
SilverEfex 2 Black and White conversion

Over the years I have collected about 200 iPhone "keeper" images which can be found in its dedicated iPhoneography gallery.

Remember, "The best camera is the one that's with you", Chase Jarvis


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 25: Rumbeke castle at dusk

Belgium has about 3000 castles of which 300 are open to the public. One of the finest examples of Renaissance castles is the Rumbeke castle close to my city of birth, Roeselare.

The history of the castle goes back to the 13th century while large restorations took place in the 18th century, when a large park/forest was added around the castle, called "Sterrebos" (Star Forest). I can vividly remember going on numerous school trips to the site.

During World War I, the castle was taken over by the Germans and for a short time was the home of Baron Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the German ace fighter pilot, "Red Barron".

2013 Pic(k) of the week 25: Rumbeke Castle at dusk

A few weeks ago I passed by the castle around 10pm after having visited my parents in the neighbouring city of Roeselare. The sun had set about 15 to 20 mins earlier, allowing for a great twilight. Fortunately I carried my lightweight MyFoto tripod together with my FujiFilm Sexy- (X-E1).

Even though I shot quite a frames, the one with the reflection and long grasses in the foreground was my favourite one of the 20 min shoot!

A much darker silhouette image as well as some more images of this beautiful castle can be found here

Image details:
FujiFilm X-E1 with the 18-55 lens
ISO 200, 33mm, f5.6, shutter speeds between 0.7s and 12s (3 exposures)
RAW development of 3 files with Lightroom 4.4
Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop in a 32 bit image 
Finetuned 32 bit image in Lightroom 4.4
Nik ColorEfex for contrast adjustment


Monday, June 17, 2013

Amsterdam Schiphol - The worlds best aircraft spotting place?

Some people have said that Amsterdam-Schiphol airport is probably the worlds best airport for aircraft spotting. For the ones that don't know, what exactly is aircraft spotting?

Wikepedia says an airplane spotter is: "A person observing and logging aircraft registration numbers". We must however go back in time to find the origin of plane spotting. During WWII the Royal Air Force used a large number of volunteers to observe incoming aircraft. Due to the lack of radar at that time, the information gathered by these volunteers was critical in planning and executing defensive counter measures. 

Today aircraft spotting is however a peaceful hobby which can be practiced in many different ways; some are only interested in military aircraft others in airliners, general aviation aircraft or even disused airplane wrecks. Among all of these, we find  again a few different categories; photographers, people who are only writing down registrations, people listening in on the air band frequencies and a combination of all of the above.

Even though I do not call myself a "spotter", I do admit that I can probably be given the die hard aviation enthusiast tittle.

Fokker F100 on the rooftop observation deck at Schiphol airport

One of the more popular places to observe the departing and arriving airliners at Schiphol airport, is an extensive observation deck on top of one of the passenger terminals. The image above is of a KLM Fokker F100 sitting on the deck. The retired airliner can be visited by young and old. All for the great price of "free"!

I immediately asked myself why not more airports have a similar setup? After all it is probably one of the best ways to promote aviation. I'm convinced that kids visiting these places, often develop an interest in aviation and then as a result become pilots, engineers, cabin crew, etc... My "Aviation Photography" obviously plays an important role in this!

Beside the observation deck, Schiphol airport has plenty of places around the airport where one can watch and/or photograph the airliners landing and taking-off. These places often have no fences, but rather a small canal that avoids people getting to close. What a concept!

A complete list of the best viewing places at Schiphol airport can be found at the Schipholspotter website.

More Airliner images by Bjorn Moerman Photography, can be found here.

Fly safe and click that shutter,

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 24: 70 year Grand Old Lady - Air France DC-3

Whenever I can combine my two main passions, Aviation and Photography, I seem be in my best element...
The last two blogposts have been all about the Patrouille de France 60th anniversary airshow in Salon de Provence end of May.

After having come home with a fair amount of images from that event, I believe it is only appropriate to make one of them, my Pic(k) of the week.

2013 Pic(k) of the week 24: 70 year Grand Old Lady - Air France DC-3

Born on March 5th 1943 as a military C-47, this 70 year Grand Old Lady, was for me "the " aircraft that really stood out in the static display. It has been restored by the association "France DC-3" into a great condition. 

Online research showed an amazing aircraft history. Initially it flew active duty for the US Army Air Force during World War 2. After the war, it was then briefly transferred to the civil UK aircraft register where it participated in the Berlin Airlift (1948-1949). It remained on the civil register when it was bought by the French Air Force and was mainly used as a passenger aircraft. Eventually it ended up in the Central African Republic, before it came back to France in the early 1980's to fly cargo at night. 

It was in this role that I remember having seen the aircraft in Brussels, operating night cargo runs from and to Paris till 1987. 

Since then, the aircraft has had a large number of aircraft liveries, including a retro KLM one on the right and a retro Air France one on the left side. At the Salon de Provence Air-show however, it surprisingly showed only the Air France one.

Image details:
Nikon D800 with 70-200 2.8. VR2 Nikkor lens
ISO 400, f8, 135mm, 1/1000s
RAW development in Lightroom 4.4
Nik SilverEfex 2 for Black and White conversion

The Douglas DC-3 (military designation C-47) is one of my favourite vintage aircraft and more DC-3 images of mine can be found here.

As some people say, "the only thing a DC-3 can be replaced with, is another DC-3"


Monday, June 10, 2013

Airshow Patrouille de France 60th anniversary at Salon de Provence ( part 2 )

In part 2 of the series, we will have a look at some of the other displays during the Patrouille de France 60th anniversary airshow, in Salon de Provence end of May.

Cartouche Doré

Even though it was extremely windy, a few single engine propellor teams were also flying at Salon de Provence. One of them was a first for me; the French Cartouche Doré, flying three TB30 Epsilon trainers.

Fouga Magister on take-off

Before the Patrouille de France changed over to the Alpha Jet in 1981, they flew the V-tail Fouga Magister for 17 years. The gracious solo display of this privately owned one, was definitively worth it.

Mirage 2000 Full afterburner take-off

A military airshow wouldn't be complete without some fast jet demos like this Mirage 2000D shot during a full afterburner take-off.

Belgian Air Force F-16 solo display

For me the best of the high decibel jet displays, was clearly the Belgian Air Force F-16 flown by 29 year old Capt Renaud Thys (nickname Grat).

Airbus A400M

The only transport aircraft flying at the show was the brand new Airbus A400M Atlas. Airbus Military showed of one of the prototypes with a few high and low speed passes.

Mirage F-1

Last but not least I shot the dozen or so aircraft that were on static display. Like with this Mirage F-1 above, it is often a challenge not to include the fences and the spectators around the aircraft.

Mirage 2000 tailsection

Under these circumstances, I often go for detail shots like the tail section of the Mirage 2000E.

Danger around the Noratlas

Or part of the fuselage and prop of this vintage transport Noratlas.

Dassault Rafale nise section

One of my favourite images of the static display, is the nose section of the Dassault Rafale. I especially like the green reflection in the Head Up Display (HUD), amounted in the cockpit.

Red Arrow taking off for Duxford, UK

Overall I'm very happy I attended the 2013 Salon de Provence Airshow. The free (yes!) show was well organised with good transport from and to the multiple parking sides around the airport. The only negative was that the runway used for take-off and landings and the airshow display line were about a mile (>1500m) apart. This way one had to constantly make a choice what to photograph/watch; displays or take-off and landings. Oh boy, I walked that day!

If you want to visit the complete 2013 Salon de Provence airshow photo gallery, please click here. One of the images is reserved for next weeks Pic(k) of the week...

I'm hoping to attend at least a few more interesting airshows this year. The next one hopefully being the Duxford (UK) Flying Legends airshow July 13th & 14th.

Remember, " The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to the ones that can not fly" - Friedrich Nietsche


Friday, June 7, 2013

Airshow Patrouille de France 60th anniversary at Salon de Provence ( part 1 )

May 26th, I attended a large airshow set up to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the French Air Force, "Patrouille de France".

Patrouille de France

This jet team, consisting of 9 Alpha Jet military trainers, easily makes it into the top 5 of the worlds best jet teams! 

Patrouille de France over the Ecole de L-air

The show which attracted 120.000 spectators, was held at their home base, Salon de Provence in the South of France. This is the main base of the "Ecole de l'air" or Air Force academy.  Even though there were hardly any clouds on the Sunday I was there, a cold +35 knots local wind called "Mistral", made flying close formation a real challenge! 

Although I do prefer airshows that have more of a mixed program consisting of aerobatic, civil, vintage, warbird and jet aircraft, it was an exceptional airshow from a military aerobatic team perspective. It is rare to see most of Europe's teams together in one spot. 

Europe greatest Jet teams

Beside the Patrouille de France, A total of 5 other European jet teams participated;

Red Arrows formation

Starting with the renown Royal Air Force, "Red Arrows" flying the Hawk

Team Iskry (Poland) take-off

Team Iskry from the Polish Air Force flying the Iskra TS-11

Patrulla Águila flying the Casa 101

Spanish Air Force, Patrulla Aguila flying 7 Casa 101's

Patrouille Suisse formation

Patrouille Suisse from Switzerland, flying six Northrop F-5E fighter/bomber jets

Frecce Tricolori smoe overload

And finally my European favourite, the Italian "Frecce Tricoleri" flying the Aermachi MB-339. With 10 aircraft, this team holds the tittle for flying the most aircraft of all jet teams.

In part two of the series, I will share more of the other airshow participants as well as some aircraft displayed in a "static" environment.

Till then,
Fly safe and click that shutter,


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 23: Turquiose waters of the Gorges du Verdon

As explained in my previous Pic(k) of the week 22 blogpost, due to high winds (Mistral) in South-Eastern France last week, we had to cancel the planned Paragliding course. Instead, I ended up doing a fair amount of landscape photography in the Provence.

We based ourselves at Les-Salles-sur-Verdon, next to the Lake of Sainte Croix ( Lac du Sainte-Croix ), in the French Alpes-des-Hautes-Provence departement. This beautiful man made lake which is 10 km long and up to 3km wide, was formed in 1974 after the construction of a reinforced concrete dam at the West side.

To the East one finds the "Gorges du Verdon"; a 25 km long and up to 700 m deep canyon, known by many as Europe's nicest river canyon. 

The limestone walls attract many rock climbers like this brave lady here.

2013 Pic(k) of the week 23: Turquiose waters of the Gorges du Verdon

The image above of the amazing turquoise waters, was shot from a bridge at the Western entry to the Gorges. One can circumnavigate the canyon, by driving along the rim for about 100 km. Make sure not to mis the Route des Crêtes, a narrow ( partly one-way) ring road along some of the most spectacular sights.

Image details:
FujiFilm X-E1 with 18-55 lens
ISO 800, 27mm (full frame equivalent), f4, 1/850s
RAW development in Lightroom 4.4
Nik ColorEfex 4 with contrast adjustment

Compared to two other great landscape photography places, the Gorges du Verdon, feels like a mix of the Grand Canyon (only much greener) with the majestic rock formations of Yosemite. The image here, even reminds me of Half Dome in Yosemite.

I rarely recommend places to stay, but since we were very happy with our Bed and Breakfast ( chambre d'hotes ), I would like to make an exception; The "Clés du Verdon, (at Salles sur Verdon) is the perfect place to stay if visiting the area. Prices are reasonable, restaurants are walking distance and the hospitality by the lady of the house, Sophie, is great!

Remember, "To the complaint, there are no people in this photograph, I respond, there are two. The photographer and the viewer" - Ansel Adams