TOM arrivals/night engine run advice

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ClickJ
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TOM arrivals/night engine run advice

Post by ClickJ » Tue Jul 12, 2022 1:21 am

I am finally able to do the Friday taxiway & Saturday night engine run at Thunder this year! I am really looking forward to this and wanted to see if you guys had any advice so I can try to make the most out of my time.

For the Friday arrivals/practice, if you've done the Taxiway photo package before I'm curious if you have a preference of the best spot to shoot from (which I know is subjective)/thoughts on each ("Photo Pit area" or "south side of taxiway G" which unless I am losing my marbles, were pretty much the same thing last year?).

I don't have much experience at all with night photography, planning to bring my tripod/remote shutter release and shooting in manual. Any tips on getting some good night shots? I'll be browsing some metadata on Flickr this week as well to get an idea on settings.

Thanks in advance!
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RyanS
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Post by RyanS » Tue Jul 12, 2022 2:44 pm

I don't know too much about the taxiway stuff, but I'll try to help with the night runs!

If you haven't watched my video from last year, check it out because it will give you an idea of what to expect. Lots of photogs trying to cram tripods into a small space. Each plane ran for a few minutes, enough time for me to do video and also get photos from a few different angles. Of course everyone wants to get the head on shot so you have to be patient there. Courtesy is to shoot a short bit and then slide backwards to give someone else the angle.



For settings, you are good to already have manual mode and the remote shutter. The lighting will change from plane to plane (last year was bright Mustang and dark Corsair/Mitchell) so finding settings is new for each plane and angle. It comes down to trial and error. Keep the ISO as low as you can, play with the aperture and shutter speed until you are close to what you want, then play with the shutter up and down. Check the screen frequently. You will be shooting quite long exposures so there will be plenty of prop blur.

For this Mustang shot I was at f/5, 0.8 sec shutter, and ISO 200.
IMG_0467web.jpg
IMG_0467web.jpg (113.01 KiB) Viewed 932 times
For this B-25 shot I was at f/4.5, 1 sec shutter, and ISO 160.
IMG_0675web.jpg
IMG_0675web.jpg (132.81 KiB) Viewed 932 times
One caveat is that I was shooting video at the same time so I didn't play with settings very much. I got it set up with my free hand and then just mashed the remote shutter for a burst of pics, then moved on to a new spot.

Be careful of overexposing parts of the plane. With the lights there will be hot spots that are unrecoverable if blown out. Err on the side of under exposing as you can easily lighten the shadows in editing. I use this same philosophy with my normal daytime shots as well. Your camera probably supports highlight peaking, where it will flash parts on the image that are pure white. It could be helpful in preventing blow outs if you don't trust yourself to notice them.

The runs are just idle runs, not high power run-ups. This caught me a little by surprise as I had previously shot the TBMs doing night run-ups with flames and such. There might be some flames on startup or shut down, but they are fleeting and hard to photograph, especially with the lights. The smoke puff on start can be quite dynamic though so start shooting as soon as they begin cranking and keep going until it clears. Unfortunately the vibration at startup can also lead to a bit of blur. Not much you can do about that except avoid super close detail shots until it is running smoothly.

The last thought I have is for composition. Like I said, I was primarily doing video but I basically tried to get a left, right, and center shot of each plane and that was pretty successful. After you shoot a few frames from one angle, you don't have much to gain by shooting more - they will all look mostly the same. Keep trying different compositions to give yourself options in editing. Zoom tighter, zoom wider, go high, go low, move around. Time is precious; don't rush, but move with a purpose and give yourself options to edit later.

Hope that helps! Hit me up with any questions. I may be out there, not quite sure yet.
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Ryan Sundheimer
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ClickJ
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Post by ClickJ » Fri Jul 15, 2022 11:44 am

Thank you very much for the detailed info! That’s all very helpful, looking forward to giving it a shot tomorrow.
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ClickJ
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Post by ClickJ » Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:57 am

I had so much fun with this! Still haven't had time to go through my pictures closely from the weekend but I got some shots from the night run that I really like. I've always been an expose-to-the-right person, which hasn't burned me too often - I made a real effort to try to go the other way during the night shoot and during the day.

Your advice about being deliberate was definitely helpful, whether it's at an air show or in the mountains I tend to easily get overwhelmed/excited about the environment I'm in and lose focus/forget the basics and everything goes out the window. But I was able to keep things reined in and never felt rushed. The two things that slowed me down a bit were the remote shutter (wired, I am used to wireless on my old camera) and tripod (this one has twist locks, I'm used to flip locks). I had just got both of those shortly before the show and hadn't used either enough yet to be second-nature, so adjusting the tripod especially with the cord was a bit of a faffe.

Looking forward to next year. Thanks again for the tips Ryan and it was great to meet you!
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RyanS
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Post by RyanS » Fri Aug 05, 2022 2:19 pm

Glad I could help! I haven't looked through mine at all either :)

Thanks for coming to say hi. I'm sure we'll cross paths many more times!
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Ryan Sundheimer
www.AirshowStuff.com

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