What to do About the Weather
Thunderstorms rolled through the area last night and it got me to thinking. For pilots concerned about safety and completing a mission, CAVU* meteorological conditions might be preferred. But the weather may have other ideas and missions get flown sometimes in spite of the weather. Sometimes those missions involve capturing images of aircraft.
Here is a recent image captured in clear air. It's actually pretty good, but that is more a function of the scenery and composition than how the aircraft plays against the setting. A cloudless sky would change the character of the image, reducing it in my opinion. Then remove the mountains? Well, if all you have is a beautiful shot of an aircraft against nothing but blue sky, one glance and the reader moves on to other things.
Unlike this situation. The ragged clouds appear nearly unbroken beyond the aircraft, but obviously there is a tear in the cover letting sun in on the ship and a strip of rugged ground. The white parts of the ship contrast against the shadowed mountain and the blues in the shadows contrast with the warmth of the sunlit elements. The skies are uncertain, the light is in motion. Five seconds from now the sun might be gone or the midground might be in shadow and the ridgeline in the light!
Here we have another example of a shot made with broken clouds overhead. This was a case of a deadline pushing me into the air when the weather looked un-promising (this mission was for a cover story in Aviation Week & Space Technology). The aircraft went out for a final check flight so I cooled my heels awaiting its return. (See below for an exciting event that occurred while I waited. I'm serious!) The sky seemed to offer nothing but gray opportunities. Still, I will create the best possible with what we have to work with.
Here's another shot. It's missing the mountainous background but for a cover image it is, of course, more useful — all this low-detail background gives the designer clear space to put the flag, story titles, indicia, and the like. With this kind of lemonade to be made, you sometimes wish for lemons!
When The Ground Doesn't Cooperate
They were practicing autorotations but as they neared the ground this time I could tell they were going too fast. So, as they were coming down my camera was coming up.
* CAVU means ceiling and visibility unlimited.
Keywords: Arizona, aviation, background, cloud, clouds, cloudy, helicopter, light, lighting, photography, skies, sky, storm, stormy, technique, weather
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Photography is a massive field. Aerospace photography less so. In these writings I share stories and tips.