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A viation

T he A vi ati o n p ho to gra p he r issue nr. 1

p h o t o g r a p h e r

E-Magazine

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saab j 29F tunnan

c o l d wa r f i g h t e r f r o m s a a b - t h e u g ly d u c k l i n g

swed i sh a ir fo r c e g r i p e n s o l o d i s p l ay

RI AT

r o ya l i n t e r n at i o n a l a i r tat t o o

Top S hots

e d it oria l

t ut o ri al s

the best pictures from the 2017 air show season

what is aviation photography?

how do i become an aviation photographer?


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THIS ISSUE E D i t o r i a l : w h at i s av i at i o n p h o t o g r a p y ?

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T U T O R I A L : h o w d o i b e c o m e a n av i at i o n p h o t o g r a p h e r ?

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s a a b j 2 9 f T u n n a n - t h e u g ly d u c k l i n g

To p s h o t

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T U T O R I A L : W h at c a m e r a s h o u l d I b u y ?

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To p s h o t s

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s w e d i s h a i r f o r c e - g r i p e n s o l o d i s p l ay

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r e v i e w - r i at

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EDITORIAL

what is aviation photography? “Aviation photography is one of the more challenging genres you can shoot as a photographer: fast-moving subjects, bright backgrounds, keeping your camera stable at long focal lengths, weather, distance and the list goes on.” - Jeff Myer, Digital Camera world. Welcome to the first issue of The Aviation Photographer, an E-magazine created by Aviation photographers, for Aviation Photographers, with the objective of becoming a source of information aimed at improving your Aviation Photography to get the most out of your hobby and passion. We, the creators of this publication, are two Swedish, overweight, middle aged men, wearing funny hats when we are out taking pictures on or around airfields and for us, Aviation Photography is a passion, not a profession. We do this because we are passionate about airplanes and photography and our main objective with our passion is to constantly improve our photography and the quality of our pictures. Have you ever asked yourself the question “What is aviation photography”? Most likely, you haven’t as you have spent your time doing it, rather than thinking about it. But what if you would spend a moment pondering about the question, would you be able to formulate an answer that makes any kind of sense to others? Other Aviation Photographers would probably understand your answer regardless of how you formulated it, as it’s an experience that we share, but could you make a “normal” person understand? If we try to look at Aviation Photography from a logic and rational point of view, what we do is to take pictures of lifeand soulless machines that has the ability fly in the air. Sounds really interesting and exciting, doesn’t it?! Adding a more emotional and philosophical point of view, these machines represent freedom, the freedom to take to the skies, to travel long distances, to other, more exciting, exotic, faraway places. In some people’s eyes they represent design, speed and beauty. They also represent technology, history, war, death and destruction. Regardless of what they represent to you, regardless of the reason, airplanes have an almost magic attraction on us, something that makes us want to spend hours taking pictures of them. This is what Aviation Photography is to us. It’s also an opportunity for us to let “our inner geek” out and spend time with other geeks. What this publication will try to do, is to provide you with inspiration, information and ideas on how you can improve and get the most of out of your Aviation Photography

Peter Eliasson www.e-pic.se

Jörgen Nilsson www.jn-photo.se 3


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TUTORIAL

How do I become an aviation photographer?

FRIAT grand stand - Royal International Tattoo (RIAT)

What you should do when you find us? Talk to us! We might look a bit odd but don’t worry, we don’t bite and we are a friendly bunch of people who actually like it when “normal people” start talking to us. And don’t worry about the “normal” part... You’ll be just as odd as the rest of us in no time.

So, how do I become an Aviation Photographer? Find an aircraft, take a picture of it and voilà … You are an Aviation Photographer!

So you’ve made First Contact, now what? Well... It’s now that the fun begins! Because now you can ask us a lot of questions about everything that involves Aviation Photography and this is the best way to learn stuff that will improve your pictures. Remember “There are no stupid questions, there are only stupid people that don’t ask questions”.

It’s as easy as that. The question you should ask is this: “How do I improve my aviation photos?” The old saying “we’ve all been beginners at one point” applies to aviation photography of course. No one (or nearly no one) takes great aviation pictures from day one. This is a process that takes time, practice and a lot of truly bad pictures. Ask anyone who’s aviation pictures you like, and they will (eventually) tell you that for every good picture, there are thousands of really bad ones. Any aviation photographer that says anything different is lying, trust us!

But it might be appropriate to warn you at this point, because when you start asking us your questions, chances are that we will start answering with a bunch of weird words and phrases like “RAW”, “Lightroom”, “Fluff”, “Zoom”, “No afterburner, no picture”, “Bus” etc etc. Just stay calm and go with the flow! Before you know it, you’ll be speaking the same weird “language” like the rest of us!

So how do you improve your photography? The best advise we can give you, that is guaranteed to improve your pictures is this: Find other Aviation Photographers!

As stated before, this is a process that will take a lot of time, practice, learning, practice, mistakes, practice, more time and more practice. The trick is to have as much fun as possible during this time because the more fun you have, the more you will want to practice and the better you will become. After a while you will be able to envision images and use your experience to get THAT special image that makes your day. The way to get there is to have fun, subscribe to this e-zine and most importantly, READ it. This will make it possible for you to learn, get inspiration from others and evolve in this awesome hobby.

And trust us, we are out there and there’s a lot of us. Best way to find us? 1. Internet – We love showing our pictures on-line. 2. Go to the nearest airfield/airport – You’ll find us along the fences.

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SAAB j 29 Tunnan

the u gly d u c k lin g

swedish air force historic flight's saab j 29F ”yellow Rudolf” at the swedish air force air show 2016, malmen, linköping, sweden. Photographer: jörgen nilsson. jn-photo.se (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700mm - ISO 400 - f/6.3 - 1/1600)

Due to the Swedish neutrality and alliance free politics, there has been a need for the country to be able to design and manufacture its own weapons systems and airplanes. As a result, the Swedish Airplane company (Svenska AeroplanAktieBolaget) SAAB was founded in 1937. Difficulties in acquiring military airplanes shortly before and during WWII made the Swedish Government realize that a manufacturer of military airplanes within the country was a necessity, to ensure that Sweden could muster a strong enough Air Force to protect our neutrality as the country was wedged in between NATO and the Warsaw Pact after the war. At the end of World War two, the jet era of military aviation began with planes like the Me 262 (Germany), and Gloster Meteor (Great Britain). SAAB, realizing that jet planes were the future of military aviation, started converting some of their propeller driven SAAB 21 airplanes to Jet propulsion, thus creating the SAAB J 21R aircraft, in order to acquire knowledge and experience in jet propulsion and jet aircrafts.

swedish air force historic flight's saab j 29F ”yellow Rudolf” at the swedish air force air show 2016, malmen, linköping, sweden. Photographer: jörgen nilsson. jn-photo.se (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700mm - ISO 200 - f/5.6 - 1/1600)

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SAAB j 29 Tunnan

swedish air force historic flight's saab j 29F ”yellow Rudolf” at the swedish air force air show 2014, F17, ronneby, sweden. - Photographer: peter eliasson, e-pic.se (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 100 - f/5.6 - 1/1000)

This resulted in the SAAB J29 Tunnan (flying barrel) that made its first flight in 1948 and becoming operational in the Swedish Air Force in 1951. When it was made operational, it replaced planes such as the P-51 Mustang (J26) and De Havilland Vampire (J28).

A total of 661 J 29 Tunnan was built, in seven different versions and configurations and of these, 242 airplanes were written off due to crashes, where a total of 99 pilots were lost. In spite efforts by SAAB to try and sell the air plane to other countries, the only other nation to operate the SAAB J 29 Tunnan was Austria, who purchased 30 second hand J 29F that they operated between 1961 and 1972.

It’s noticeable that at the first test flight with the J 29, was made by a British test pilot (Mr Bob Moore), as Sweden didn’t have any jet pilots experienced enough at the time. The SAAB J29 was contemporary with the US built F-86 Sabre and the Soviet Mig-15 and could match the performance of these aircrafts at the time. In May 1954, a SAAB J 29B set the world speed record with an average speed of 977 Km/h on a 500 km long track.

The last operational flight in the Swedish Air Force was made in 1976. There is currently only one still flying J 29 Tunnan in the world and it’s maintained and operated by the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight (SwAFHF – www.swafhf.se) alongside planes like the SAAB Lansen, SAAB Draken and SAAB Viggen.

At the height of production, the SAAB factory produced one J 29 airplane per day. 6


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SAAB j 29 Tunnan

swedish air force historic flight's saab j 29F ”yellow Rudolf” at Ostrava nato days 2015, czech republic photographer: jörg en nilsson. jn-photo.se (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 160 - f/5.6 - 1/1600)

The individual that is still flying is a J 29F, serial number 29670, and it flew in active service until 1968, when it was decommissioned and placed in a museum in Sweden. It was stored there until 1993 when a group of volunteers started renovating it to airworthy condition. It made its first flight after the restoration in 1995 and it’s still flying, with the civilian registration SE-DXB. The plane is marked as belonging to F 10 (10th fighter wing) Ängelholm with call sign Yellow Rudolf.

Technical data SAAB J29F Tunnan Width: Length: Height: Wing area: Weight, empty: Max. take off weight: Max speed: Thrust: Engine:

The J 29F Tunnan participates in air shows in Europe and it’s highly recommended to see this ugly duckling to take to the sky and become a beautiful swan.

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11,0 m 10,2 m 3,75 m 24,15m² 4845 Kgs 8375 Kgs 1060 Km/h 2800 kp RM 2B


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SAAB j 29 Tunnan SAAB J 29 at war As part of ONUC, the United Nations peace keeping force in Kongo, five SAAB J 29B was sent to Kongo-LÊopoldville in 1961. An additional four SAAB J 29B (fighter) and S 29C (recon) were sent a year later and the air crafts were part of the 22 U.N Fighter Squadron that in turn was a part of U.N Fighter Wing, a multinational force consisting of units from India, Ethiopia, Iran and the Philippines. This was the second time that fighters from the Swedish Air Force participated in an armed conflict and the whole operation was regarded as successful with a very high level of availability for the SAAB aircrafts. The primary objective for the J 29 aircrafts were ground attacks as the few fighter aircrafts that the Katangan forces had available, we no match in air to air combat. There were scrimmages with Katangan fighters, but only one air to air fight where two SAAB J29B air crafts encountered a North American AT-16 Harvard, flown by a Polish pilot, that had just taken off from Kolwezi. The SAAB aircrafts engaged the Harvard and damaged it but the polish pilot managed to land the aircraft, but the damages were so sever that the plane couldn’t be used any more in the war. The pilot was reported undamaged by the incident. During the peace keeping mission in Congo, two SAAB J 29 was lost due to crashes wile landing at the Kamina base, without any injuries to the pilots and only minor damages to the airplanes. It was, however, deemed that it would be too expensive and time consuming to repair the aircrafts and they were used for spare parts or for target practice.

When ONUC was decommissioned, in 1964, two J 29B and the two S 29C were flown back to Sweden, while the rest of the aircrafts were blown up on location, as they were regarded to be obsolete for service in the Swedish Air Force and it would be to costly to fly them back home to Sweden. Source: Wikipedia

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top shot

DHL boeing 767-3jhf - photographer: peter eliasson - e-pic.se ( Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS - 310.0 mm - ISO 200 - f/8 - 1/400)


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TUTORIAL

w h at c amer a s h o u l d I b uy? ”What camera do you use?”

What you get with professional level equipment are the tools required to take great pictures but you also need planning, skill, luck and what we like to call “A good eye”. Planning comes with experience, skill comes with practice. The more you practice, the more skillful (and lucky) you will be and the better your pictures will be, it’s as simple as that.

This is one of the most common question that we get from people all over the world, on facebook and other social media, after they have looked at our pictures. The question is of course easy to answer but the more interesting question (and one that it is a bit more difficult to answer) is what camera YOU should get if you want to get in to aviation photography.

“A good eye” is something that some people are just born with while others will struggle a bit to get to the same level. It’s like in sports; some are more talented than others but in the end they all still need a lot of practice.

To answer that question, we need to look in to a few factors that have an impact on the answer and things you need to sort out before you start spending money, because one thing we can promise you: Once you start getting in to aviation photography, it is going to be expensive.

So, how to decide what to buy? There are a couple of things that you can call “a baseline” of requirements for the equipment you should get. If these requirements are checked off, you have a good foundation of equipment to build on, because build on it you will.

Photography in general and aviation photography in particular is a “material sport”, meaning that to get the really great pictures, you need great equipment.

• You should be able to shoot in RAW format. The sooner you start shooting in RAW format, the better.

So now you are thinking “if I get the expensive professional equipment, I will automatically take professional quality pictures!”

• Get equipment that you can upgrade, as your skill improves. You will eventually want to upgrade and changing brand or having to get a whole new set of equipment is expensive. So, from the start, check out what the next level of equipment is and plan ahead.

- Think again!

• When choosing between spending money on a camera house or a lens, ALWAYS choose the lens. A highquality lens will do more for the picture quality than a camera house. 10


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TUTORIAL Internet is, of course, a good source of information when trying to figure out what equipment to buy, but the best advise we can give you, is to try and find others who are in to aviation photography and ask them. Ask them why they bought the equipment they have, what’s good with it and what’s bad with it. (don’t believe them if they say nothing’s bad with it)

If we start with the last question on the list, “how much weight can you carry”, it may sound a bit strange, but it is actually an important factor to take in to account.

We can pretty much guarantee that you will be both confused, indecisive and frustrated by now, but that’s actually normal.

We could write an article on this subject alone! Actually, later on we might.

Firstly, if traveling to the air show, getting all of it on a plane as hand luggage can be an interesting task. Getting it all in one bag under 8 kgs... Good luck!

Secondly, you need to be able to carry all of your equipment during the whole day at the show. First from the parking to the photo spot where distances and times may vary greatly but it’s ALWAYS too far and takes too long.

When you have done your homework, establishing the “baseline”, you should have a better idea of what stuff to get.

If you are at the show, alone, and have no one to watch your equipment when you want to do the static display, then you will have to carry it with you. This can be really tough if you are like me and like to get low angle shots as well. Kneeling, checking the angle but it sucks because the background is not right, getting up and moving one or two meters, getting down on your belly, now there are cones blocking part of the subject, getting up and moving and if this repeats hundreds of times you will really feel the weight of every little piece you brought with you...

So, the hard part of choosing what equipment to get is done, right?! Nope! Now comes the really tough questions! Questions like: • How big is your budget? • What type of pictures do you want to take? • How much weight can you carry?

I have been to shows where we were unable to enter the show ground at the same gate we exited and had to walk around the airfield carrying everything. This was about 7 km. Fortunately Jörgen was at the car and could meet me and pick me up after about 5 km. Last but not least, try lifting and swinging a weight of 5 kilos over your head and in front of you, with straight arms, for five to six hours in a day and you will experience pain! Little point in buying expensive (and heavy) equipment if you don’t have the strength to carry or lift it after a little while. (been there, done that) So, when looking at the technical specifications of equipment, have a look at the weight, as it is a smart thing to do, believe it or not.

Remember, you will have to carry and lift that big camera all day long, so make sure you are able to do this, or you’d better get a gym card as well.

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TUTORIAL Next on the list of factors is “What type of pictures do you want to take”?

The size of your budget is the question on the list that will cause you the most headache as there will be a (big) difference in what you WANT and what you can AFFORD but you can from the start prepare your self for the fact that you will be spending more than your initial budget.

What type of pictures are there, besides cool and awesome ones? Well, there’s a bunch of them...

There are a few facts of life that apply here, one of them being ”you get what you pay for” meaning that if you want the best equipment, you will have to pay for it.

Let’s list the most common ones: • Do you want to take pictures of airplanes on static display only? • Do you want to take pictures of big airliners taking off and landing at your local airport? • Do you want to take pictures of small, fast jet- and propeller planes flying above you at an air show? • Do you want to take “air-2-air” pictures? • All of the above?

But if you are a bit smart, you plan your purchases and have a little patience you will be able to spend your money wisely and get good value for your money. We’ll never say that you’ll be able to ”save money” or that it will be cheap because it never will, but follow our advise and you’ll get as much as possible out of your hard earned money.

Let me guess: You want all of the above, right?! These diverse types of pictures have slightly different requirements on your equipment. The easiest one, taking pictures of airplanes on static display, can be done using very basic equipment. Nothing is moving, you are close and you can take your time to find the right angles and the best light. Your biggest problem will be all the people and annoying posts, cones, signs, rope and fences that are in the way. In many cases, a phone camera will do the trick. If you want to take pictures of small and fast jet- and propeller planes flying over your head at air shows, you will need something a bit more powerful (and expensive) as we are now talking long distance, fast moving objects that needs to be focused and hopefully you’ll have time to take a lot of pictures. And don’t forget about the weight issue of the equipment!

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TUTORIAL Lets start with the camera. To start with, we will only be talking about digital DSLR cameras or Digital Single-Lens Reflex cameras. We will argue that if you want to be able to take good aviation pictures, a DSLR camera is what you need, period.

There are of course other features in a camera that is of importance, like: • • • • •

We won’t bring up mirrorless systems here, as theire auto focus systems are still is too slow for aviation/action photography. Nor will we talk about the small digital cameras that some times are marketed having ”400x zoom”. Don’t even go there.

Auto Focus Speed Megapixels on the sensor Number of Focus points Sensor quality / Low noise Frames Per Second

And you can in most cases state that the more expensive a camera is, the better these features are.

For modern DSLR cameras, there are two main options: Full Frame or Crop sensors.

One of these features, that is often mentioned as an important factor for aviation photography, is Frames Per Second (fps). In other words, how many pictures can you take in a second. This is a number that you need to know a couple of things about.

To find out more about the differences between a Crop sensor camera and a Full Frame camera, Google the topic and you’ll find lots of article to read. In short, a Crop camera has a “built in enlargement” of a factor between 1.4x and 1.6x. So a Crop sensor camera with a crop factor of 1.4 with a zoom of 150mm-600mm attached to it, will appear to have a focal length of 210mm – 840 mm. The drawback is is that the sensor of these cameras aren’t as good a full frame sensor, usually giving more noise in the picture and you can’t crop/enlarge the picture as much as with a Full Frame camera as the noise will become more visible. Lenses for Crop cameras are usually cheaper than lenses for full frame cameras but the Crop lenses won’t work on a full frame camera. But a full frame lens will normally work on a Crop camera. This is an important factor to consider when choosing between a Crop camera and a Full Frame camera. If you at some point want to move from a Crop camera to a Full Frame camera, chances are you will have to buy new lenses as well and that will be expensive.

Once you have pushed the trigger on the camera, the picture you just took needs to be saved to the camera memory card. So the speed of which your memory card can save the picture is important for the fps number. A “slow” memory card takes longer time to write data to, thus less fps. Just switching from using a SD memory card to a CF memory card will do a lot for the fps on your camera.

”Ernest Hemingway to Irving Penn: “Your photos are really good. What camera do you use?”

There is also a “memory buffer” in the camera. That’s where the data of the picture you just took is temporarily stored, until it’s saved to the memory card, as the camera is taking the next picture. There’s a size limit to the memory buffer and when it’s full, the camera slow down until the data has been saved to the memory card, freeing up buffer space. This effects the fps rate.

Irving Penn to Ernest Hemingway: “Your novels are excellent. What typewriter do you use?”

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TUTORIAL My personal opinion is that a high fps rate isn’t a critical feature, as there are so many things that effect it. It’s better to train your skill of WHEN to push the trigger and take ”bursts” of 3-4 pictures a time rather than just keeping the trigger pushed the whole time. Let’s talk budget! So, how much money do you want to spend? I’m pretty sure you’ll end up spending more than you plan to... As we have mentioned earlier in this article, photography is a “material sport” and you will get the urge to buy better (and more expensive) equipment. And we would be lying if we said that the equipment you use doesn’t have an impact on the quality of your pictures. It does. But in most cases, you will improve the quality of your pictures more by practicing rather than upgrading. You could, literally, spend a small fortune on camera equipment without any improvement in quality of your pictures, ending up with you being broke and hating photography. Avoid going down that road by learning from others and evolve your photography in your own time and way and we promise you’ll have a great time.

There are many different ways you can use your camera

The trick is to spend your money wisely by planning ahead and be smart about purchases and upgrades. • Spending a bit more on buying a Full Frame lense and a less expensive Crop/APC-S camera will save you money when upgrading your camera and it will improve the sharpness of your pictures. • Upgrade your equipment when the equipment you have set the limitation on what pictures you are able to take. Don’t upgrade because you think it will make you take better pictures. • Look at buying second hand equipment. Expensive cameras and lenses have usually been taken good care of and they will probably work just as well as new equipment. • Get the brand most of your friends use. This will let you get some first hand experience/mentoring and let you lend some of their equipment if needed (even if for trying before you buy). A situation that I think most photographers have been in, is the anxiety you get before spending a big chunk of money on camera equipment. Lots of thoughts and sleepless nights are not uncommon. But once you’ve got that new lens or camera in your hands and you see the improvement, you just regret that you didn’t buy it sooner. As you browse through the net looking for equipment to buy, you will quickly find that there are a lot of different stuff that manufacturers think you “must have” in order to become a great photographer. Try and resist most of them. Before you buy something that looks like “a good thing to have”, again try to ask someone who’s more experienced. We can promise that you’ll get good advice and in most cases, be advised NOT to buy it simply because you don’t need it. 14


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TUTORIAL Do I need more than one camera? Eventually, you will come to a point where you realize that you have missed a number of good shots simply because you had the ”wrong” lens mounted on your camera and that’s when you decide to get a second camera. So the answer to the question is that you don’t need two cameras but you will end up having more than one camera simply because it’s practical. Having two cameras of the same brand and even the same model, is recommended, as you can then swap batteries between them if needed and you don’t have to think about what lens works with what camera etc. Ok, so what brand(s) should you buy? As you might have noticed, we have not mentioned any particular camera brands in this article and that’s not by coincidence. What brand you choose to get is quite irrelevant, if you follow our advise in this article. Photographers tend to be very loyal to the brand they have chosen as “theirs”. I can promise you there isn’t a gathering of photographers in the world where their choice of brand isn’t argued. And of course, “my brand” is the best one, because I spent a small fortune buying it so it better be the best! But if you keep asking them, you will eventually find the “cracks” and the truth comes out. There are pros and cons to all brands, no exceptions and that’s just the way it is. The “trick” is to find the equipment that is the best compromise between price, quality and features for your needs. As long as you are aware that choosing wisely at the start will save you money ni the long run, when choosing “your” brand, you’ll be fine. Next time we’ll take a look at what lens to buy.

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To p s h o t

Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback or ”Hell Duck” - photographer: peter eliasson. e-pic.se (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 100 - f/8 - 1/1250)


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g r i p e n s o l o d i s p l ay

M ajor sta r b u t t - S w edis h air for ce

SAAB 39C Gripen - Gripen Solo Display - photographer: Jörgen Nilsson. jn-photo.se (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500.0 mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 100 - f/5.6 - 1/1600)

Major Peter ”Starbutt” Fällén is one of two display pilots of the Swedish Air Force and this is the fifth year that he performs displays as Gripen Solo Display, flying the SAAB 39C Gripen jet fighter. The display pilot duty is a volunteer addition to his daily duties as a fighter pilot with the 72nd Fighter Sqn, ”Ghost Sqn”, in the Swedish Air Force and the planes he flies during the displays are all standard SAAB 39C Gripen jet fighters, taken from the regular rotation of airplanes in service. This has become “a thing” with SAAB and the Swedish Air Force, to use standard aircrafts and not have dedicated, modified display planes, to show that a Gripen can fly a display in the morning and a fighter mission in the afternoon. One of the highlights of Mj Fällén’s display career was Major Peter ”Starbutt” Fällén - Swedish Air Force, at a ”meet & winning The Sir Douglas Bader Trophy for ”best individual greet”, RIAT 2017. display” at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) 2016. You can follow Gripen Solo Display on social medias on the This in competition with some of the best display pilots in following accounts: the world. Instagram: gripensolodisplay Twitter: @gripendisplay Facebook: Gripen Solo Display Sweden

”The award will be on display at the flotilla, where everyone involved in the team effort it took to win it, can see it”, said Mj Fällén after the awards ceremony. 17


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g r i p e n s o l o d i s p l ay

swedish air force gripen solo display at the royal international air tattoo (riat) 2014, raf fairford, uk. - Photographer: jรถrgen nilsson, jn-photo.se (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 200 - f/5.6 - 1/1600)


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g r i p e n s o l o d i s p l ay

gripen solo display at the royal international air tattoo (riat) 2014, raf fairford, uk. - Photographer: jรถrgen nilsson, jn-photo.se (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 200 - f/5.6 - 1/1600)

gripen solo display starting his display - Photographer: jรถrgen nilsson, jn-photo.se (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 500 - f/6.3 - 1/1600)


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g r i p e n s o l o d i s p l ay

gripen solo display turning & burning - Photographer: jรถrgen nilsson, jn-photo.se (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 250 - f/5.6 - 1/1600)

gripen solo display smoking hot - Photographer: peter eliasson, e-pic.se (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS II USM + 1.4x - 840.0 mm - ISO 250 - f/5.6 - 1/1250)


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To p s h o t

Mil Mi-24V Hind E, Czech Republic - Air Force - photographer: peter eliasson (Canon EOS 5D Mark III -

Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS II USM + 1.4x - 840.0 mm - ISO 100 - f/6,3 - 1/20)


(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500m m f/4L I S + 1 .4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 400 - f/5,6 - 1/1600)

m irage 2 000n fr ench ai r for ce ram ex delta - pho t ographer: jรถrgen nilsson

T h e A v iat io n p hotog r apher T he A vi ati o n p ho to gra p he r

To p s h o t


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royal i nte r n at io n a l tattoo ”The world’s greatest airshow”

If you are in to aviation in general, aviation photography and military aviation in particular, you have probably heard of RIAT and seen a lot of stunning pictures from this airshow. Marketed at “The World’s greatest airshow” by the organizers, RIAT, or the Royal International Air Tattoo, sure lives up to that statement in pretty much all regards and this is an airshow you should enter pretty high up on your bucket list if you haven’t been there.

”So, what is RIAT?”

The Royal International Air Tattoo is arranged and organized by the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, an organization that support a wide range of projects and initiatives benefiting RAF serving personnel, cadets and other young people as well as veterans. This means that the focus of RIAT is on military aviation with both static and flying displays of mostly military aircrafts from pre WWII to today’s modern jet-fighters from all corners of the globe. This offers a chance to catch a glimpse of some aircrafts that USAF Bell Boeing CV-22B Osprey. isn’t often seen in Europe, both flying and on static display, together with a lot of other aviation geeks from all over the world. ”What aircrafts will The airshow is held annually, at RAF Fairford, a USAF base located about a 30 minute drive north of Swindon, in the UK and it’s usually scheduled for the third weekend of July.

I see at RIAT?”

In the last four years, 2014-2017, they have been able to gather a rather impressive list of different aircrafts at RIAT, with the list below being a short summary of flying displays: • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady, Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor Shukhoi Su-27 Flanker Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 29 Fulcrum SAAB 39C Gripen Dassault Rafale Typhoon Eurofighter F-18 Hornet Avro Lancaster Avro Vulcan AH-64 Apache CH-47 Chinook

As you can see, it’s a rather impressive flying line-up that they put together and add to this a static display that contain even more aircrafts and I think you are starting to get an idea of what RIAT is all about. And you have probably also realized the photo opportunities that RIAT offers.

Ukraine Air Force Suchoj Su-27 Flanker. 23


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Hellenic Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4E AUP Phantom II - Photographer: jörgen nilsson, jn-photo.se (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 100 - f/5.6 - 1/400)

”Cool! Let’s pack our bags and go there!” That’s the spirit! But before you start packing, there are some practical details that needs sorting and some planning that needs to be done in order to get the most out of your RIAT experience. This may sound a bit boring, but trust me, to get the most out of the RIAT experience, you really do need to plan your visit or you will end up missing some pretty good stuff or simply become overwhelmed by the size of RIAT.

”How many days should I plan for, for my RIAT visit?” Well, that depends on your budget, how many days you can get off work and how big an avgeek you are. The airshow it self is 2½ days, with displays half of Friday and then full display days both Saturday and Sunday. These are also the days when you can access most of the static displays if you have the correct tickets. More about tickets later. But remember that there are a lot of aircrafts at RIAT and these all have to land and be arranged for the static display so arrivals will start on Wednesday and they will go on until the morning of Friday. This is a very good opportunity to get pictures of aircrafts scheduled for static display, when they are in the air. This is something that the organizers of RIAT has realized and you can actually get tickets to get pretty close to these landing, at something they call “Park & View”. And yes, I’ll get back to the different ticket types later in this article. So now, you actually have 4½ days of aviation photography if you want!

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r i at But it doesn’t end there... Once RIAT is over, all, or most, of the aircrafts that landed at RAF Fairford, now have to depart so you will get an additional day, Monday, to take even more pictures of departing aircrafts. This means, that if you want the full RIAT experience, plan for a grand total of 5½ days of photography!

Pilatus Britten-Norman BN-2T Islander/ASTOR C/N 2140 - Photographer: jörgen nilsson, jn-photo.se (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 100 - f/10 - 1/200)

”What tickets should I get?”

Again, this is a question that depends on how many days you plan to go, and how big your budget is. RIAT offers a wide range of different ticket options (and prices), from “yes, this I can afford” to “Are you kidding me?!” The best overview of the different tickets and options can of course be found at the RIAT website at http://www.airtattoo. com but this is basically how it works: The most basic ticket option is to get daily general admission tickets, that pretty much just lets you in to the show ground Friday – Sunday and then you’ll have to fight your way to a good spot to view the displays from. This is most likely to be on a grass surface by the runway, along with the other 160 000 visitors. Yes, 160 000 people. Now you understand why I wrote “fight your way”... But you can improve on the general admission ticket, by buying a seat ticket to the grand stand, increasing your odds to get a good spot to take pictures from. You can actually improve on your general admission ticket to the point where you can view the displays in real VIP class, from the VIP enclosure, with all that comes with that in food and drinks. These are the “are you kidding me?!” tickets.

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r i at ”I’m going! Where do I stay?”

Once you have decided how many days you will be attending RIAT, it’s time to book somewhere to stay. Unless you have friends or family in the area around RAF Fairford, I strongly recommend that you arrange your accommodations as early as possible, as most facilities in the area will be fully booked in October/November the year before. There are options for most budgets, from camping to luxury hotels, just be sure to book it in time. And be prepared that prices will be high as it is a popular event.

”How do I get to and from the showground?” Even though RIAT is a big annual event, with a lot if people attending, the roads around RAF Fairford are typical British; narrow and small, so prepare for traffic congestions! RAF Boeing-Vertol CH-47 Chinook HC.4. Picture taken from the FRIAT enclosure.

There are ticket options where bus fair from larger cities in the surrounding area is included but if you are driving to the place, the best advice we can give, is to get an early start. Parking areas around the show ground open at 06:00 but don’t be surprised if there are cars waiting to get in, if you arrive at 06:00. Remember, it’s a fight to get to the best spectator/photo spots.

If your plan is to attend RIAT multiple days, then perhaps a package deal is a good option. Then you have the FRIAT ticket options, where FRIAT stands for “Friends of the Royal International Air Tattoo” and it comes in three different levels: Mach 1, Mach 2 and Mach 3.

Also, remember that the roads around RAF Fairford will be under strict control, by the police, and once you have committed to a rout in to the area, you won’t be able to change your rout. Read the information on the RIAT web site and know that they do follow the information they provide.

These FRIAT tickets give you multi day access to the show ground, a seat on the FRIAT grand stand, free daily programs and some other perks. In short, FRIAT is avgeek central and this is good value for money. It’s not cheap in any way, shape or form but it’s a good package for the full RIAT experience.

If getting in to RAF Fairford can be a nightmare, getting out can be even worse. A lot of cars leaving at the same time, on the same small roads means that it can take time to get out. A good piece of advise is to have water available in the car and to go to the toilet before you start driving.

There are also the “Park & View” tickets that gives you access to two public areas on the east and west end of the runway, where you can take pictures of aircrafts arriving and departing. Which side you choose to go to depends on what runway is active (09/27) and that depends on the wind direction. As the name states, these tickets gives you a space to park your car and then you walk in to the area where you can view the aircrafts that arrive and depart. Remember to bring a chair. All enclosures have places where you can buy food and something to drink as well as toilets. But as stated, unless you have a ticket to a grandstand or enclosure or you are going to the Park & View area, bring a chair.

RAF Red Arrows. Picture taken from the FRIAT enclosure. 26


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r i at ”Great! Anything else I should know?” There will be security checks when entering the show ground and this will in turn cause lines and a bit of waiting. No need to bitch and moan about it as it’s for your safety and protection so just go with the flow and, again, get there early. The show ground with the static displays are HUGE so wear comfortable shoes if you plan on having a look through the static areas. There are buses that go all day long up and down the static display area but chances are you’ll end up walking a lot while at RIAT. If you have a lot of camera equipment with you, I recommend buying a fold-able trolley that you can use to load you camera bag on to, when walking the static display and to/from the parking area. RIAT is NOT ladder friendly, thank God. If you bring a stepladder to the show ground, you can expect to be guided to specific areas where ladders are allowed. There is a “code of conduct” among spectators at RITA, especially if you have a seat in the FRIAT grand stand. What ever you do, DO NOT STAND UP to take a picture when seated in the FRIAT Grand Stand. If you do, you will feel the full wraith of fellow aviation photographers around you! You will be among fellow avgeeks and I can promise you that you will meet people there that you will become friends with. As you know, we are a friendly bunch of people and those who are “RIAT Veterans” will be very helpful if you need help in any way. British summer means that you will experience all the different seasons in one day, so dress for all occasions.

USAF Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady - Photographer: jörgen nilsson, jn-photo.se (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 200 - f/5.6 - 1/800)

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r i at ”Awesome! Now, where are the best photo spots at RIAT?” Interesting that you should ask, because the answer depends on what kind of pictures you are looking to get and what kind of aircrafts it is you prefer. If you go to the RIAT event grounds, you’ll get some good photo opportunities of aircrafts starting and landing, slow aircrafts like helicopters and propeller planes as they have a display line that is closer to the audience that what fast jets have. But there is also the option of “leaving the reservation” and go to photo spots outside the show grounds. The most popular one and the one that most photo-geeks go to is Totterdown camping, located on the opposite side of the runway compared to the show ground. These locations are best if you want good photo opportunities of the fast jets. As a matter of fact, there are a number of private “Park & view” locations around RAF Fairford, where you can drive your car on to a field and stay with you car while you look at/take pictures of the displays. The “quality” of these locations vary, and it’s best to ask the “RIAT veterans” on what location they prefer, to find out where the best spots are. It cost between £15.00 - £20.00 for a day at these private Park & View locations and I do recommend that you spend at least one day at one of these locations, to get a good mix of pictures. In the next pages, you’ll see a mix of pictures taken at some of the different photolocations. Hopefully we’ll meet at RIAT one day!

Hellenic Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4E AUP Phantom II Photographer: jörg en nilsson, jn-photo.se picture tak en at park & view east. (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM - 300mm - ISO 100 - f/9 - 1/160) 28


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park and view ea s t

Swedish air force SAAB 39D Gripen - Photographer: jรถrgen nilsson, jn-photo.se picture tak en at park & view east on departure day (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 125 - f/5.6 - 1/500)

USAF Thunderbirds Photographer: jรถrg en nilsson, jn-photo.se picture tak en at park & view east

Boeing 737-7BC BBJ Photographer: jรถrgen nilsson, jn-photo.se picture tak en at park & view east

(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS ISO 125 - f/4.5 - 1/1600)

(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x 700.0 mm - ISO 100 - f/6.3 - 1/400)

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fri at e nc lo s u r e

RAF Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II - Photographer: jรถrgen nilsson, jn-photo.se picture tak en from the friat enclosure (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 160 - f/5.6 - 1/800)

luftwaffe panavia tornado ecr Photographer: jรถrgen nilsson, jn-photo.se pi cture tak en from t he friat enclosure

USMC KC-130J and F35B Lightning II Photographer: jรถrgen nilsson, jn-photo.se picture tak en from the friat enclosure

(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM - 221 mm - ISO 100 - f/7.1 - 1/400)

(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x 700.0 mm - ISO 100 - f/13 - 1/200)

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tot t e rdo w n c a mping

Ukraine Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 Flank er - Photographer: jรถrgen nilsson, jn-photo.se picture tak en from totterdown camping ground (Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x - 700.0 mm - ISO 400 - f/5.6 - 1/1600)

italian air force panavia tornado Photographer: jรถrgen nilsson, jn-photo.se picture tak en from totterdown camping grou nd

French Air Force display team Couteau Delta - Mirage 2000D Photographer: jรถrgen nilsson, jn-photo.se picture tak en from totterdown camping ground

(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x 700 mm - ISO 250 - f/5.6 - 1/1600)

(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x 700.0 mm - ISO 100 - f/13 - 1/200)

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SAAB AJS 37 Viggen -Ostrava NATO Days 2016, czech republic. photographer: peter eliasson. e-pic.se Canon EOS 5D Mark III - Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x (700.0 mm) - f/6.3 - 1/1250 - ISO 320

Fa s t & Lo w A c t i o n P h o t o g r a py S w e d e n H B Publishers:

Jörgen Nilsson

E-mail:

jnproduction@bredband.net

Peter Eliasson

E-mail:

peter.eliasson@e-pic.se

© FLAPS HB - All rights reserved.

The Aviation Photographer #1  

The Aviation Photographer is a free, on-line e-magazine that focus on providing tutorials, inspiration and ideas for people interested in av...

The Aviation Photographer #1  

The Aviation Photographer is a free, on-line e-magazine that focus on providing tutorials, inspiration and ideas for people interested in av...

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