Another trip to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire today with my good friend David Newby. I enjoyed the last trip we made to Coningsby, it was a challenge, somewhat different to the macro and bird photography that I normally do.Totally different camera settings are required for the prop planes and I found that even more challenging with my hit rate of shots in focus being very very low Lol. I can see further visits to photograph aircraft happening as it is quite addictive as far as I'm concerned. There is a certain buzz I get from capturing these awesome jet aircraft in flight.
I picked David up at 08:45 and we arrived at Coningsby at 09:45.The wind was in the opposite direction to our last visit which meant the planes were taking off and landing from the other end of the runway so a change of viewing point was necessary. As far as I am concerned this is the better viewing point. I took both the 7D bodies, one with the 500mm lens and the other with the 400mm. As it happened I hardly used the 500mm, as the action was close enough to capture with the 400mm.
Weather forecast was for good sunny periods.They got that well wrong. We ran into fog on the way which there was no mention of on the forecast and although it cleared as we got nearer to Coningsby it still remained very misty and murky with the cloud base very low. Not to be deterred we soon had our gear ready and it wasn't long before the first of many out going aeroplanes were taxiing down the runway ready for take off. I took a few photographs but grey skies, grey planes and murk don't make for good photographs. The sun kept trying to break through but it didn't finally make it until lunch time. The consequence of this was that most of the photos that made it into my keepers folder were from lunch time onwards. I more or less wrote the morning session off
One of the first photographs that I captured after lunch was a Typhoon Euro fighter that deployed the parachute on landing. Apparently it's not often that they do this so I was well pleased to capture this happening. What amused me about this is that they just release the parachute at the end of the runway and a couple of people in a pick up truck fly down the runway and gather it up by hand and bundle it into the back of the truck. Technology we have today I would have thought that the aircraft itself would have had some sort of device to automatically rewind the chute back to it's position ready to deploy again. Quite amusing watching it being gathered up by hand.
Euro fighter Typhoon with parachute deployed
The action after lunch was pretty constant with many landings and take off's happening both singly and in pairs. One of my favourite images of the day was this pair of Euro fighter Typhoon's side by side.
Pair of Euro fighter Typhoon's
RAF Coningsby is the home of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and a Dakota was soon trundling up the runway to it's take off position. The Dakota as anyone more knowledgeable about aircraft than I am will know that the Dakota has propeller's. The challenge of getting a photograph with the propeller's blurred and the plane itself in sharp focus is extremely difficult. You need a very slow shutter speed to blur the propeller which then makes it extremely difficult to get the moving plane itself in sharp focus. This is what I meant in my opening paragraph about completely different camera settings. However I learnt a lot. The Dakota did many touch and goes giving me plenty of opportunity to try different camera settings. I feel that I achieved the propeller blur and the plane in sharp focus a few times and the experience from this will give me a fighting chance of getting it even better next time. There is nothing looks worse on a photograph of a plane with a propeller than seeing the propeller as a black in focus cross. I think it destroys all sense of movement and atmosphere if the propeller is frozen like this.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Dakota
The next Battle of Britain plane to take to the air was the Spitfire. With a lot of trial and error, mostly error, I managed a few shots of this one that I was happy with. We also got very close views of the Dakota and Spitfire as they taxied back to the hangar after their flights.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire
The afternoon seemed to fly by and all too soon it was time to pack our gear away and head for home. Fish and chips in Horncastle were greatly enjoyed for our tea. A smashing day out and the weather did come good in the end. I'm looking forward to another day at this type of photography some time in the not too distant future. Thanks to David for the company today, I finish this post with a Euoro fighter Typhoon. There are many more images from today's outing that can be viewed on the main web site.
Euoro fighter Typhoon