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Yet more F-16s from Lakenheath.


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All,

 

I know there's already been a few posts from the 31st FW deployment to Lakenheath but here's my efforts from one early evening a week or so ago. This was during the 'late' surge so most of the 48th sorties and all the F-16s were launching late afternoon with the arrivals being after the sun has moved around to the North. This made shooting viable from the Northside as opposed to the normal practice of photographing from the South. I noticded the comments on the other threads concerning exposures and settings. My own pattern in recent years is to set up my own exposure and settings to purely manual as I find that any form of auto or even semi-auto settings result in the cameras own exposures varying widely. All these shots were taken in one hour but because the light level was constantly changing as the sun moved lower late in the day, I was always checking and changing the settings.

 

First pair had left with what looked like GBU-12s loaded and the lead ship brought one back.

 

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The No 2 was the only airframe on the deployment that was in the dark 'Have Glass' scheme. Now that is a swine to photograph.

 

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First time I've seen 493rd FS jets carrying SNIPER pods on the centreline.

 

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Single D model was cycling quickly, no doubt flying incentive rides.

 

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Hope I haven't gone over the top.

 

Gary

 

 

Edited by gary1701
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There are some very nice photos there and show some very interesting weathering on the fuselage.  The F-16s look very clean to just aft of the canopy where the panel lines start to become visible, whilst the Have Glass looks like a fresh factory paint job. Thank you for sharing these

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Great pics! The sun's just right, and the shots with the no 2 turning final in the background are really good.

 

Alan 

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1 hour ago, ColinChipmunkfan said:

Amazing photography, the clarity and detail is very good indeed. One thing that strikes me is how old the airframes are.

 

Thank you. Those F-16 airframes are block 40s and are 88/89 builds. When the AFRES unit at Homestead came over last year they brought even older block 30s!

 

Gary

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Excellent shots! It just amazes me that these planes can fly with all that stuff hanging underneath!

 

 

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Beautiful sharp shots. It sounds (and looks) like you are a "proper" photographer! I don't imagine too many people take manual control of their DSLR these days!

 

In the days of film, my late Dad was constantly using his exposure meter, so he would definitely have given you a big 👍!

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10 hours ago, Alpha Delta 210 said:

Beautiful sharp shots. It sounds (and looks) like you are a "proper" photographer! I don't imagine too many people take manual control of their DSLR these days!

 

In the days of film, my late Dad was constantly using his exposure meter, so he would definitely have given you a big 👍!

 

Thank you for the kind words. Going fully manual has come about because of seeing such variable results when shooting in the semi-auto modes. I always tended to shoot my airborne aviation images in shutter priority as I was mostly happy for the camera to set the aperture, but I wanted control over the shutter. I've never trusted myself to get sharp pictures with a slow shutter speed, unless shooting helicopters or props where the option is kind of taken away from you if you want some prop or rotor blur. So I used to shoot shutter priority but increasingly found that the aperture settings that the cameras were metering was all over the place, resulting in bright and over exposed to dark and under exposed from one frame to the next. The metering on the modern DSLRs seems to be so sensitive if I catch some glare or even a dark or bright patch where the camera is metering it throws the whole exposure off. I can track a F-15 at Lakenheath for example and find that a couple of frames will be fine, then the exposure is way off, adjusts back to normal and then throws itself off again. Some of it depends on the background and if the sky is variable as well. You can be sure that the sharp ones are the ones where the exposure is wrong as well! The solution was too find a exposure by taking test shots and then dialing in a manual exposure that was appropriate for the conditions. That way I know that the exposure will stay the same as I pan through the sky and aircraft. Off course, you have to take great care in setting that up as if you get it wrong then you've messed up the whole sequence. As I'm only using the rear screen and my eye I am constantly taking test shots and adjusting appropriately. Those shots above were all taken at aperture F6.3 with the shutter starting at 1/1000 and going down to 1/800 as the light level lowered. ISO started at 200 but also went out too 320 as time went. By doing that I am keeping the images more sensitive too light as the levels go down in the evening.

 

The other advantage to shooting manual and setting a shot up yourself is that this kind of shot cannot be  done on a auto or semi-auto exposure.

 

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Gary

 

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Hi @gary1701 those are some beautiful sharp shots you have taken there, and nice exposures.

 

On 27/09/2020 at 10:17, gary1701 said:

I noticed the comments on the other threads concerning exposures and settings. My own pattern in recent years is to set up my own exposure and settings to purely manual as I find that any form of auto or even semi-auto settings result in the cameras own exposures varying widely. All these shots were taken in one hour but because the light level was constantly changing as the sun moved lower late in the day, I was always checking and changing the settings.

 

I did have a chat with @wallyinoz about his photos and some of the equipment and techniques he uses. Could I ask what camera/lens you use? Thinking of upgrading my gear.

 

I'm putting together a few of my pictures to post up. Hope the Forum can take it :lol:

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Superb shots! It looks like you really lucked out with both the activity and the light at Lakenheath and most the best of the opportunity. The two Typhoon images, especially the first one are something else! I would be thrilled to get an image like that. What settings did you use for both please? 

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The Typhoon shots are incredible! Right place, right time, right exposure, right patience!

 

Thanks for sharing with us. 

 

Chris.

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Posted (edited)

Hi Gents,

 

Sorry a bit late coming back. The equipment used on the recent Lakenheath shots a few weeks ago were a Canon Eos 7D Mk II and a Canon 100-400L IS zoom lens, that's the older Mk I lens, not the new Mk II version. That lens is now 14 years old having been bought back in 2006. The Coningsby Typhoon shots were taken in 2016 for the first with the runway and the second silhouette was in 2013. Same lens but with the older Mk I  Canon Eos 7D. 

 

Both were shot on manual mode as detailed above. Obviously you've got to recognize the opportunity for the shot and position yourself accordingly. The actual camera set up is relativity straight forward. You need some time to set the exposure up, and you set a manual exposure (aperture/shutter speed/ISO) using the sun as a guide, forgetting the aircraft as you know that's going to be a silhouette. Take test shots, looking at the back of the camera and adjust the above settings until you have the light level and exposure that looks right with the sun in the viewfinder. The images will be completely black without the sun in the viewfinder and will only work when you pan with the subject as it passes through or near the sun. You have to predict your positioning very carefully in advance and hope that you've got it right as the sun moves quickly at dusk when you're zoomed in. 

 

The runway and Typhoon overshoot was set at aperture F8, shutter 1/800 and ISO 125 and was shot at 115mm on the 100-400 lens. The close silhouette was F11, 1/8000 and ISO 100 and was shot at 200mm. Note how fast the shutter speed was. As it was zoomed in I needed to reduce the light in the exposure as much as possible when the Typhoon passed through the sun.

 

Here's a couple more. This time Mildenhall looking North to South back in November 2006. Same kind of approach to the shot and even using the same lens but shot on a old Eos 350D

 

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Also Mildenhall but in May 2011 and from the open ground down by the landing lights at the 29 end. The eagle eyed will see this actually a AC-130U, not a Mildenhall resident. This shot was requested by the 4th SOS crew on this aircraft when they saw it online.

 

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Mildenhall MC-130 inbound on runway 11.

 

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Bit more recent, and January 2019, again at the 11 end as a three ship of SOG MC-130s conducted short interval landings and departures.

 

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A misty evening at Coningsby in March 2014 allowed this shot at dusk in a dusty sky.

 

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Wattisham Apache sitting at Woodbridge during 3 Regiments first Apache exercise in 2007. The usual combination then of Eos 350D and my long serving 100-400L.

 

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Another of the Coningsby overshoots. 

 

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That's a few from the collection. It's not something I specifically go and get, but I'm always aware of the opportunities for some dusk photography when out and about. Most of it is seeing it in advance, getting too the right spot in time rather than any real creative efforts with the camera.

 

Gary   

 

 

Edited by gary1701
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All of those sunset shots are off the scale! I particularly like the C130 in the distance with the sun partially obscured behind the clouds. 

 

Thanks very much indeed for your comments on settings and technique. I hope to be able to give it a go at some point and would be mucho pleased to get anything close to what you have achieved. 

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Hi,

 

Look forward to seeing it if you do have luck. It takes a lot of patience though. I made my first trip up to Coningsby from Suffolk with a digital camera in July 2006, yet I didn't get my first sunset shot until November 2013. In all that time I knew what I was looking for it was just I never had the right opportunity and combination of factors to get anything in that style. So it may be a long wait! Each airfield has it's own geography so some are easier than others. Coningsby is generally okay with the sun setting roughly in line with the runway around November and March time.  

 

Gary

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