Photo Tip Series – Photographing Air Shows


Written by Nathan Wertheimer

The next Photo Tip Series I will be writing about is air show photography. There are many air shows during the year in the United States. Check your local listings to find one in your area. In Central Florida, we have three air shows in the Spring every year. Each airshow is differs from one another. The joy of photography will bring one great memories from the air show.

For the best air show experience, one must do some pre-planning on your part. Purchase your tickets on-line along with a pre-paid parking pass. This will eliminate the hassles at standing in line for general admission ticket booth. Go to the airshow website to get more information on ticket prices. There will be long lines for general admission tickets at the gate on the day of the air show.

While at home planning your airshow day adventure, there are some items to bring. Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen, sunglasses / goggles, a hat, comfortable cloths, poncho, blanket, folding chairs, earplugs / ear muffs, a photo/video camera, and great walking shoes. It is recommended not to wear sandals. One will be doing a lot of walking at this event. An added reminder to wear pants because of the various winds and sand may kick-up at anytime on the flight line and in other areas too. Don’t over pack for the day. No one wants to lug a bunch a photo gear around all day.

As a Photojournalist, I recommend bring just one camera with two lenses. Don’t worry if you don’t have a super long lens like the pros do. The lenses I recommend bring is a 70-300mm telephoto lens, and a 18-55mm lens. Or bring an all-purpose lens such as the 28-300mm lens. You’ll be using the 70-300mm lens for the air show in the sky and the 18-55mm lens for the static aircraft displays. Another option is to bring an external Speedlight flash for photos inside some of the aircrafts. Some attendees even bring a tripod and or a monopod, and kneepads. Another reminder for your camera is don’t change your lens in the directions of the wind. The wind will blow in dust and other particles into your camera sensor that is exposed. When changing lenses, look for a good spot to change a lens and or put a towel over the camera and lens when making these lens changes.

It is recommended to arrive early at the airshow to photograph the static aircraft on the tarmac first. But, some attendees may differ from my point of view and think one should reserve a spot on the flight line on the ropes to see the aircraft move down the runway at show time. Almost all aircraft will take off and land on the far runway. Depending on the airshow, some airshows have more static aircraft displays than others. The most popular static aircrafts will have the most people around it. During the peak of the day, one may not get the best photos of the static aircrafts. One has a couple of choices when photographing the static aircrafts. Here are times to consider when to photograph these static aircrafts at beginning of the show, during the airshow, and towards the end of the day for the airshow when attendees are leaving.

Some attendees will have a chance meet and Greet with civilian and military pilots and crews. The US Navy Blue Angels and or the US Air Force Thunderbirds have a set time they come out and sign autographs on posters, books, clothing, and much more. This is a great photo opportunity to have your photo taken with one of these military pilots.

There is no set schedule when certain aircrafts will perform. The only exception is the featured air act performs last. Some of the featured air acts are either the US Navy Blue Angels and or the US Air Force Thunderbirds. These teams will perform assorted maneuvers overs the runway. The airshow announcer will call out the stunt they are performing.

Here are some other clues to help photographers on where the middle of the show takes place. This is where most of the aerial acts will perform right in the center of the airfield. Look for the yellow school bus parked in the middle of the airfield. There is almost always a yellow school bus parked in the airfield. Another clue to help a photographer is look at the person on the control tower stand to see what direction they are looking in. Most airshow photographers are informed ahead of time of when and where the aerial stunt will be performed.

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At the end of the air show many spectators will rush to get back to their vehicle and leave the airport. This might be the time to get the static aircraft displays with less people around. Why be stuck in traffic while one can continue to photograph some great static aircraft displays.

Next, one can’t wait to see what they captured at an airshow for the day. One might be surprised what they captured. Now all the fun starts to review all of one’s photos from the airshow on your computer. I recommend selecting only the best ones to sharpen and color correct and to publish on your social media accounts along with printing some images too. Be patient this may take some time to sort through the best photos.

I wish everyone happy photography to you. Thank you for reading this Photo Tip Series and check back again for some more Photography Tips Series in the future. If you like this article, then like it on our Otownfun WordPress account. For more great events and places please check us out at .

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