Every year, the Blue Angels go to the El Centro Naval Air Field and begin practicing for their busy year of air shows across the country. And, it just so happens that I have been in the area for the past couple of years and have had a chance to take a few photos of the Blues as they perform. There's quite a loyal following that sits on the dirt road behind the runways and watches, listens to scanners, and takes video and photos. Most of their adventures are posted on a great website and forum dedicated to air shows - Airshow Buzz .
So, there I was, arriving a little late that morning with the Blues already in the air. We got to our spot on the dirt road and I jumped out and immediately started firing away. My camera of choice this time was my Canon 60D with 70-200 F4 L Lens. I do have a 300mm and 500mm lens but opted to stay with the L lens because of its quality optics (and the Blues are usually not that far away). I set the camera to AI Servo for the focusing, shutter priority, ISO 400. Shutter priority allows me to set the shutter and the camera adjusts the aperture. With the speed of the Blues I opted for a fast shutter speed in order to stop the action.
The action overhead was sometimes fast, and usually pretty loud. Sometimes it seemed like the Blues were everywhere at once, and then nowhere. I took over 400 shots in a very short amount of time. Some were great, some ok, and some were total crap. But that's ok, it happens. Fortunately I had a 16gb SD card because I had the camera set to take RAW images rather than Jpg's. I did this intentionally for additional post editing capabilities.
This kind of action will test your abilities. Can you pan your subject and press the shutter at just the right time to get that perfect shot? Or, can you adjust your camera on the fly and not miss anything. Did you bring enough memory cards and batteries. The good thing is if you missed a shot, its no big deal. In this case, the Blues would fly again in the afternoon, and you could always try again. Now if the was a wedding and you missed a shot, well - your screwed, sorry. So, the message is to know your gear and be able to use it without fiddling around when its show time! I can't wait till next year!!
Here are some of the shots from that morning:
Until next time - happy shooting!