Monday, August 22, 2016

Pic(k) of the week 35: VIEW FROM THE LOUNGE - AIRBUS A380

As an airline pilot, I sometimes regret not having flown post World War II, in aircraft like the Douglas DC-3,-4,-6,-7, Lockheed Constellation and even the Boeing B707. Flying was still very different back then. Passengers used to dress up before they went on a flight, service was often top notch and some aircraft even had a lounge to relax during the longer flights... 

Well, it seems that some of that is at least coming back. The Airbus A380 I fly for living, has an excellent lounge area on the upper deck (Business/First class only). A great place to chill out and socialise, but also a perfect spot to frame an image of the graceful wings. With its 80 meter wingspan, the A380 is the largest passenger jet flying and as a pilot is an amazing bird to fly. Regularly flying with more than 600 people on board, it sometimes reminds me more of a cruise ship, than an airliner! 



Image details:
Fujifilm X-T2 with the 16-55 f2.8 lens
ISO 200, 39mm (60mm full frame equivalent), f5.6, 1/100s
SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) jpeg using the VIVID Film Simulation

More images of the A380 airliners can be found here

Orville Wright, which did the first powered flight in 1903, once stated: "No airplane will ever be able to fly from New York to Paris".  


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.

BJORN

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Pic(k) of the week 34: FINE-ART DESERTSCAPE - (Large Fujifilm X-T2 Prints)

When I first started using the word "Desertscape" several years ago, to describe the type of landscape photography I often do in the desert, I didn't realise it was kind of an official word... A quick look in an online dictionary tells me it is a "scenic view of the desert". 

Scenic is definitively not an understatement, if one wants to describe the spectacular images one can make in the desert East of Dubai. Often combining interesting patterns and shapes, it is one of my favourite forms of landscape photography.  

I normally see these desertscapes as a vivid color landscape image, I've been trying to come up with some interesting "fine-art black and white" photographs.  Although off-road driving is great fun, images can also be made along the public roads; a prime example being the one below!



Image details:
Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF16-55 f2.8 lens
ISO 800, f13, 1/160s, 42mm (63mm full frame equivalent)
RAW conversion in Lightroom CC
Nik SilverEfex 2 for Black and White conversion

In order to test the print quality of the new sensor used on the Fujifilm X-T2  and X-Pro2 cameras (review X-T2, review X-Pro2), I ended up making a 120cm (48inch) wide dibond print (special print on aluminium). The result looks absolutely amazing! 

More of my Desertscapes can be found here.

Remember: "Twelve significant images in a  year, is a good crop" - Ansel Adams


BJORN



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Pic(k) of the week 33: TIGERCAT F7F-3 AIRSHOW PHOTOGRAPHY

The first airshow I shot with the new Fujifilm X-T2 camera, was the 2016 edition of the Planes of Fame airshow in Chino, CA... Although the pre-production camera was not even close to its final firmware version at the time, there was no doubt that this little baby would rock when it comes to Airshow Photography. 

On the topic of this very specific kind of action photography, the great guy(s) of FUJILOVE, have published a 23 page article of mine, where I explain the ins and outs of Airshow photography. Please make sure that you pick up your copy of the e-magazine here!

One of the things I explain in detail, is how photographing propellor planes, can be very challenging; especially with the longer glass like the great XF 100-400 super telephoto. 

Back to my Pic(k) of the week. The image below of a Grumman Tigercat F7F-3; a twin engined WWII era fighter, was made during a high speed (more than 700km/h) pass. It was the first time I saw a Tigercat flying. Quite a sight and what a great sound these two R2800 radial engines make.

Planes of Fame airshow 2016, Chino, CA

IMAGE DETAILS:
Fujifilm X-T2 (pre-production) with XF 100-400 super telephoto lens
ISO 200, f13, 1/400s, 153mm
RAW file development in Lightroom CC
Nik ColorEfex pro with Pro Contrast filter


Towards the end of the month, I will publish part 3 in the series: FUJIFILM GOES FLYING. While part 1 dealt with Air to Air photography and Part 2 was all about Aerial images. The last one will be about guess what... Airshow Photography.


Till then, happy shooting,





Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Pic(k) of the week 32: Mussel farms aerial, Normandy | Fujifilm X-T2 goes flying

Early July, I set off for a weeklong photo-flying adventure in my 1954 Piper Super Cub, along the coastline of Normandy, part of Brittany and Alderney (Channel islands). Even though it was foremost a holiday, it turned out to be a great trip for Aerial photography as well!

Shooting the new Fujifilm X-T2, I used my trusty aerial photography lens; the XF 18-135. I've blogged about this lens, which I now almost exclusively use  when shooting the world from above, here.

The different patterns is what interests me most in my aerial photography; a great example below is an image shot from a few thousand feet, of some of the mussel farms along the Normandy coast (close to Pirou plage). I was intrigued by the spectacular rock formations and mussel farms in the top of the image. The great azure blue makes the image even more stand out to me!

Knowing that this part of France has the largest variations in the tide (up to 15m / 50ft), we timed our photoshoot with the low tide in order to get a more interesting image. 

I already stated it in my X-T2 review (click here for more), but I'm really impressed how Lightroom CC (and Adobe Camera RAW) now reveals fine detail in the new X-Trans III files. Make sure, you check out the image full screen for the best viewing experience!


Image details:
Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF 18-135 lens
ISO 200, 1/500s, f5.6, 44mm (66mm full frame equivalent) 
Lightroom CC for RAW file development

Over the years, my Aerial photography gallery has grown into an interesting project. More views from above can be found here

Time permitting, I'll try to blog about the entire trip, but one can definitively expect one or two other Pic(k)'s of the week from France, in the near future. 

Remember: "You haven't seen a tree, until you have seen its shadow from the sky" - Amelia Earhart

BJORN


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM - Beijing, China

Last week, I visited the China Aviation Museum, while I was on a 30hr layover in Beijing. Although I'm not a huge fan of museums that only have static (non-flying) aircraft, this one had been on my radar for a while...  Generally speaking, I much rather prefer "flying museums" like Planes of Fame and the Yanks museum in Chino, CA, which keep a number of aircraft in airworthy condition, but this one is definitively worth a visit. 


CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China

The biggest obstacle so far had been finding a reasonable way to get there! Given Chinese taxi drivers do not speak any form of English, explaining where one wants to go to, can be a challenge; especially since most people from Beijing are not familiar with the place.


CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China



Of all places, it was through a recent post on Tripadvisor, that I found a reasonable way to get there; hopefully without getting lost. It consisted of a one hour metro ride from the city center, followed by a 20min bus ride! First, one needs to find his way to the "SAHE" metro station on the Changping line (pink); a relative easy task. Take the B1 exit and then follow the main road to the right for about 500m. Take the 945 bus (2 yuan - no change) which has a dedicated stop close to the entrance of the museum but which is not announced in English. I suggest using an app like "CityMaps2Go"; to keep track where to get off using a off-line GPS moving map! From the bus stop, one can walk the 1.5km along the "taxiway" which connects the nearby military airbase with the museum grounds, or can take a 10 yuan "tuktuk" ride. 



CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China


On a side-note, on the way over there I could not find the place where to get on the bus and ended up hiring a tuktuk. Giving him directions through my iPhone app, he wasn't really pleased when we ended up on the highway with the three-wheeler! But we got there... On the return, it became clear that I didn't walk far enough after exiting the station at B1!


click on the map for a full size view

The museum consists of four main areas; 
  1. outside area with aircraft, missiles and artillery being displayed (free)
  2. inside museum with a lot of historic aircraft and relics (20yuan)
  3. 600m long tunnel through and adjacent mountain with aircraft parked on both sides (20yuan)
  4. aircraft graveyard (free)

1/ Outside area
On entering the museum, one immediately comes to a large open space which is covered with a large variety of aircraft. Some of the signs have some limited English translations, such as the one for this Mig-15 below.

CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China

Although I can pretty much recognise most of the Worlds military and civil aircraft, my plane spotting skills proved to be a challenge here! A lot of the aircraft are Russian (and even US) licence built and carry a specific Chinese designator.


CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China

 

CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China


CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China


2/ Inside museum
Typical for most aviation museums, they often want to cramp in too many aircraft in too little space; not great for photography. Although not different, it still proved to be worth paying the 20yuan (3,-USD) admission as there was a lot of interesting stuff on display. A Xian H-6A, license built Tu-16 bomber, dominates the scene. 
CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China

CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China



Although none of the signs inside the museum are translated in English, looking at the pictures, there seems to be also a bit of Cold War propaganda going on. Such is probably the case with the display of the remains of this 1960's US Lockheed D-21 drone, which crash landed on Chinese soil! 

CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China



3/ Tunnel
Probably the weirdest place of the museum is a 600m long tunnel with an entrance at both sides. During the Cold War, it was used to keep aircraft safe, deep underground. The contrast with the hot and humid (around 30C) weather outside with the cold air inside the tunnel, was quite dramatic. 


CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China

One gets to the eastern entrance, by walking between 30 or so parked fighter jets along a wide taxiway; a nice photo-opportunity!

Inside there is a large variety (estimated around 60-70) of Chinese, Russian and Western aircraft from a WWII Mark XVI Spitfire through a YAK-17 (early 1940's jet) to an Italian F-104 Starfighter. 


CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China


CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China
The tunnel is extremely dark and not really suitable for photography; even shooting at ISO 6400 it remained a challenge!


CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China



4/ Aircraft graveyard 

Likely the most interesting place is the graveyard to the North. It has about 20 to 30 aircraft in a different states of disrepair and given it is isolated, is not really known by most of the visitors. 
CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China


Most of the aircraft are easily accessible, such as this LI-2 (Russian built DC-3) which I climbed in. In wet weather this area does get very muddy; don't ask how I know please...


CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China



A rare bird was this Nanchang Y5-C; a Chinese floatplane variant of the Russian Antonov An-2.


CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China


There is also a nice collection of Russian helicopters on display, next to the graveyard.


CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China



Conclusion
Visiting the China Aviation Museum, which is the largest aviation museum of Asia, turned out to be a great photo-adventure; something I would recommend to any Aviation Geek and/or photographer! One can easily spend 4 to 5 hours browsing through the different areas and I unlike myself I would recommend staying away from visiting during the hot and humid summer months (July-August). In any case, wear comfortable walking shoes, as one will easily walk +10km, if you check out all of the 300 or so aircraft on display. 

CHINA AVIATION MUSEUM, Beijing, China


All of the published images of my trip can be found in the China Aviation Museum gallery.

Although better maintained, the museum has a lot of similarities to the Russian Air Force museum in Monino, close to Moscow. A link can be found here.

For you gear heads, all of the images were shot with the new Fujifilm X-T2; reviewed here



Happy shooting,
BJORN