Aviation and stuff

As you can see, I am also a bloke who likes to fly for fun. not only do I like photographing aircraft, but Im a pilot as well..

Aviation is our "other" passion in life, and we seek to take great photos primarily for our own enjoyment.

We love to take shots of aircraft, typically the historic aircraft and try to attend the Temora Aviation Museum as often as we can as well as Avalon and Point Cook air shows as well.

Not only do we love photographing these magnificent aircraft, but we are also passionate about flying.

One of my better attempts; During Warbirds Downunder at Temora, The Spitfire Mk 8 keeps low on takeoff while cycling the gear...  This is one of my favourite shots I have ever done.

These were shot with a 400mm manual focus ED lens - hand held- at around 1/125 second.

While the heavy metal is still shot using the 400mm,  the shutter speed is upped to around 1/1000 second.

Notice the reverse thrusters wide open!   By the way, these General Electric engines can shift the Boeing 777 from 0 to 100kmh in six seconds... not bad considering thats 351 Tonnes at take off

Occasionally, we get out the Nikon gear and just take photos for the love of it.

A while ago, we went to see family at Coffs Harbour, and decided to explore the area. This is Crystal Shower, one of the most unusual waterfalls ever. You can walk behind it.

On the tech side, it was a Nikon D70s (Yes, the one with a 7 megapixel chip) hand held with my favourite 18mm rectalinear corrected Nikkor that cost new around $3500 in the late 1980s. Metering was matrix and the shutter was 1/20 sec hand held at 400ISO. Many folks scoff at a 7Mp chip, but this photo has enlarged to A0 without any visible grain, and looks brilliant in our lounge

One of the latest fads is HDR, where you take three identically framed shots at three different exposures and then let the computer do its white mans magic.   Im new to HDR, but have spent a lifetime in a wet darkroom , and tend to stick to manipulating an image the old fashioned way... So, with Photoshop as the digital darkroom,  using the traditional wet darkroom methods, I paint my photos with light, so they truly come to represent the mood there.

Thats what Ive done with the shot of Loch Ard Gorge. I have really darkened up the sky, but only added a vignette around trhe image to darken off the border. In the days where we would use a FILM based camera, we would use a piece of card with the centrre cutout to darken the edges.

The funny thing is, Ive got a HDR type of artifact on the cliff top at the left.  Looking close at the original, the artifact is there.

The Loch Ard was a ship bound for Melbourne with passengers and cargo, when in 1878 it fell foul of the  reef at Muttonbird Island, near Port Campbell.  She had 54 on board; only two survived..

These are the Tristania Falls, not far from Coffs Harbour.  Lens was a Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8. Hand held at 1.15 sec.. I did not have the space to have a tripod with me, and am pretty lucky to get this one. It looks black and white to first glance.. but the vegetation shows otherwise.  No manipulation here.

Hand held at 1/3 second, the new range of Vibration reduction lenses from Nikon certainly are brilliant.

This was on the way home from a day out. The setting sun had passed the boulder and was fair and square on the granite wall.. Victoria certainly has it all!

A day trip to Queenscliffe on Port Phillip bay gave some interesting stuff with the wide angle VR lens.. even in the rain!

Photoshop..... yes, 
We process our piccies in Photoshop, but we apply the techniques that you would use in a traditional 'wet' darkroom, that is, lightening and darkening (or dodging and burning) areas, fine tuning the colour balance and making the picture look just like it was on the day.  Other optical effects such as vignetting are done in post, but we used to do that 'in camera' with cardboard mattes to vignette the scene.

The Historic Ross Bridge and environs in Beautiful Tasmania

Once a hell hole and the Colditz of a convict colony, the ruins of Port Arthur in Tasmania are haunting.

Okay.. I admit to tweaking the sky in this one.. the light halo around the towers is the giveaway... but the sky was that moody... the colours that vivid..    By the way, this is the prison hospital at Port Arthur in Tasmania. I guess its what the public health system of today will look like, given what Cantberra proposes...

Shot with A Nikon film camera, and a graduated blue filter at the top.. and a bit of a grey grad inverted at the bottom.

Shot handheld on film with a Nikon F4E with a 400mm ED lens.

Sometimes you are stuck without a camera except for the one in the phone... this is from an OLD Blackberry..

Surgically attached;  Busy filming at Avalon airshow. Pic; Jen Clark

Hobart as seen from the top of Mt Wellington. This is 3600ft above sea level (close enough) and its the usual height at which I like to fly.... Not often do you get a chance to have feet on ground at that altitude!  This was with a Nikkor 18mm ED lens.

Hallidays Pt, North coast of NSW at sunrise. Yes... I occasionally like to get up before sunrise..
The bird is a sea eagle out for breakfast. Shot with a D200 with 400mm on a monopod.

This is Judy Pay's P-51 Mustang in its original colour scheme of 75Sqn RAAF at wheels up during the Tyabb Air Show in March 2014.  All pix with the 400mm ED

Temora Aviation Museum's Spitfire Mark 8 at Tyabb.

Owned by the RAAF,  and restored by the Temora Aviation Museum the Sabre - the first one to be in flying condition in decades this Sabre was last used by 75 Sqn RAAF.

Not what it seems... one is in front of the other during the Tyabb airshow

This was an impromptu display not even on the books, but done anyway.. a current issue 75 Sqn Hornet in  formation with an old colleague, Judy Pay's 75 Sqn Mustang at Tyabb... We have sent a copy of the pic to 75 Sqn to say thanks..

Another two 75 sqn RAAF living legends.. the RAAF/Temora Air Museum's Sabre and Judy Pay's Mustang formate during Point Cook 2014.   As a sidenote, the shutter was 1/1000 sec. Notice how the Mustangs prop is 'frozen'?  Thats why I strive for slow shutter speeds on propellor driven aircraft..

I really love this Jen Clark photo of my video camera.. This is the lens with associated stuff like Matte Box and follow focus.  It was taken during a film shoot for a local indie movie producer, where we supplied the lighting, camera, external monitors and radio mics.  By the way, this was shot with available light.

A rare sight.. A Yak 52 taildragger. This one at Shepparton airport, blowing smoke during engine runup prior to taxiing for runway 18. This was shot with an 18-55 at 55mm. Yes. I was on the taxiway... walking to another plane for a flight.

A day off, and we decided to head to the hills... literally. Mt Buller in spring for a picnic.  Jen lent me her new VR 300mm Nikkor lens, and I had to have a play.  With everything set to auto on the D80 this is the result with one of the locals.

En route to the mountain for a picnic, we stopped off at the Mt Buller gates... and this scene was there.   This is with a Nikon D80 and VR 70-300 Nikkor lens.  Its "unshopped" and is as true to what the eye saw as you can get.

We went to Emu Bottom near Sunbury, and this glistening path popped up...

One of the planes I fly, and perhaps my favourite, a Tecnam P92 Echo at 3500ft beetling along at 105knots with Lake Boga directly ahead.   This two seater is the same size (well, near enough) as a Cessna 152, has the same horsepower but half the fuel burn - at 20l/hr. 

This great abstract landscape is by Jen Clark and was shot on one of our flights together - this time over Waranga Basin in Victoria.

Gratuitous mugshot; Courtesy of jen who bought me a Tiger Moth ride in the Yarra valley. Once the pilot realised I flew, he became the instructor, and  let me fly from shortly after takeoff right through to joining the circuit.   Sweet!  D200 with 70-300

Yes, we can easily copy slides to digital... This was shot on Kodachrome 200 around 20 years ago.
Balls Pyramid, located near Lord Howe island.

One of the GREAT things about Echuca is that every fortnight an L29 Albatros comes in to do joy flights, and can make for a great 'ready made' aviation practice session.  This was with the 400mm at 1/1000 sec  and features one very lucky guy taking off on a combat patrol...

Temora Showcase Day, July 2014. TAM Pilot Doug Hamilton prepares to get into the Mk 16 Spitfire on a cold wintry day for an exhibition flight between showers.  Shot with the 80-200 ED (now over 20 years old) at 1/800 sec.  This evokes Churchill's speech to me, the one where he thanked The Few.

A gratuitous shot of Doug Hamilton starting up the Mk 16 Spitfire, shot with the 400mm from the same spot as the above pic.  Love the rainwater shaking off the cowling!
The Temora Aviation Museum have published this shot.

RAAF 2 Conversion Sqn Ldr Paul Simmons takes the RAAF/TAM Sabre through its paces during the July 2014 Showcase day.  This was a spirited display that showed how agile and formidable the Sabre was .. Shot with the 400mm hand held at 1/1000 sec from the same spot as the Mk 16 Spitfire shot, above.

Only a couple of minutes beforehand, shot with the 400mm from roughly the same spot as the above shots, Sqn Ldr Paul Simmons jokes with the ground crew as he straps into the RAAF/TAM Sabre.

I prefer to be behind the camera, but this is one shot I could NOT resist.. me flying a Boeing 737... in the left seat.

Well... almost. Its a CASA approved sim flight centre in Melb that does offer 60 minute sim sessions.  For this flight, we are heading from Melb to Avalon (ten mins flight or an hours drive) and are flying fully manual.. that is, autothrottle off, altitude hold off... and the workload was incredible. My PPL instructor says to have your head five minutes of where you are, but with a 737 weighing 79 tonnes at take off, you have to be ten mins ahead..

Perhaps the greatest aircraft ever designed.. Reg Mitchell's Spitfire. This is the Mark VIII owned by Temora Aviation Museum  on takeoff at Avalon.. This and the next few are shot with the 400mm hand held...

TAG, YOU'RE IT!  Not quite what it seems, but an image resulting from forced perspective due to the 400mm

USAF Bone... specifically designed to deliver nukes at Mach 2...  Avalon 2007

Weeks after it came off the secret list, the Army's Tiger ground attack helo makes its public debut at Avalon

Sadly the last image of the iconic F111 doing its trademark dump and burn at Avalon 2007.

Two for the price of one!  Not quite what it seems, but this is me completing my 2014 Biannual Flight (fright) Review - and it was the first time Jen let loose with her new Nikkor 80-400 VR zoom!
This lens is soo sweet and easy to use!

More gratuitous metal.. this time a Saab of Rex airlines coming in over the fence for Runway 16.. shot with the 400mm.

No longer seen. Since Virgin Australia's change of livery from fire engine red to white, this Boeing 737 series 800 coming in on short finals at Tullamarines Runway 34. Again shot with the 400mm

Windsock.. oh wait!   This was real, and it was at Gunbower strip for quite a while.. Until Flight Safety magazine ran a comp for the most oddball windsock... and they published the pic!  Funny thing is, within a week of publication, this interesting  wood board arrangement was replaced with a kosher windsock!!   Shot with an 80-200mm

Point Cook 2012.. warbirds and a baby all lined up.   80-200mm

The Southern Knights in their Harvards at Point Cook 2012.   The noise is wonderful as the propellor tips are travelling supersonic..  400mm

Steve Death's Harvard... nice daily ride.  400mm ED Manual Nikkor

A visiting Trojan in Royal Thai markings  400mm Nikkor ED

The worlds ONLY airworthy Hudson, owned by the Temora Aviation Museum at engine start..

And minutes later in the sky above Temora..

Just near the Temora airport is another feature.. the Jet Boat racecourse...

both shot with the Nikkor 400mm ED manual focus

False colour... Shot near Safety beach Ive done what most photoschools are doing and overprocessed the scene to 'buggery'  This was a nice sunset  just gone but looks like a volcano exploding...  overprocessed colour is the fashion at the moment. May it die a quick death and return to what nature gave us...

Same as the above... shot with an 18mm Nikkor

Then there are days when you are at the beach.. Point Nepean, and you only have the phone camera with you.... and yes.. its tweaked to pretty much what I saw.

 Shot 'as is' but using a polariser... The 64 metre telescope at Parkes, NSW

A day off with St Johns... and to prevent boredom settling in, Jen lent me her new 80-400VR Nikkor...

I shot these in RAW, and sadly as soon as the card filled (16Gb), the camera died... electrical burning smell from the card slot..  Pix a bit fuzzy as these were the low res ones I did .  The hi res are 300dpi and 40cm tall.

Miss Tess (above) and Miss Kitty were the test subjects for my first foray with RAW.. The big things were the tenfold increase in data, and a smidge of finer tone detail compared with the JPG 2000 compression... It still comes down to how sharp is the lens.. and these were done with Jens new 80-400VR....

The next few were from Avalon 2015, with shots from the Friday night show and the saturday performance as well..  Again with Jens 80-400VR.

Classic hornet with backside on fire... twilight.

The jet powered glider at night.

WW1 display with two british fighters about to get pounced.

Sad; Until Martin Baker pull their finger out and maintain support for the RAAF, the RAAF/TAM Sabre will be grounded.. this shot on its third last flight.

The worlds ONLY airworthy Hudson on takeoff with gear cycling.

Last time it was called Tinstix, this year sponsored by Oris watches.. Pity they flew BEHIND the wall of fire. Pity they stuffed the timing up...

Proving dogs can walk on water....  meet Amy (Amelia) the newest member of the family. She is a kelpie Border Collie cross and has an IQ of about 5000. At the age of seven months (in this pic) she is doing things most two year old pooches are just figuring out.  Mind you that's due to intensive training by Jen.    For the tech minded it was shot on the D200 using the 70-300 AF, VR ED lens - hence its so crisp.  400ASA, 1/1000 sec at f5.6 shot on an overcast day at Balnarring Beach

And proving she also can fly..... same lens and camera setup as above.. but at Kings Park.

Point Lonsdale beach at sunset with a firesky...  shot with the D200 and the now antient 80-200 AF Nikkor f2.8

The focus is soft because this is a low res version.. The Queenscliff Inn in, well, Queenscliff Victoria. Shot with the 18mm f3.5 Nikkor on the D200.  I have to give this place a measly 10 out of 10...
That was until the owners decided to cater for the hipsters, ripping out the victorian charm. Now I score it zero out of ten.

Judy Pay's Mustang in 3Sqn colours

Alan Arthur's P40

AVRO cadet at Point Cook

Temora Aviation Museum's Gloster Meteor. The ONLY one flying in the world today

RAAF Roulettes doing what they do best.

Sopwith at Point Cook

Beech Staggerwing at engine start

When will we see this again?   The Mustang, Meteor and Sabre in flight together... lets hope the RAAf can sort out the Martin Baker ejection seat spare parts and support issue as soon as possible to get her back in the sky.

Wedgetail with gear cycling.

An RAAF MRRT (Converted A330) designed to carry self loading cargo and mid air refuel) shows one method of refuelling at Point Cook

CAC Wirraway at Point Cook

Memo to the Lightroomers who oversaturate and destroy their photos... this is HOW it was.  Yep. this is the colour saturation that was before the lens..

Okay.. another seagull picture, and this one comes with wafers;   Playing around with the D200 and the 70-300 AF, VR ED lens with the camera just set to auto and dynamic focus - same settings I used for Amy's pic above -  Now I'm fast becoming a convert to this lens. For starters it can focus faster than I can, and I used to shoot footy with a manual focus 400mm.... and it weighs in at less than  a pocket full of film. (remember that stuff?) and its easier to use.

Basketball heads;  The wheelie basketballers are a serious bunch and take no prisoners on the court.
This was with the D200 and the f2.8 80-200 AF ED indoors at 1/90 sec, f5 at 1600 ASA. The red skin tones are from light reflecting off a red wall.

This game is so fast its hard to keep up following it with a camera.  Again a D200 with 80-200f2.8 ED at f5, 1/90 sec.  

Day at Cape Otway Lighthouse and they had a colouring in comp.... so my entry went in as a Dalek.  Well whaddaya expect?  

This stunning Hunt pic is by my mega talented cousin Michelle Smith, and was shot on her phone.  She left her decent camera (HER words) back at home before heading out on the hunt.  This pic shows that its the person using the camera that's the really important bit.

More Plane Porn ahead;

Not long ago, Tyabb had its 2016 airshow.. which means a concerted effort to clear camera cards for space, make sure the bazzillion batteries are charged, and make sure everything is working...

This session, I was using Jen's 300mm VR Nikkor lens, and I wanted to do some reeeally slow shutter shots.  So slow the background has a lateral blur.  Pror to Vibration Reduction, there was a one in ten million chance of me getting a half decent shot. Even with it, its still hit and miss.

Consider this; you need to have the shutter open for about 1.15th of a second, ensuring that you're panning the camera with 100% accuracy, so there is no 'camera shake' effect or blur on the subject, ensure the exposure is right and make the cut...

Sorta like this;

and a second or so beforehand the TAM Spitfire looked like this;

The great thing about this technique is the stunning result it gives, even when done to a halfarsed standard as above...  You cant do this in photoshop!
This pic took second place in the Whittlesea Show 2016.

Tyabb was also the airshow debut of the Corsair, which took to the skies after 12 or so years restoration, and three million dollars..

In addition to the Corsair, Tyabb was the airshow debut of the  Grumman Avenger.

Judy Pay's CAC Mustang in 3Sqn RAAF colours lands at Tyabb.

Jen shot this on her phone.. so the quality isn't there.
BUT this would be one of the most comfortable seats I have ever sat in... an ex RAAF F-111 fighter bomber pilot seat.   At HARS museum at Albion Park, Wollongong.

QANTAS A330 getting things sorted for a flight from Sydney to Perth.  

Seconds after takeoff at Sydney, their 737-800 in retro colours looks nice with everything tucked away.

As it approached sunset at Mascot, things turned atmospheric..

Soooo gonna approach Vergin with this shot.. Just love that wingtip vortex... Shot about a minute or so after the above shot.  Shows how changeable the weather and light was!

It was a cold murky sunset at Tullamarine when we caught up with one of the two retro roo's, this (as earlier) is Boeing 737 series 800 VH-VQX painted in the mid 60s colour scheme..  D200 with 300mm handheld

Big Bugger; Qatar Airlines Boeing 777 extended range A7-BAH  comes in over the fence at Tullamarine on a cold winter sunset..  D200 with 300mm hand held

Oh the serenity;  We took off for Queenscliff in the middle of winter, and go a couple of sunny days (gasp shock, horror!) and while on the bay cruise liner, er, Sorrento ferry we saw one of the bays Dolphin pods..  D200 with 300mm, cropped.

Point Lonsdale. One of my favourite beaches.  300mm handheld, tweaked in photoshop

On the ferry, its a good time to practice rapid response work as used with airshows... This Gull was only too happy to oblige. 

Using the Sorrento ferry as a mobile platform, it was also a good time to practice the rule of thirds and simplistic placement of subject.... with no time to mess around.  It was either get on with the job, pre conceive the image then make it happen. or forget it as the moment would be gone.

    Hmmm. I should enter this one in the artyfarty Whittlesea show, as it has all things just right - even something in red at the 1/3 mark!
Nikon D200 with 300mm handheld.

From the Pt Lonsdale lighthouse, the Pilot Boat heads to meet a customer wanting to avoid being wrecked at the Rip... D200, 300mm howling gale.

Imagine stepping out of the back door and you are greeted with this. No photoshopping here... Its at the Cottage By The Sea at Queenscliff, and its 205 paces from the gate to the water...


The following were shot during Avalon 2017 on both the Friday night and saturday showcases.
The camera was a Nikon D200 with either a 55-300 AF, ED VR Nikkor or the 18-55 VR, ED Nikkor, and pretty well uncropped.

 It may not be able to hit a car parked on the taxiway directly in front of it, but at least the F35 is flying, and not just a papier mache version... Straight after takeroff on the saturday, the burner is lit... note the maisn doors cycling.

 And the F35 can turn, on the saturday doing a high speed 9G turn with the afterburner lit.

 On the Friday it was really humid, around 90%, which meant that Ectoplasm, as its nicknamed, was going to be on show... The F22 Raptor grew a beard  on this high speed pass

 Tin Stick... Skip Stewart  in his biplane and Jurgen in his Sukhoi got into position and flew down the runway while the fuel cans were lit to give this flaming backdrop.

 All stacked up... Four RAAF classic Hornets from 2OCU get stacked tightly.

 With its own stealth cloud, the F22 Raptor in a 9G turn gets covered in ecto...

 With its own clouds... the F22 Raptor on a high speed pass down the flightline

 Tin Sticks..  the twilight version. On the Friday night show.

 Three of the four Southern Knights in their Harvards performing at twilight. Shot with the 18-55 VR ED.

 The Connie at the friday nightshow. Note the flames from the exhaust ports.

Connie taking off at the night show, with flames belching from the exhaust ports.

 No Avalon air show is without the Temora Aviation Museum  contribution of the Mk8 spitfire.

A bit crossed over...

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Temora Showcase
October 2017

Its been a little while since I updated...
Whats new? well, Jen lent me her 80-400 Nikkor, and I was sooo danged impressed that I bought one.

That lens is so bloody sharp you can shave with it.

Here are a few shots from the Temora Aviation Museum showcase...

All shots; Nikon D200, Nikkor 80-400mm, 1/640 sec. 400 ASA. RAW format.

The Mark 16 at full throttle

 The Mark 16 at full throttle in a topside pass

A historic moment. Not one, but TWO spitfires warming up, while the Gloster Meteor Mk 8 lands in the distance

Follow the leader; Another rare sight, as the Mk8 and Mk 16 Spitfires fly in formation.

Rare sight; the museums two spitfires in formation over Runway 18.

The Wirraway comes in for a high speed pass on Runway 36

The Museum's Boomerang

Steve Death in his Harvard coming out of a loop.

Another rare sight; the Museums two Spitfires with the Gloster Meteor Mk 8 

The Gloster Meteor Mk 8 at full throttle in a low, high speed pass.

Training days, The Museum's Tiger Moth trainer with the Ryan 

Keeping an eye.  This modified cessna 337, called an O2A saw action in Vietnam as a forward air control aircraft.

Another look at Steve Death's Harvard

The meteor in a hard left turn

The pair of Spitfires in a hard left turn.  So far, these are the ONLY two Spitfires flying in Australia, even though some more are being restored.


From a 2007 trip to Tassie to catch up with old friends Bruce and Rosemary Prior. This was on the beach at Wynyard.

Folks ask us why the Video business is called ITC Productions.  Well, here is the answer.
Izzy (now gone to the great video edit suite in the sky) would lie across my arms during an edit session. 

She would watch the screen and turn her head and tell me (well... okay..) where to make cuts.. it was as though she was the exec producer..  So, when NINE News signed me up, I had to register the business... So Izzy The Cat became ITC..   

Now as for why the main business is called The Amazing Picture Factory, well, I guess thats easy to figure out considering I had to supply a couple of newspapers with their images!

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