I spent the last two days doing event photography. The RC club of which I am a member holds an annual warbirds event. Both mornings provided some of the most challenging shooting conditions I've been in. Friday was especially rough as we had a silver gray overcast all morning and the way our flying field is set up, all the planes are backlit when flying before noon. Good metering was darn near impossible.
I did have the fortune to get to try out a Nikon D800. A good camera won't make up for a lousy photographer, but that camera takes some beautiful pictures. I wasn't even using it near its capability either. I was shooting at 20MP instead of 30 to help manage the amount of data I generated. Between the two days I shot well over 5000 images and about 1500 were worth keeping for one reason or another. Probably 100 are worth sending to be printed and there are a few that I'm going to have large prints done of.
I had two cameras with me: A D300s with a Nikkor 18-200 VR lens and the D800 with a Nikkor 70-200 VR F2.8 and a 1.4x teleconverter. Both lenses had circular polarizers on them. As I noted above, I was shooting mainly for the web so I was shooting JPEG on the highest quality setting with compression set for file priority on both cameras. Even so, I ended up with about 9GB of images. No post processing other that resize has been applied to any of these shots. There are all as they came from the camera. Both cameras had their color balance set to "vivid" and white balance set to auto.
Click for the full resolution versions....
You can see the very uniform, monochrome sky in the background...
I had the focus on the farther plane on purpose as I had been following him, but the way this image is framed I really wish it had been on the front plane.
This is one of the top five shots from the weekend. It was late in the day on Friday and the sun was low in the sky give a very nice soft yellow light.
These are big planes, most of them being over 80" wingspan, but tracking a even an object that size on a tight zoom 75' away when it is moving at 125mph+ takes some work. I really like the D800 and the F2.8 70-200 combo, but I can tell you, you'd better be in shape if you are going to lug that around all day. It's heavy.
Late in the day on Saturday, again, nice soft light.
This is the reason I shoot such a long lens on these events. Up close and personal with the danger...
This is another of the top five shots from the weekend and it came from the D300s. The light on both afternoons was just wonderful and enhanced an already beautiful Stearman.
This will give you some idea on the craftsmanship and detail that goes into some of these planes. Some of them are really museum quality pieces and then these guys go and bore holes in the sky with them.
Another of the top five. This is a rocket launched, RC controlled glider model of the SR-71. This was taken with the D300s. The one "failing" of the D800 is that it's continuous shooting speed is somewhat limited due to the size of the images. The D300s will take somewhere around 10 frames per second on high speed continuous mode.
Both cameras did an excellent job with focus and tracking, even with the high speeds and occasional lack of contrast.
This may be my favorite shot of the weekend. Saturday afternoon we had some be puffy clouds start building and they provided a wonderful background.
All in all, a fun weekend.