No Plane, No Gain

I am continuing to scour the three thousand photos I took at Wings Over Houston last weekend for shots that might be unique from what other photographers captured. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of photos from the event that have been uploaded to various airshow and aviation websites, and yep, I’m still seeing a lot of “my” photos over and again, including several with the Blue Angels passing over the moon – although none of those look quite like the one I captured. As I see more and more shots from others, I get a better idea of which pictures I’d like to process, like this one:


This was the narrator of the Blue Angels performance; I popped this shot off real quick for no good reason but ended up liking the color and composition of it. Don’t know if I would have liked it as much had he been wearing the traditional blue flight suit, because I love the bright yellow against that rather dull background.

I didn’t so much love this next shot, but I was impressed with the aircraft so I wanted to share at least one:


The propellers on this thing were massive; when at rest they looked almost as big as the fuselage of the plane. They also swivel, so the aircraft can fly either as a plane or a helicopter. It was definitely an impressive thing to watch, but a damned ugly thing to photograph. I was so excited to see it fly but when looking at the photos I couldn’t work up much energy to process any of them; I had to force myself to do this one. Moving on.


I liked the color and composition of this one, but I admit to having been too lazy to look up exactly what planes these are. It’s been tricky for me, processing shots of planes where the subject is so small; I’m used to getting right up on a plane as it lands like I’ve done in the past with commercial jets, but these were much higher in the sky and farther away than the planes I capture at airport observation areas. So even though these felt tiny to me, I found other things to appreciate. Also, I wasn’t able to slow my shutter speed down enough to blur the motion of the propellers; I tried, but my camera was still stopping the blades. If I’d slowed down the shutter any more, though, everything would have been blurry, so I quit trying.


Ah yes, I do know what these warbirds are – a B-17 and a Mustang P-51 (a TF-51D, actually, but I prefer to call it a P-51 because it sounds better). I’m so bummed there were no clouds in the sky as that would have really helped to project a sense of flying here; it almost looks like a shot of planes set against a light blue background, like an ad in a paper or something. I tried to cheat and add some clouds as a layer but it looked awful, so plain boring blue non sky-like background it is.

At times, though, the planes made their own clouds:


Again, such a small subject but at last, some texture to the sky! That’s a A6M2 Zero, by the way, a Japanese WWII fighter plane.

And now, for a few more Blue Angels shots:


This is one of those shots that’s been replicated a thousand times over, but at least mine is nice and crisp. And holy hell, how do those pilots not die doing this sort of thing? Amazing.

Now this one is a little weird:


I actually took the shot while focusing through a chain-link fence, and if you look at it from afar you can see the fence’s diamond pattern against the shot. It’s very big and blurry, but it’s there. Because of that, I edited the hell of it, adding an HDR filter through Photoshop and intensifying the color. It’s a little odd-looking and I’m not sure I like it, but at least it’s something different from the usual.

That’s all I’ve had time this week to edit, but in other news: SANDY’S BACK! She had surgery in mid-August and was not cleared to go back to massaging until October 20th, but I haven’t had time to get to her until this week. I knew I was in for an entertaining session when she told me what sort of surgery it had been: she had part of her colon removed. YEP. And as soon as I was face-down on that table she started telling me all about it. I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that once again while my head hung over the massage table my jaw was hitting the floor. I don’t know anyone else who can literally make my mouth hang open in an odd mix of horror and hilarity like Sandy does. After sharing with me the specifics of what came out of her right after surgery (just a hint: the word “jelly” was used), she skipped ahead to her last day in the hospital, when the doctors refused to release her until she passed gas. “And no squeakers,” Sandy elaborated. “They wanted a sonic boom!” Just imagine, she mused, the one thing you spend your whole life trying to avoid doing in front of other people and one day you have to perform it for your doctors to get your ticket home. Oh Sandy, you have been missed.

4 thoughts on “No Plane, No Gain

  1. I loved the yellow uniform! They don’t normally wear them, they said they did it to celebrate the beautiful weather we were having that day. I don’t think I would have liked the photo nearly as much had he been in blue.

    It may be a Southern thing – people in general are pretty open and, dare I say, uncouth? Probably much more so than up North. LOL

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