Alliance Airshow 2014

In Gallery Collection, General, Show and Tell, Tips and tricks by jfischerLeave a Comment

As anyone who follows my Facebook feed will have noticed, I took a short break from the landscape photography posts a couple of weeks ago and there was a sudden shift to aircraft photography.  The reason for the sudden influx of aircraft related shots was a visit to the Alliance Airshow in Ft. Worth.  The headline performance was the USAF Thunderbirds, who I had been wanting to see fly since a close friend of the family is currently a member of the team.  Always looking for an opportunity to step outside my usual comfort zone of nature and landscape photography I took the camera both days of the show and came home with a great variety of shots from aerial flyby shots to ground static displays at sunrise.

The static displays were plentiful, though the background was often a bit of a challenge.  Finding interesting perspectives of the aircraft that did not have busy or distracting items behind them was by far the most troublesome issue when walking around the show.  This T-38 Talon from profile is a good example of that, a large bright blue and yellow bounce house sits almost directly behind it.  A high-key B&W processing at least diminishes the ‘in your face’ colors of the background and helps focus your attention on the aircraft.


The second morning I opted to pay a bit for early morning access to the airshow in the “Photo Tour” so I could get close to the ramp before the performing aircraft started preparing for their flights during the show and get a chance to take some photos without many people walking around.  One of the aircraft I knew I wanted to get close up shots of was the Beech 18 “Miss Ellie” seen in its bright red and black paint scheme below.  Amazingly the pilot, Matt Younkin, of this small transport aircraft actually does an aerobatic show with this aircraft.  It was certainly the unexpected highlight of the entire show. Check out this video from the 2012 Tuscaloosa show I found on YouTube to see Matt push the aircraft to the edge (but not beyond) the envelope.

Beech 18


The C-47, or as it is known in civilian designation, the DC-3, was another aircraft I wanted to get some time to photograph in the early morning.  There were actually a number of DC-3 aircraft at the show, which isn’t too surprising given how many were built.  This one belongs to the Commemorative Air Force and is painted in D-Day stripes.  Was thankful to get this photo when I did as just a few minutes later more inflatable bounce houses started being set up for the day directly behind the aircraft.

C-47 quarter view

The T-6 Texan, or as it was known in other regions, the Harvard Trainer, is another of the popular and still fairly common warbirds that were on display at the show.  For this shot I opted to give it a slightly vintage cross processing feel and warmed up the tones giving the illusion of more light than there actually was.  For other photographers out there, check out the ‘Skylight’ filter in Nik Color Efex Pro 4.  It has been a revelation in my processing workflow.

Harvard Trainer

Leaving the ground static displays, and moving to the aerial performances, the show was opened by a jump team from SOCOM, the lead para-commando bringing in the American Flag.  While the day was perfectly cloudless, the smoke laid down by two circling aerobatic aircraft during the beginning of the jump put a wonderful amount of texture in the sky in the background of this shot.  Lightroom and more Color Efex Pro 4 work was done to bring this shot to life.  It is easily in the top 3 of my favorite shots that I have worked on so far from the airshow.


Another example of a previous pass’ smoke adding texture and interest to the otherwise cloudless sky, this pass by the Thunderbirds shows just how tight of a formation the team is flying while performing loops, rolls and other maneuvers.  This shot was taken half way through a 4 aircraft formation barrel roll.  As opposed to the darker sky above, I went more high-key on this shot to bring out the details of the individual aircraft and give a lighter overall feel to the photo.

Thunderbird 4 formation

Another of my favorite shots of the Thunderbird performance, these four were just leaving a tight turn in a stacked formation and were beginning to transition into the diamond formation seen in the photo above.  While the smoke the aircraft use to show their flight paths often shows up in the sky in very white hues, the sun and processing came together to give a much richer color in this photo.

Thunderbird turn

While it is painted in the Thunderbirds paint scheme, this T-38 belongs to Alliance airport and is named, appropriately enough, the “Spirit of Alliance”.  I was lucky enough to capture this perfect bottom profile shot as it make a close pass on the first day of the show.  Very little processing work was needed on this one, just enough to even out the exposure and eliminate the noise in the blue sky behind it.



More photos from the airshow are on my Alliance Airshow 2014 album on Picasa, and a few are also on my Flickr page.  There are still well over a couple hundred photos still to go through from the show, so I will be adding more shots to both albums as I get the photos processed.  As always, any of my photos are available as photographic prints.  I have not ordered any of these for my in stock portfolio, but can be custom ordered at any time.  Details on pricing and how to get in touch with me for ordering can be found over on my Prints page.

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