A couple of weeks ago we booked our tickets for this years Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) and it got me thinking about how far from the other end of the spectrum of my photography these few days are of the year, but also how much I love it! Most of the year I’m taking photos at fishing or of birds for my challenge, trying to be stealthy or taking my time composing shots, then you turn up at the air tattoo and its about as far from that as you can get.
Last year was my first “proper” year at RIAT and I remember waiting in the queue at about 6:45am on the first day of arrivals wondering whether this was going to be as good as I thought it was in my head, for weeks running up to the event I checked the website at midday every Thursday (a process that will start again this week!) to see what the latest addition was going to be to the 200 strong aircraft line up then googling them to see what they looked liked when I didn’t have a clue what a Typhoon, Raptor or Phantom looked like! Anyway the gate opened everyone ran in to get a spot at the front, set up their chairs and get cameras sorted. After about 10mins the guy who was sat next to me tapped me on the arm and said “Typhoon coming in for missed approach”… I was thinking to myself how does he know that?! I can’t see or hear anything… Then I realised he had a headphone in hooked up to a scanner so he could hear the air traffic controller and could hear all the comms…. anyways a few minutes later this Typhoon came into land, I’m thinking this cool…we’re pretty close and that’s pretty loud! As the plane drew level with where I was standing rattling off frames through the viewfinder on the camera the pilot pulled the nose up, lit the afterburners and proceeded to climb steeply away from the ground… The sheer noise and power you could feel vibrating through your body was just insane. (Picture Below is said Typhoon) I just stood there like a goofy kid with a massive smile on my face watching this jet climbing into the sky and above the clouds. That was it, I was hooked!
Over the course of the first two days I watched around 200 different aircraft arrive from all around the world, some were a little more exciting than others however the fact that air forces from all around the world (as far as Pakistan, Australia & Japan last year) send aircraft to an air base 4 miles from where we live is pretty cool.
The weather improved as the weekend went on, with Sunday having the best of blue skies and sunshine (makes the photos look so much better) however I didn’t have a ticket for the Sunday so I rode down on my mountain bike through some tracks and back lanes and stood near the end of the runway, this turned out to be a great spot as the planes coming into land, and particularly the fighter jets turned right above where I was standing, hence how I achieved the shot below;
Photographing the planes at RIAT is so fast that it takes a while to get your “eye in”. A long lens (300mm last year) coupled with the need for a fast shutter speed mean the brighter the light (preferably sunshine!) the easier it is, if its cloudy sometimes its better to just watch than take photos as planes against a white sky don’t look particularly appealing in my eyes. (Maybe with the exception of the Ramex Delta Mirage’s pictured at the top?!) I had seen some photographs before I went to the air tattoo referring to “propeller blur” whereby you slow the shutter speed enough to get the movement of the propellers but pan with the plane to keep the plane in focus. After a few attempts I got a decent shot of the Airbus A400 (below) that the RAF are currently taking delivery of to replace the ageing C130 Hercs.
Looking forward to this years RIAT (RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire July 14th – 16th) I am sure that I will upload a blog around the time with some of my new pictures of planes in beautiful sunshine and blue skies!