The raffle prizes given away at the Gathering at Waupaca are typically a tangible item, such as avionics and other aircraft products. But occasionally there is a different sort of prize in the mix. Last summer, Piper Flyer's contributing editor Charles Lloyd offered an aviation photography session with Charles Lloyd Photography. Longtime PFA members Pam and Rich Busboom were the winners. Here is a brief recap of their photo session.
The location was to be Lake Waltanna Airport (SN65) near Wichita; however, Rich easily convinced my wife Sara and I to stop by Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal (KFNL) for the photo shoot as we were passing through on our way to Jackson Hole.
Loveland is the Busbooms' local airport and the home of their very nice 1978 Archer II N3069C, Charles.
In my experience, the golden hours for aviation photography occur twice a day, if you're lucky: two hours after sunrise, or just before sunset. I suspect most people, when given a choice, would select evening. But here are some good reasons to launch just before dawn: the air is calmer at first light; aircraft traffic is minimal to nil (at most locations); and the traffic pattern at uncontrolled fields is usually yours.
The night before the scheduled shoot, I held a briefing with Pam and Rich where we discussed various flight patterns in order to place Charles in the best positions relative to the sun.
The following morning, Rich and I opened the hangar at 5:30 a.m. We started the preflight and camera setup in the dark. Pam and Rich launched at 6:00 a.m. to be on station at sunrise to prepare for flying multiple approaches over my position on the airfield.
On the first low-level pass, the soft light at sunrise showcases Charles against the rolling terrain just east of the Colorado Rockies Front Range. (See figure 01)
Setting up the camera to shoot multiple photographs allows me to choose the best one.
No, figure 02 is not five Piper Archer IIs in formation. This composite photograph captures several locations as Rich—the pilot of Charles during this session (Pam is a pilot, too)—flies a go-around.
The airplane's relative speed is faster on the right side of the photo than it is from the center to the left side of the photograph, so the right side images are at a one-second interval, while the last two on the left side I selected every second image (a two-second interval) to prevent image overlap.
Figure 03 (below) shows the magic of horizontal sunlight just after sunrise as it shines through the cockpit windows and underneath the aircraft's wing. You can see Pam and Rich in the cockpit as they taxi in at the end of the flight. Try as I may to describe shooting at this sun angle, you really have to see these images to appreciate the look it gives to those visible in the cockpit and to the aircraft.
After the session is complete, the suspense begins as we explore the creative work in the digital darkroom. Typically, I'll have around 100 photographs to choose from. For post-processing, I use Adobe Lightroom. To create a composite photograph and perform other specialty work, I use Adobe Photoshop.
For me, photography has become a fascinating avenue to explore art using a camera. And writing for Piper Flyer has motivated me to delve deeper into this medium so that I can better support my articles.
Charles Lloyd Photography