Photographing Airshows

Vertical Break
Canon EOS 30D, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS @ 200

1/800 @ f/8, ISO 100

I had a fantastic time photographing the Red Arrows yesterday. I only wish now that I had been a little more prepared. I didn't realise the extent to which one could prepare for such things. Well, the Red Arrows have a website, and the website details the display sequence for the 2007 display season. They even have diagrams of each move on the website.

There was a commentator - the team safety officer, Red 10 - who talked the crowd through the manouevres that were about to be performed. If I had known to spend some time looking at the display sequence, I might have been able to anticipate the moves a little better and get some better shots.

The photograph above is the Red Arrows' Vertical Break:

From a technical photographic point of view, the only thing I hadn't quite appreciated was just how amazingly fast these things are going. You need a seriously fast shutter speed to freeze a Hawk jet going across your field of view - 1/1000th or probably even higher. I have a few shots of the synchro pair doing the Opposition Barrel Rolls move, and even at 1/800th, the jet I wasn't panning across with shows significant motion blur. It's easier to get sharp shots when the aircraft are heading towards or away from you.