Photographing on Overcast Days

October 31, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Midday light. Roy, Utah.Midday light. Roy, Utah.The B-29 Superfortress Yesterday about midday, the sky was very bright yet overcast. Still, I decided I wanted to visit the Hill Aerospace Museum located at Hill Air Force Base, Roy, Utah and take photographs of some the classic military aircraft they have on display there. I've been to the museum many times previously but since I had recently taken train photos, it seemed fitting to now take some more airplane pictures to use in this blog.


The Hill Aerospace Museum has one of the best collections of restored military aircraft in the United States. The large and still growing collection of aircraft is thanks to the efforts of numerous volunteers over many years. The museum has several large indoor hangers with aircraft on display, but this trip I wanted to photograph a few of the aircraft on display outside the museum.

Because wanted to get photographs from a variety of angles and distances I took my Sony A6000 mirrorless camera with the Sony 18-105mm f4 zoom lens. This lens is very sharp and a great walking around lens for taking a wide variety of images. I also took my tripod because it was very windy and I wanted sharp pictures.

Arriving at the museum I checked the angle of light from the sun, and I noted signs and other obstructions I would have to work around. I finally settled on photographing 4 classic aircraft that were side-lit. Side lighting reduces the brightness in the sky behind the subjects and showed off the texture of these aircraft's metal skins. The first aircraft, shown above, is the B-29 bomber, known as the Superfortress. It was this type of airplane that dropped the two atomic bombs to help end World War II. When taking this photograph I've used the soft but bright overcast light to make the aluminum aircraft shine, highlighting the power and strength of this once great bomber.

This next aircraft (above) is the B-47 bomber known as the Stratojet. This nuclear-capable bomber was part of United States nuclear deterrent for during the 1950's and 1960's. I shot this image from an angle to emphasize the swept back aircraft wings which were a major innovation of the time.

The B-52 Stratofortress was introduced to service in the mid 1950s as one of the most powerful weapons in the United States nuclear deterrent force. They were manufactured until 1962. Amazingly, after 50 years and many upgrades some of these bombers are still a powerful weapon in the US Air Force. They have been flown in almost every conflict since being introduced and still fly today. The black and white conversion and high contrast processing I did was to really highlight the varied camouflage of this aircraft's configuration.

Midday light. Roy, Utah.Midday light. Roy, Utah.

This next aircraft is not a bomber but a military cargo plane, the C-130 Hurcules. Like the B-52 this aircraft went into production in the mid 1950's but it is still in use and in production. This aircraft can use unprepared and short runways for take off and landing making it very versatile. Over 60 countries fly this aircraft. Since it was a cold windy day there were not many outdoor visitors to the museum yesterday; so waited to take this picture until a small group of people stopped to view the C-130.  This shows the scale of the aircraft and of the public's interest.

Last, next to the Hurcules is a C-54 Skymaster, a cargo/trasport aircraft in service from the mid 1940's to 1975. This airplane was a workhorse of the Berlin Airlift bringing in supplies to the people of West Berlin during the Russian blockade (June 1948 to May 1949).

I converted all of these images afterwards to black-and-white for two reasons. First, because there was so little color on the subjects and the light was very contrasty, I didn’t have to worry as much about the bright background. Second, I really wanted to emulate the look of the public relations photographs that the Air Force published of these airplanes during the 1950s and 1960s for the general public.

In conclusion, given the kind of day it was, I’m very satisfied with these photographs. This is another example of any light photography. Still, I definitely plan on returning on a blue sky day when there are a lot of beautiful white clouds to photograph these same aircraft in different light. As serious photographers, we shouldn’t feel limited to just taking one set of photographs of our subjects. Instead, when possible, return over and over to get new and different pictures.

[Aircraft facts for this blog taken from information found on Wikipedia.]

 


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