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2015 Owensboro Airshow

The 2015 Owensboro Airshow was the biggest and best one yet. Over 50,000 people came out to see it. This was the first year in which the show lasted 3 days instead of just 2. It was also the first year that the show had one of the two major military demonstrations in attendance, the US Air Force Thunderbirds. Having not seen the Thunderbirds perform since 1997, I was looking forward to it. They did not disappoint.

The first day of the show, the static display at the airport was what I looked forward to most. The past 2 years of the airshow, bad weather kept me away from the static display. It almost did this year as well, but the rain ended early. Sadly, bad parenting led to the Canadian F-18 and Thunderbird F-16 being gated off because kids were starting to crawl around and pull on things. If you want to see bad parenting at its finest, just go to an airshow.

Despite the obstacles at the static display, I'm happy with many of the images I captured. With the crowds, I had to stand so close to the planes that I had to shoot them in sections and merge them into panoramas. Thankfully, Photoshop makes that easy. Simply lock your focus in, turn your camera sideways and shoot from one side to the other, making sure each image overlaps the previous one by at least 20% or more. When you edit all the panorama sections, you need to remember to edit them all at once using the exact same adjustments on all sections. Otherwise, they will look off when merged. Since I now write this blog, I may attempt to get press credentials next year and have an opportunity to photograph the aircraft the day before the crowds.

Vintage WWII aircraft have always been my favorite. World War II is my favorite historical era. I think the photography from that period is the main reason it interests me so much. Sadly my favorite plane of all, the P-51 Mustang, was missing from the show this year. The B-17 "Yankee Lady" was the perfect consolation prize though. My favorite photos from this year's show are of the B-17. She even looks better in black and white I think. You can judge for yourself.

At the static display, I challenged myself by only taking my Sigma 18-50mm F/2.8 lens. It was the perfect focal length since I knew I could get close. For the main show over the Ohio River on Saturday, that lens would be almost completely useless. For Saturday's show, I only brought my Sigma 70-300mm F/4. I did pretty well with it I think, although I would love to have a 500mm lens for airshows to gove me a little extra reach. My camera settings changed depending on the type of plane I was shooting. For the prop planes, I tried to keep my shutter between 1/500 & 1/800 of a second. My ISO between 100 & 200, and my aperture around F/8. For the jets, my ISO was between 200 & 400, shutter speed between 1/1000 & 1/1600 of a second, and aperture of between F/6.3 & F/10. If your camera has a back button focus feature, it makes focusing much faster and easier as well.

Hopefully I'll have 2 or 3 airshows on my schedule next year. I would really like to go back to the Vectren Dayton Airshow in June. I haven't been to that one since 2012. Below are more photos from the show. My next fun photo project will most likely be the Cruise-in at Vastwood Park in October, last year's show was impressive. I hope the one this year is bigger and better.

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