LIGHTNINGS AT TWILIGHT
16th November 2019
The Lighting - an awesome vintage British front-line Mach 2 fighter jet from the 1960s. It eventually gave way to the Phantom, Tornado and the Eurofighter Typhoon, the latter in service today with the Royal Air Force. The Lightning can no longer be seen in the skies, unless you go to South Africa where a couple are restored and flown by civilians. However, Bruntingthorpe airfield in the UK is home to the Lightning Preservation Group, where two of the last remaining aircraft are kept in fully-functional condition. A couple of times a year, the group exercise the aircraft with fast taxiing and afterburner runs down the runway at Bruntingthorpe. The most recent event on 16th November was dubbed a Lightning Twilight Run with XS904 and XR728 scheduled to take to the runway with afterburners lit.
The engine run-ups sounded quite uniquely different to any other aircraft I’ve heard, then the chance to be stood - literally feet - away from a stationary chocked fighter jet at full-reheat was an experience unlike any other, a full-on bombardment of the senses, the sound of air being ripped apart and the feeling of the rib cage and chest being vibrated by the power of the twin Rolls-Royce Avon engines.
Photographically, capturing the fast-taxiing was a challenge - I’ve never photographed fast moving action before in low light, so an unnaturally high ISO was definitely required - not to mention ear defenders!
PHOTO TOUR OF NORFOLK
17th & 18th June 2019
I grabbed the chance to get away to Norfolk for two days - just me and my camera in search of some landscape images in a location which was completely new to me. Having researched the area beforehand, I had prepared a list of places to head for. So, making a very early start, I left home and headed for Horsey Windpump - I didn’t get there early enough for sunrise - it was June, after all! But a good opportunity to see the location for myself - which I returned to the following dawn for a sunrise shoot. Although mid-morning, the resulting shot was one I was very happy with, dragging the shutter to capture movement in the long grasses in the foreground, with the water channel leading to the pump itself.
Following that, I visited some interesting zig-zag-shaped groynes on the beach at Caister-on-Sea, ideal for a late-morning long-exposure.
Then on to Thurne Windmill, although the afternoon sun was harsh, the Lee circular polariser popped the clouds and white painted mill from the vivid blue skies. It’s not my favourite time of day to shoot landscapes but the final image has a lovely summertime feeling to it.
One of the big locations on my list was Happisburgh Lighthouse - an evening twilight shoot, aimed at capturing the gold and magenta skies as the sun set to the north west. That meant my location was on the cliff tops with the sea behind me, waiting for the perfect moment as the setting sun lit up the sky. Before the light faded completely, I rushed over to another angle and captured the lighthouse doing what it’s supposed to do, against a cool dark blue sky as the sun was below the horizon.
The following morning, a return to Horsey Windpump allowed me to capture a beautiful sunrise, with shallow mist hovering above the fields adjacent. The air was calm and the water completely motionless, with mirror-like reflections forming my mid-ground. Another visit to the beach for breakfast, then a longer drive over to Herringfleet Mill, this time with a sky obscured by cloud rolling in with the weather front bringing rain. A challenging location, but my composition worked best in black and white. Finally, a very brief visit to Turf Fen Drainage Mill for my final shot as the heavens opened was my final capture of my throughly enjoyable two-day trip to Norfolk.
ROYAL INTERNATIONAL AIR TATTOO 2019
17th to 20th July 2019
The biggest event of the UK airshow calendar, I managed to be there for two arrivals and practice days and the show day on the Saturday. A lot of batteries and memory cards exhausted and a good chance to get to grips with my new Tamron SP 150-600mm superzoom telephoto lens. Over 7000 images captured with my EOS 7DMkII, most of which would have been shot at high-speed drive of high-speed flying. Highlights included seeing the B52 arrive, the Red Arrows in formation with the British Airways 747-400 in BOAC heritage colours and of course the Sukhoi Su-27 from the Ukrainian Air Force.
75TH ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY - RAF LAKENHEATH
6th June 2019
I was at RAF Lakenheath on the D-Day Anniversary, where 3 USAF F-15s from the 48th Fighter Wing had previously been painted in special heritage colours to commemorate the occasion. I had photographed these jets previously on other visits, but it was good to be at Lakenheath on the actual day of the anniversary to see them flying. More images available in my Lakenheath aviation galleries.