Behind the Scenes: Shuttleworth Collection of Historic Aircraft

It's dangerous to let me loose with a camera around historic aircraft - I absolutely love to photograph these flying machines! I could spend hours capturing every little detail, especially when the aircraft carry real historic value. 

Every year, the Shuttleworth Collection, which is a private collection of historic aircraft maintained by volunteers, opens the doors to their workshops for visitors to see behind the scenes of what it takes to maintain and keep 100+ year old aircraft airworthy! The collection, which aims to preserve the airworthy nature of these aircraft, many of which are the only remaining flyable ones left in the world, spent almost a half million British pounds ($750,000) to achieve this goal in 2015.

With my Leica SL in hand, I spent several hours photographing the inside of the workshops, which are normally closed to visitors. This provided me with a rare opportunity to see inside these aircraft while they are in maintenance - and it was truly spectacular.

1941 Supermarine Spitfire Inside Struts

Engine and wooden propeller

Aircraft engineer hands

Bristol Scout C cockpit

Inside the wing of a 1941 Spitfire

Parts hanging in the workshop

Britsol Boxkite tail

Shuttleworth Engineer

Clamps

1938 Westland Lysander engine

Fabrication

Bristol strut

Workshop

Parts

Safety belt

Tools and parts

Machine gun replica on 1917 Bristol F2B

Wooden Propeller

Tail from 1942 North American Harvard

Avro 19 Series 2 in the hangar

Will You See Me in 2016?

I was honored earlier this year when ARTS Deutschland "Professionals for Aviation"  contacted me about using some of my air-to-air photographs as part of a calendar they put together every year. I happily obliged and just received my copy of the calendar.

First, kudos to the designers - this is one of the nicest calendars I have ever seen! It's printed on lovely stock and has some nice 3D textures that really make the images pop. 

My photograph of Team Global Stars is included in their large hanging calendar, along with in their smaller version. I am super excited about being part of this publication and, if you get their calendars, you'll see me in 2016! 

Video: Fly with Team Global Stars

I have been busy working with the Cambridgeshire based aerial performance team, the Global Stars, to produce a series of videos highlighting their stunt performances and am excited to finally release the second video. This short movie, titled "Fly with Team Global Stars" gives you an up close and personal view into what it is like to fly as a member of the team. Strap in and get ready to fly! 

Quick Shot: Different Perspective

You've heard me say it before - I love an opportunity to get a different perspective on something. So a week ago, when I was doing some filming for the Global Stars Team, I took the chance to have some side shooting. We did some air-to-air shooting and I had some time during these shots to peek out the side of the plane and grab a few shots of the British countryside below. I wanted to capture more abstract scenes - things you wouldn't immediately place as being located in the United Kingdom. Out of the shots I took, I selected these three due to their diversity and unique character.

Video: Meet Team Global Stars

Wow! I have been busy the past few days preparing for, shooting, and editing a series of videos for the Global Stars aerobatic team based out of Little Gransden Airfield in Cambridgeshire, UK. After a full day of shooting and many hours of editing, I'm pleased to release the first in this video series.

The Global Stars are a team led by Mark Jefferies, a world famous aerobatic pilot and owner of www.AirDisplays.com. I've been lucky to meet Mark early in my UK travels and had a chance to do some earlier air-to-air photographs with him and another pilot on the Globals Stars team, Chris Burkett. In preparation for another season filled with aerobatic shows, we've been busy shooting footage for these promotional videos and photographs.

This video was a combination of footage from GoPro cameras, a DJI Phantom Vision 2+ aerial quadcopter (drone), and my D610 dSLR video rig. Music is by one of my favorites, Dexter Britain.

Check out the video and meet team Global Stars! Stay tuned for more videos, including some killer airborne footage, coming very soon......

Quick Shot: Hurricane Pilot

I have thousands of photographs in my personal collections, but very few of those images feature a person as the primary subject. When I saw this pilot getting into the cockpit of his Hawker Hurricane, I knew I just had to get a quick portrait photo.

He had no idea I was taking his photograph, which makes the image and his expression 100% genuine. I had watched as he climbed up the wing and opened the cockpit canopy. As he started to climb inside, I just let it rip with the camera's shutter, knowing that something he was about to do would be worthy of a portrait. Sure enough, I got this expression of deep concentration as he was getting situated.

I love photographs of people in black and white, so there was no question that I'd be converting the image, with an extra emphasis on capturing the detail and lines in his face.

Shot with the Nikon D610 and Nikon 80-400mm telephoto lens.

Quick Shot: Shuttleworth Collection Air Show

Europe is known for having a complex and colorful history - you can hardly walk down a street without coming across a building from the 12th century or some old castle where Sir Arthur dueled. So it's not surprising that Europe also has a fantastic collection of historical aircraft, some of which can't be seen flying anywhere else.

Of course anyone who owns a piece of aviation history wants to show it off to the public, and this weekend was one of the popular British air shows to see historical aircraft. The show was held at the Shuttleworth Collection Museum at Old Warden Park outside Biggleswade, UK and featured aircraft ranging from the old and bizarre to fast and modern. 

Unlike my previous two aviation photo shoots, this one was done entirely from the ground. I shot primarily with my Nikon 80-400mm lens and used my new Nikon D610 body for the ground-to-air shots because it offered a faster frames per second capture rate.

If you ever have the chance to see this collection, I'd highly recommend it! And you can enjoy it in true British style while picnicking and drinking a pint of the finest ale!

This is a more unique aircraft - it's actually a towed glider called the Eon Primary! I'm not sure you could get me strapped into that chair to fly that contraption either!

At first glance, this small transport aircraft doesn't seem all that special - but check out the point on the windshield. How'd you like to get fingerprints out of that?

Mark came out to play with one of the most modern aircraft, the GOFF PETROLEUM Extra; as expected, Mark put on quite the show with some daring acrobatic work to please the crowd.

This German World War II aircraft is called a Frieseler Storch and was one of the more unusual characters that took to the skies - it's an incredibly slow flying airplane and has a very awkward way of moving through the sky.

This was one of the half dozen biplanes on display at the show - I love the bright polished finish of this 1937 Hawker Demon contrasting with what was a particularly beautiful British afternoon.

If you look closely on this Spitfire, you can see a series of white stripes on the wings and underside of this fighter - those stripes are called invasion stripes and were painted using mops and whatever white paint could be found before the Allied invasion on D-Day. These are obviously a re-paint since the real stripes were applied crudely just hours before the invasion.

This Spartan Executive is probably my favorite aircraft from the show - but this was taken back at the Little Gransden Airfield. The plane normally resides at the airfield where I'm temporarily living, so I've had two weeks to drool over that polished aluminum finish!

I absolutely love these World War II classics like the Spitfire - very few still fly and the ones that do mostly reside in Europe, so it was a real treat to be buzzed by them during the show.

Mark and the GOFF PETROLEUM Extra closed out the show, giving me a chance to get a few more shots of him at work with a great display of aerobatics. 

Quick Shot: Air-to-Air Stunt Flying

I had the great honor this weekend of joining pilots Mark, Chris and Bob at the Little Gransden Airfield for some more air-to-air photography - this time using stunt planes! 

Air-to-air photography is one of the less forgiving disciplines; like professional sports photography, you don't get a "do over" if you miss your shot! You have to be on your heels and ready for every shot by anticipating the shot and settings required. Adding a layer of complexity to an already challenging discipline is to shoot from a stunt aircraft while photographing two other airplanes flying in dangerous formations....

Let's begin by setting up the photo shoot. Mark (flying the red 'GOFF PETROLEUM' Extra) and Chris (flying the blue G-Force Extra) wanted to get some solo shots and then some group formation work. Since we were going to photographing airplanes that move relatively quick and that would be doing stunts, it was important that the photographs were being taken from another aircraft that could match the performance of their planes. To achieve that, I joined pilot Bob in a Chipmunk (DHC-1) with the rear left glass removed from the canopy to facilitate my shooting. The Chipmunk is a two-seat military trainer - although not as nimble and fast as the two Extra's, it was an ideal aircraft from which to shoot. 

To get the shots that Mark and Chris wanted, we were going to have to do some flips, tight turns, stalls, and dives. Experience has taught me several things - don't fly on an empty stomach and know how to squeeze so that you can continue to focus without feeling light headed. Oh, and did I mention that while you're trying not to loose your lunch, you also need to have your head sticking out of a plane and taking photos?!

The flight was a wild success - we were safe and I managed to get all of the shots that Mark and Chris were looking for - plus I had a good bit of fun doing aerial stunts over England! Shooting from the Chipmunk also proved to be a bit easier than shooting from the Air Ranger - I could keep the majority of my body inside the aircraft's canopy and only had to stick enough of my camera lens out to get the shots. This is key because at those speeds, the wind can really knock the lens around, so it's important to try and keep it stable by sheltering it from the wind.

In almost 20 minutes of flying and 4G's later, I had 771 photographs totaling almost 60GB of memory! After a big gulp of water (I had my mouth open as we flew) and a shower, I started the process of editing and here are the results. 

Mark showing off the beautiful smile on the front of that GOFF PETROLEUM Extra

The GOFF PETROLEUM Extra is extremely agile, as demonstrated here by long time stunt pilot Mark

Mark maneuvering the GOFF PETROLEUM Extra towards the sky, while the fields below help remind you that we're flying in England. The photo was actually shot level, but I liked the look when I oriented it off level.

There's a saying that where there's smoke, there is fire - but not in this case! The smoke is an effect to help you see the trail of their movements in the sky. Here pilots Mark (red Extra), Chris (blue Extra), and Bob and I (in the Chipmunk) are all going vertical while I shoot out the side of the window.  

Which way is up? Again, the three airplanes are flying in formation, so I'm also upside down as I take this shot. 

Do you feel like you've completed the entire loop yet? Did you notice that Mark and Chris are looking at me in all of the shots? That's not because they wanted to pose for the camera (although it's an added benefit!), that is to help them keep their spacing from one-another.

This stunt is known as mirroring. Mark and Chris must demonstrate accuracy, timing, and most importantly, trust, in order to execute this challenging stunt. And yes, they are really just feet apart from each other.

Now it's Chris' turn to show off the nose of his blue Extra as we fly over a farm house in rural England.

My view from the back seat of the Chipmunk. Pilot Bob did the navigating and coordinated the movements with Mark and Chris. 

After a safe landing - I'm in the back seat (the canopy was cracked open after we landed so Bob could have some fresh air) and you can see where the glass on the left side of the canopy was removed to facilitate my camera.

Quick Shot: Air-to-Air Over England

Scenic Traverse Goes Flying!

You probably noticed I've been having some fun photographing all of the aircraft at the Little Gransden airport near Cambridge - and you wouldn't be the only one! Some of the pilots at the airfield have also taken notice and today they invited me on a fly-along to do some air-to-air photography.

Air-to-air involves photographing one airplane from another to get some photographs of an aircraft in flight. It's significantly more challenging than shooting from the ground too.... suddenly you have to contend with holding a camera out of a flying plane's window and keeping it steady enough to get great shots while both you and your subject are cruising over the ground. Adding a particular challenge today was that the airplane I was shooting from also had under the wing struts, so that meant the alignment of the two aircraft had to be such that the struts weren't in the way. 

The entire flight was only a few minutes long, but gave me several chances to photograph this beauty over the skies of the United Kingdom. I'm very appreciative that they let me come along and take some shots for them this evening - what do you think of the final results?

The plane I flew in - notice how the window was removed to facilitate my camera and lens sticking out and into the wind! It's a very small aircraft, but very nimble as well - and lots of fun to ride in!

A view of the Little Gransden Airport and grass airstrip.

A more detailed view of the aircraft hangars and property at Fullers Hill and the Little Gransden Airfield. We are staying in one of the buildings behind the hangars, so it's easy for me to constantly keep my eyes and ears open for any activity at the airfield.

How would you like to maintain that garden?! This was one of the many scenic views afforded to us from the air. I think this would fall into the "high rent" category!

Quick Shot: Stampe-ing Around in Little Gransden

This evening was busy at the Little Gransden Airfield here in the United Kingdom, but one plane in particular caught my camera's attention.

The aircraft in question is a Stampe et Vertongen SV.4, more commonly referred to as a Stampe, which is a two seat biplane trainer aircraft used heavily during the 1940s. The militaries of France, Belgium and England all used these aircraft to train pilots during and following World War II - because they are primarily European based aircraft, this was my first opportunity to see a currently flying Stampe up close.

This particular Stampe was built following the conclusion of World War II, with it's engines coming from Paris and the main airframe being largely constructed in the former French colony of Algeria. Several years ago it was completely overhauled and now flies regularly from the Little Gransden Airfield. 

I love to see and photograph aircraft like this - they are so exquisite and graceful in the air! It's really an honor to photograph aircraft that have also played such an important role in Europe's history and I thank the pilot for letting me photograph his beautiful machine.

How can you not love an aircraft like this? Everything about this plane is gorgeous and it couldn't have been a more beautiful day to see this piece of history in action.

The Stampe taxiing towards the grass airstrip at the Little Gransden airfield. It flew for about a hour today, offering its passengers some breathtaking views of the British countryside.

The Stampe returning from her flight

I usually find that aircraft photographs either look better in black and white or color, based on the personality of the aircraft and story I'm trying to tell.... but this Stampe is the exception and looks gorgeous in both!

Hey pilots (or friends of).... if you have a unique or favorite aircraft that you'd like me to photograph, shoot me a note. I'm happy to try and arrange photo ops!

Quick Shot(s): Little Gransden Airfield

Hey Folks! About a week ago I signed off for my move to the United Kingdom, where I'll be living for the next 3-5 years. We arrived safely earlier this week and have been busy buying a car, renting a house, getting a bank account.... all the things you have to do start over in a new country!

For temporary lodging, we've been staying at the Fullers Hill Cottages, which are very nice extended stay residences west of Cambridge. The cottages back up to a small private airfield, called the Little Gransden Airfield, which is home to some really fun and unique aircraft. I've been spending a few days photographing the various aircraft here and wanted to share some of these photos as my first Quick Shots from the UK - but stay tuned because I've got more great stuff coming soon!


Quick Shot: Emerging Texan

I want my photographs to tell a story, and I am really excited by the story of this photograph of a North American LT-6 Texan. This aircraft was photographed during my recent visit to the Dixie Wing of the Commemorative Air Force in Peachtree City, Georgia. 

The Dixie Wing volunteers had been generous enough to pull out several of their World War II aircraft and line them up on the taxiway, despite heavy rains that day. This aircraft had just barely been pulled out of the hangar, which presented an interesting opportunity.... could I take a photograph in broad daylight (ok, overcast rainy daylight) that made it appear that this aircraft had just pulled out of the hangar and was preparing for its next sortie. Unfortunately, the hangar behind this aircraft was very cluttered and it was going to be hard to present this hangar in such a way that a viewer would believe this photograph was from World War II. The only thing playing to my storytelling was an L-16 that was used during World War II in the background; by levering that aircraft, I could create the appearance that the LT-6 Texan had just emerged out of the dark hangar it shared with another aircraft.

To get this photograph, I climbed about 5ft up a ladder to shoot down on the airplane from a higher vantage point. The higher vantage point also meant that it would be easier to trick the camera into making the hangar darker. The biggest trick was to make sure I was centered on the aircraft and holding the camera level!

After the shoot, I converted the photograph to black and white and was able to achieve the look I desired. Now when I look at this photograph, I see a warbird getting ready for its next battle, and I hope you see that too!

Emerging Texan: A US LT-6 Texan aircraft with an L-16 in the background. This photograph makes me think the Texan is emerging from the hangar to get ready for its next mission during World War II.

Source: Emerging Texan

Quick Shot: Engine

Last week I was in Atlanta shooting like crazy as part of my trip to Photoshop World. One of the first stops was the Dixie Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, where I had a chance to get up close and personal with some great World War II aircraft. I won't talk too much about the aircraft I saw because there's plenty of future Quick Shots to come!

This shot got my attention immediately - as you walk up to these historic aircraft you tend to stop and gawk at the powerful engines that carried these aircraft and their daring pilots into combat. In this case, I was drawn to all the details in the engine. Getting the shot wasn't as easy as it probably looks, though - it was pouring rain and I had to fight to get a shot without too much water getting on the front of the lens! Adding to that is that the engine is actually above my eye level, so I had to do a jump/hop to get up high enough. Never mind the logistics - I got the shot and I think it came out quite nicely!

The details of a Pratt & Whitney Aircraft engine

The details of a Pratt & Whitney Aircraft engine

Announcement: World War II Art Poster Prints for Sale

Scenic Traverse Photography is pleased to announce two World War II Art Poster Prints for sale in time for the holidays. These are a spectacular deal - each print is only $25 and I've arranged special pricing to get your print framed for the holidays. 

There are two posters available: the first is a 1944 Douglas C-47 Dakota cockpit and the second is a 1944 P-51C Mustang "Ina the Macon Belle". Both of these aircraft were used by US forces in World War II -- the C-47 actually dropped US paratroopers during the D-Day invasion. Miraculously, both planes survived the war and now live in the United States, where they still fly today! 

These posters are printed on the same fine art paper I use for my normal fine art prints and are 13x19inches in size, which means you can use a normal frame from your local craft store. However, to give this print a truly special touch, I've teamed up with a local professional framer to offer these prints with a custom matte and solid wood frame for a fraction of his normal price.  

Looking for a holiday gift? These posters would be perfect for any aviation enthusiast, history buff, or anyone who wants to own a piece of history. Each print includes a small card detailing the history of the pictured aircraft and is hand signed by the artist. 

The prints are $25/each (unframed) or $150 (framed). Order online today! 

These prints are available immediately and orders made before December 10th will arrive in time for the holidays. 

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