A Walk Through Aviation History

In celebration of Veteran’s Day this year, I went to Virginia Beach to visit the Military Aviation Museum. It is one of the largest private collections of military aircraft on the east coast, and reminds me of places like the Shuttleworth Collection, which I loved to visit while I was in the UK.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the museum put on a special ceremony, and then displayed a number of aircraft from that era.

I really enjoy black and white images of aircraft, and particularly like the challenge of shooting them on the ground in a way that captures their spirit for flight. So with each of these photographs, I tried to use the surrounding hangers and structures to remind you how much these machines love to fly.

If you want to learn more about the Military Aviation Museum, you can visit their website.

All photographs taken with the Nikon Z7 and Zeiss Milvus lenses.

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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

Quick Shot: Wings

It is airshow season here in the United Kingdom; every weekend brings a host of interesting and often historic aircraft flying around our house, so whenever possible, we try to go catch the show.  Last weekend was one of our favorite shows at the Shuttleworth Collection. This show features a collection of mostly pre-1950's aircraft and historic cars, given it the name "Wings and Wheels Airshow."

I went armed with the Leica's to get some 35mm film shots of the cars in black and white and some digital shots of the aircraft. I wasn't planning to shoot much of the aircraft in flight and wanted to focus on shots of the aircraft on the grass runway. I'll showcase some of the wheels from the show later and today am focusing on three of the wings.

All of these aircraft were photographed with the Leica M-P 240 and Summarit 35mm f/2.4 lens.

1917 Bristol M1C
This is one of the few replica aircraft in the collection as most are originals, but it's hard to find many aircraft form 1917 that still fly! This aircraft was actually built in 2000 but carries the markings of an original Bristol that flew with the 72 Squadron Royal Flying Corps in the Royal Air Force.

1934 Hawker Hind
I have always had a soft spot for the shine of the aluminum on these World War II biplanes. This Hawker actually saw service in World War II as a bomber and training aircraft and in the 1930s was part of the Royal Afghan Air Force.

1934 DH88 Comet Racer
Unlike the other aircraft in this series that were designed for wartime, this beauty was meant to participate in the popular air races. Specifically, she flew from England to Australia. Three of the comets participated and G-ACSS (this aircraft) won the race.

Quick Shot: Tower of London Remembers

2014 marks the centennial of the outbreak of World War I, which is a very important anniversary in Europe. One of the many events being held to commemorate this centennial is at the Tower of London, where hundreds of thousands of red poppy flowers are being "planted" in the moat in honor of those who perished during the first world war.

The Tower of London played an important role for the British soldiers during WWI; it served as a recruiting and training site for the thousands of new soldiers conscripted into service. The red poppy flower is a symbol used to honor service members in the UK, much like the yellow ribbon in the US. To celebrate the centennial, almost 900,000 hand painted ceramic poppies will be placed in the moat surrounding the Tower of London. The project, which started earlier this summer, will run through mid-November when the UK celebrates their version of Veterans Day.

I had seen photographs of this display and it was one of the sites I was most intent to photograph in London. Although I usually find black and white images with one color gimmicky, I knew that I wanted this image to be that way to really draw your attention to the abundance of red poppies flowing from the tower. This image was actually a panorama of several images stitched together to create this wide angle perspective on the Tower of London. I actually took this photograph during a rain storm, which gave the clouds a nice dramatic touch.

Be sure to visit the Tower of London Remembers Website If you are interested in learning more about the exhibit or want to purchase a red poppy to be planted in the moat.

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: Remembering our Vets

I had a chance to photograph the National World War I Memorial in Kansas City earlier this summer. While the memorial itself was powerful (particularly the museum built into the base of the monument), it was the ground in front of the memorial that moved me most. Following the sidewalk up to the memorial were several courtyards containing marble plaques honoring those who served in World War I. Seeing the names of these brave men put a human touch on a war that seems so distant now. I took (and have posted) many photos from this courtyard; unlike my previous images, this focuses on a handful of servicemen whose names are forever remembered.

Scenic Traverse Photography would like to thank all of our veterans for their service and dedication to keep America safe. Thanks vets!

 

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Quick Shot: Reflection of War

I recently visited the National World War I Memorial in Kansas City. During this visit, I found myself drawn to a glass rooftop at the base of the memorial (it was the roof for the museum below the memorial). The shiny glass reflected the memorial beautifully, so I took two photographs to capture that reflection.

The first shot was taken during the day and highlights the reflection of the inscription at the base of the tower. The second photo was taken at dusk, when the lights on the tower illuminated the scene. I couldn't decide which I liked better, so I thought I'd post them both and let you pick! 

Which of these two shots do you like more? Leave me a comment and let me know! 

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Quick Shot: Stones

At the base of the National World War I Memorial in Kansas City lies a series of commemorative stones naming those who died either during, or following service to our country. One of the stones featured the name of Clay Arthur and featured an engraving of a Purple Heart. The size of the placard and the Purple Heart immediately caught my eye in the middle of this sea of commemorative stones.  

I wanted to photograph this stone, but I wanted to give the viewer the feeling of how many stones surrounded this one. If I zoomed in too tight, the viewer wouldn't understand that this was one stone in a sea of markers. At the same time, if I made all of the stones in focus, you wouldn't be drawn to the same one I was. I crouched really low to the ground and used a shallow depth of field to focus your attention to Clay Arthur's stone while still giving the viewer a sense of how many stones were out there. 

The photo in color was almost black and white, so I decided to convert the photograph completely to black and white to add drama and contrast. I'm pleased with the final result and think it tells the story of Lt. Clay Arthur very well! 

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Quick Shot: WWI Memorial

Last weekend I had a chance to explore the World War I Memorial in Kansas City. The memorial was built in the 1920s to commemorate those Americans who served and features a large monument and a wonderful museum.  

The weather for this trip was perfect - although a little hot, there was a nice breeze and some light clouds in the sky. I knew the weather would be perfect for Black and White photography and used my polarizer filter to ensure I gave the sky as much contrast as possible.

I'll be posting a variety of Quick Shots from the World War I Memorial in the news few days. Today's shot is an overview of the memorial from the top (directly over the museum), but stay tuned to see a bunch of other cool shots soon! 

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