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Things are starting to happen – older vintage aircraft are starting to arrive so Bill Fortney, Mark Kettenhoffen and I got out before sunrise this morning to be in the right spots for that early morning light.

We arrived at the ramp just as the morning light was coming over the mountains. Pre-Dawn is the”official” term that most photographers use. The quality of  the light is soft and warm which can really enhance polished aluminum aircraft. Regardless of how you feel about HRD (High Dynamic Range) – you owe it to  yourself to add this tool to your photographic toolbox.

Precious Metal - highly modified P-51 Mustang Unlimited RacerWhen shooting in bright conditions or low light – it can enhance the tonality of the image and used as a tonal expander – many times you cannot tell if HDR was used or not. The technique is simple shooting a series of bracketed exposures that are combined is a software program like Photomatix Pro or NIK softwares HDR effects (a plug in for photoshop and Nikon Caputre) Of course, you can over process and get some really wild creative effects also.


The proper equipment is essential – one of the most overlooked items is a good tripod that has the flexibility to get low to the ground. Most people think in terms of how high a tripod will go but don’t often think of getting low. With aircraft in static display areas – a low angle is the only way to get rid of the clutter in the background.




Once you get comfortable with your gear you can concentrate on the photos instead of how to set the camera. You need to practice,, practice, practice until you can operate the camera in total darkness. Know where the buttons are.




Hanging out with a bunch of great shooters that have the same interest is fun and educational. The real fun begins when you get to see what the “other” guys shot. Check out Bill Fortney’s blog – we were shooting together so you will see some of the same aircraft but entirely different executions – see the page on links for Bill’s site link.



Now that fun for the day is behind me – It’s time to go to work – This shoot was from about 6:15 in the morning until 7:00am – NPS is now open for the day. Thanks for following along.

Here’s a gallery slideshow that includes some other images from this morning.

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  1. Great stuff, sharp as a tack.

  2. Richard Small

    Great shots Bill! I’ll see you tomorrow!

  3. Awesome…a litle envious though. Hope you guys get some fabulous light and skies this week!

  4. Really nice light… Excellent!!!

  5. Nice Bill…early morning light is the best!

  6. That is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere.
    Short but very precise info… Thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

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