Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Big Fun! Rhode Island Air Show: June 26 & 27

If you're looking for something really fun to shoot this weekend and happen to be in the New England area, head over to the Rhode Island National Guard Open House & Air Show--one of the best air shows in the country. I spent two days at the show last summer and had the time of my life and took a lot of fun photos. (You can read about my shooting experiences last year here and here.) Shooting air shows is a great way to practice your high-speed photo techniques and to get very close to some spectacular aerial demonstrations. The Blue Angels won't be there this year, but there is a very full roster of amazing acts--including the USAF Thunderbirds--the Air Force equivalent of the Navy's Blue Angels.

The show gates open both days (Saturday and Sunday) at 9 a.m. and the shows begin at 10 a.m. And here's the amazing thing: the show and parking are FREE! There is a $10 requested parking fee, but that money is a donation to the Hasbro Children's Hospital and is completely voluntary. (And if you have an RV there is on-site camping on a first-come, first-served basis.) Cameras and video cameras are more than welcome (and there are lots of static displays to shoot), but coolers are not. There are tons of food vendors right in the show and I had the best burger of my life there last year! (Seriously, the very best burger I've ever had and I've had a lot!)

The weather looks pretty good for the weekend, though there are some showers predicted, but the weather people have no idea what they're talking about, so if you have the weekend free, go see the show! Rhode Island is a beautiful state and you'll have fun rain or shine.

There's a ton of info on the show site, but here are the directions if you want to quickly print them out:

From Points North:
(Providence, Boston) - Take I95 South to Exit 9 - RT 4 South, North Kingstown, East Greenwich (left exit). Off of RT 4, take Exit 7B (Quonset) Stay on RT 403. RT 403 will become Roger Williams Way. After the 3rd traffic light on Roger Williams Way take a left onto Conway Street. Follow signs to Air National Guard Base.

From Points South:
(Connecticut, New York) - Take I95 North into Rhode Island. In RI take Exit 8A (RT 2 South, West Warwick) Stay on RT 2 South until 1st traffic light. Take a left at the light and prepare to stay right. Merge onto RT 4 South. Off of RT 4, take Exit 7B (Quonset) Stay on RT 403. RT 403 will become Roger Williams Way. After the 3rd traffic light on Roger Williams Way take a left onto Conway Street. Follow signs to Air National Guard Base.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Give Your Sunsets a Great Foreground

It's easy to look at a pretty sunset or sunrise and think that nature will do all of the work for you when it comes to photographing it. With all that color and drama, what's not to like? But you can improve any sunset/sunrise by simply finding a good foreground to place in front of it. Because you want the colors and cloud patterns (or sky reflections, if you're near the water) to dominate the shot, you want your foreground subject to be simple, yet interesting. Also, because it's likely that your foreground will end up entirely in silhouette, you also want a subject that's bold enough to be reduced to lines and shapes and still add interest to the photograph.

I took this shot of the rigging in a commercial fishing boat in Galilee, Rhode Island and I really like the way the complex web of stays and ropes creates such interesting patterns. It took me a while to find the shot though--even though I had been scouting around the harbor an hour or so before sunset. I was really hoping to get a shot of a boat pulling into or out of the harbor, but all the boats were tied up for the night. After walking around the marina in a slight state of panic for what seemed like an eternity (it was probably only about 10 minutes), afraid that I might miss this great sunset and not get a good shot, I looked up into the rigging of this boat and knew it would make a great shot. I planted my tripod on the dock and fired off a few dozen shots as the sky grew more intense and then started to fade, shifting my position slightly after each few frames.

Scouting ahead of time is the real key to finding a good sunset foreground. I've always found it's better to sacrifice an hour of late-afternoon shooting to do more scouting if I think there's going to be a great sunset, because I know that the combination of an interesting foreground and a great sunset make really pretty photos. Better yet, scout earlier in the day, at midday perhaps, and just be sure you get back to your sunset location in time to catch the sky show.