Like Life Isn’t Hard Enough?

In a couple of weeks time me and the family are heading out to the Farnborough Airshow 2010. I’m really looking forward to it like you can’t imagine. Since 2008 working for Xerox at QinetiQ right next to the runway, and getting my first ever taste of the Avro Vulcan I need more.

At the time I was using a point and shoot Sony Cybershot, and I played with things a little bit to try and get better results but it was never going to be that impressive really. This time round I have my Nikon D40 which I have been using with the 18-55mm kit lens since getting it from Dan for Christmas in December, however I finally paid up the cash yesterday to order my 55-200mm VR lens. I had been switching allegiance between the 18-105mm and the 55-200mm for some time, and having read countless reviews, I decided this based on the opinions of others that the 200mm had better quality optics and that the VR technology really was worth it’s weight.

I also went through a tonne of my previously taken images and saw a growing trend in my use of 55mm focal length which means I was maxed out on the lens. The lack of pictures below 55mm (the odd one at 18mm or 24mm here and there)  meant I’d probably find longer zoom more useful. If the 18-200mm hadn’t have been £500 I probably would have gone for that.

Since ordering the lens though, I’ve been thinking about getting the most from it on the day of the airshow, and I’ve been trying to concrete up my ideas of aperture and shutter speeds. For some time now, I’ve been blindly setting my camera to f/5.6 in Aperture priority mode thinking it was cool without ever really stopping to think that I could be chopping some focus in exchange.

I read an interesting phrase from a photojournalist who said “f/8 and be there”. Reading some other peoples take on his words, it seems that a lot of people rate f/8 as their aperture of choice because it gives a good mixture of shutter speed at low ISO rating while also giving you enough flexibility in the focus. Needless to say, after finishing my day in the office, I shall be at home toying with f/8.

To complicate matters, I found a good article about airshow photography specifics on this site:

On here, the author suggests which shutter speeds to use in order to make sure you catch the fluid movement of proper blades instead of making them appear static, and adjusting the exposure compensation to compensate for the brightness of the sky. Shutter speeds I can understand better than I can aperture – Fast or Slow is the crux of it!

All in all, I think I need some alone time with my camera, so I can work out what’s best for me – Aperture Priority to get that illustrious f/8, or Shutter Priority to get the 1/500th for propeller planes and 1/1000th for jet planes as suggested on the Richard Seaman site? God! At this rate, I might even end up using Manual and setting both. Wish me luck.