I get asked this a lot when it comes to some of my BBMF shots. For those who don't know, the BBMF is the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and they are based here in Coningsby in Lincolnshire. In short, they are my next door neighbours....
Anyway, back to the subject in hand. Often as a photographer you have particular images in mind and these often take planning and a lot of good fortune. One such shot which I had always wanted was to capture the BBMF coming down the Derwent Valley over Ladybower Reservoir. Now I had already captured the two Lancasters of the BBMF and Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum doing this over the Derwent Dam back in 2014 but this time I wanted to capture even more of the beautiful Derbyshire landscape. So I had to put my thinking cap on.
The BBMF, for obvious reasons, don't necessarily advertise when they are going to fly along the Upper Derwent Valley as the sight of Lancaster or Dakota flying down the valley of course causes much excitement and a rather large traffic jam on the surrounding roads. Sometimes you just have to wing it and hope. If the BBMF are flying on the west of the country there is often a chance that they might fly that way on the way home back to Lincolnshire so, with this in mind, I headed off to Ladybower on the Sunday of the Southport Airshow when I thought that perhaps the flight might make a cheeky 'dams run'
Thanks to my amazing frined Mark and his boat borrowed from Ladybower fisheries we explored the waters of the reservoir and were shortly rewarded in the afternoon by the sight of the BBMF Fighters flying down over the reservoir and shortly followed by the BBMF Dakota. The image below is one of the shots from the sequence.
With my trusty Nikon D850 and Sigma 150-600mm lens I shot this image at ISO 64, F8 and 1/200th of a second. I exposed for the sky and not the aircraft and shot in RAW format for as much detail as possible. The reason I expose for the sky in this instance is that when I then get back home and can process the shot, I don't lose the detail in the sky and can maintain the highlights without them being blow. To bring the aircraft up and the darker foliage, I simply do a slight shadows lift in Adobe Lightroom and add a little texture and clarity. I don't believe in overly photoshopping an image as it creates a false memory in my opinion and I would much rather get the shot 'right first time' as much as possible with only a little post processing.
I was blessed this day with my favourite kind of sky. hints of blue and wispy clouds giving the sky more definition than just a flat colour or grey and murky and it was one of those days where everything came right as I'd hoped.
Of course that isn't always the case at all.........