Fleetweek and Blue Angels Air Show

It was my first year visiting San Francisco close to Pier 39 for the Fleetweek Air show. My family visited by Bart and we walked from Embarcardero Bart station to Pier 39 area. I should have gone a bit further down to be located in the middle section of the fly path.

fleetweek with pentax k20d, pentax f* 300mm f/4.5, pentax 1.7x afa
I brought along few gear to the airshow:
  • Pentax K20D as my Pentax K-x is still in repair from CRIS into the 6th week
  • Pentax F* 300mm f/4.5
  • Pentax AF 1.7x TC
  • Tamron SP 70-150mm f/3.5 adaptall-2 20A for casual street shooting
  • Pentax FA 43mm f/1.9 for Bart station indoor shot
  • no tripod or mono-pod as it hinder my framing

I set my SR focal length for 100mm for the adaptall-2 70-150 lens and later in the air show shooting, I mounted the F* 300mm f/4.5 with the 1.7x AFA TC but I forgot about resetting SR SR focal length from 100mm to 500mm. All of my shots have the registered 100mm in the EXIF. I think most of my shutter speed is faster than 1/1000 sec and hence the absence of correct SR focal length doen't seem to have an effect.

fleetweek with pentax k20d, pentax f* 300mm f/4.5, pentax 1.7x afa
There were 6 blue angels and most of the time, they have 4 flying very close to each other. They are so fast and loud. I was not in the middle section of their flying path but I did catch some of the shots that I like. It was breathtaking to see how close they fly together in the air show.

fleetweek with pentax k20d, pentax f* 300mm f/4.5, pentax 1.7x afa
Two of them are upside down
fleetweek with pentax k20d, pentax f* 300mm f/4.5, pentax 1.7x afa

fleetweek with pentax k20d, pentax f* 300mm f/4.5, pentax 1.7x afa
They are spectacular to watch as a group or a single solo flight. They have done a marvelous job in the performance

fleetweek with pentax k20d, pentax f* 300mm f/4.5, pentax 1.7x afa

fleetweek with pentax k20d, pentax f* 300mm f/4.5, pentax 1.7x afa
fleetweek with pentax k20d, pentax f* 300mm f/4.5, pentax 1.7x afa

One final shot is done in close distance when the planes fly very close to my location.

fleetweek with pentax k20d, pentax f* 300mm f/4.5, pentax 1.7x afa

More in this flickr slide-show

Notes & Impressions:
  • I use AF.C and auto multi-select focal points with high speed shooting.

  • My normal center focusing will be a problem in the shooting as there is no time to re-frame the shot. I seldom use the Auto multi-select focal points but in this shooting with high speed moving objects, I prefer to use this Auto Focal points instead of center focusing.

  • With the Pentax-F 1.7x AF TC mounted, the minimal aperture is f/8.0 that is selectable in Av mode. I should have gone to f/9.0 or smaller apertures but I opt to trust my setup. In hindsight, I should have attempted pictures in f/9.0 and f/10.0 and balance it out with a higher ISO

  • Most of my shutter speed ranges from 1/1000 to 1/2500 in range. And strangely I use my Av aperture mode. I should have gone and tried to TAv with f/9.0 and shutter in 1/1000 and auto ISO between 200 to 1000.

  • It is quite difficult to frame the shot when the multiple planes are in closer proximity to my standing position and I have quite a few cropping the planes. I don't know if a zoom lens will help in such a shooting as in 100-300 or 100-400. My lens with TC is pretty much hand-holdable which is a big plus in ease of framing.

  • Location is everything that I miss quite poorly in the planning. I was at the far right end portion of the flight path. Had I known before, I would have tried to go to the middle or left end section of the flight path as the left end capture the spectacular view of the Golden Gate bridge and the middle section allows shots of planes crossing each other from opposite directions.

  • It will be a more interesting setup had I had my Pentax K-x, I would have put my K20D on the 300mm + 1.7x TC setup while I will have my K-x with a short zoom as in DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 for video and wider angle view. That will be for next fleetweek.



aerial photo bali jakarta indonesia said...

1.how far you from the aircraft?
2.why you use adaptall-2 20A?
3.what the most camera setting you use?
4.is there any problem with WB on camera?as far as i know,it is difficult to adjust WB in this area


Unknown said...

these wonderful shots Hin. There was an air show this last weekend here in Daytona but I went to a car show instead. I wonered how long of lens I would need cause I only have a 50-200 and i realize I would need more reach.
Keep shooting and sharing.

Hin Man said...

@aerial, I was very far away from the planes. In some of the shots, the planes fly closer but I was at least a 1000 feet away. Some were taken as in a mile away, especially those that are close to the bridge. I was using a 300mm f/4.5 plus a 1.7x TC

The adaptall-2 lens was for street shooting in San Francisco and I did not use it in the air show. I made the mistake in not resetting the SR (shake reduction in pentax) focal length from 100mm to 500mm. But most of my shots are in 1/1000 sec and faster and hence the mistake in not having the correct SR focal length don't affect the pictures as much

I have included some settings in the blog post int the section in "Notes and Impressions"

@fRANK, I wish you have a longer lens as in the DA 55-300mm f/4.0-5.8 as that will be a nice lens to have that don't cost too outrageous. I sold my Tamron 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 Di LD 1:2 Macro recently as I have been thinking for a dual system with Nikon. Thank you for the support and visit.

Anonymous said...

Wow as always very nice images.

knoxpilot said...

TIP: Use shutter speed 1/125 or 1/250 with propeller-driven aircraft to catch some motion blur of the props. Otherwise, it looks like the engines have failed or it's just a model hanging from the ceiling.

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