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Andy Rouse's Top Photos Of The Last Year Part Three Aviation

Well it’s been an action packed month since I wrote the first aviation blog post - the response for Park Cameras was tremendous so thanks very much for your support. I’ve been very busy with several air to air shoots (which you will see another time) but now I’m firmly in wildlife mode as I’m packing to leave for the Masai Mara and taking 16 FotoBuzz members with me on safari. I love the excitement that safari generates in people, it’s even more special when you are remote camping as we are this time rather than staying in a big camp.

As promised here are the second 5 aviation images that I have taken in the past year that I really like. In fact, the choice has been very tough and I may slip in an extra one at the end, since I’m from Essex and as a dodgy Geeza my counting ability is questionable anyway!

My first air-to-air session was with a WW1 fighter, the BE2, owned by the WW1 Aviation Heritage Trust and based at Stow Maries. It’s a wonderful looking plane and I was asked to get some air-to-air images for the trust to use, mainly I think because of my friend Russell who is Mr Stow Maries. Anyway it was a grim day, certainly no hint of blue sky or brightness at all. My photoship pilot, Bob, was a cool guy though and so was the BE2 pilot Bevan, so after a quick brief we took off in the Piper and got stuck in. Since these aircraft don’t have any radios and are limited in range we just did big loops of the airfield, Bevan following our lead. On one of the loops I saw an area of dark cloud I liked and motioned Bevan upwards and for Bob to put us in a turn. This gave me a nice angle shooting back on the BE2 as you see here. When I processed this I gave it a very vintage feel with a slightly Biggles colouration, which I think was very effective. My only regret is that perhaps I should have reduced the shutter speed slightly to a better prop spin but at least it had some motion, the benefit of experience….or the result of lack of it to be more precise. But I learn everytime I shoot and I certainly did here!

I mentioned in the first part of this blog about my work with Navy Wings. This started off when I was asked to be on the innovation team for the Sea Vixen, now this has become part of Navy Wings which is the umbrella organisation to keep our naval heritage aircraft flying. This season the Sea Vixen started to appear at air shows in the UK to rave reviews as she is a very very beautiful aircraft.

The first time that I saw her fly, I was so impressed by the way that light really picked up her lines - she’d clearly been designed by someone who wanted to build stunning aircraft. Anyway, I now have the honour of being given the air to air photography work for the Sea Vixen, and hopefully our other aircraft, to get valuable PR for them. I’ve done several air-to-air shoots this year, my most recent was following her for 60 minutes in transit down to RNAS Culdrose. I was in a Texan T6, a prop trainer with a reversible rear seat and a sliding canopy.

After take-off I slid it back, reversed myself and started shooting to my brief of getting the Sea Vixen against the coastline. This shot was one of many taken that day, but I think it shows what my aviation photography is all about. In my view it’s pointless to show an aircraft against a straight blue sky, it’s boring and doesn’t tell a story. I wanted to show the Sea Vixen in content of her environment and her role for the Royal Navy, protecting our coastline. So when we flew over Start Point lighthouse I knew I had to have that shot….and 3 passes later we nailed it!

This very special Typhoon was again shot with Eric, the Aviation Photocrew and COAP. Its tail is painted to commemorate 41 Squadron’s 100th anniversary and it’s a privilege to get it air-to-air. Once I had taken this image I wanted to get it published on the exact anniversary date as I knew that it would mean a lot to the squadron and all at RAF Coningsby. But I know better than to just charge ahead so checked first with the station commander, the 41 squadron commander, the pilot and my guy Eric. All said great, so it duly appeared in the Times and the Daily Telegraph on anniversary day, which I received several emails of thanks from the RAF for doing.

First time I have photographed a Tonka air to air, again thanks to Eric etc. for the chance. The pilot was a real specialist at this, doing some excellent passes by us. I much prefer situations like this than formation flying as I prefer to get images of planes interacting with the clouds and being a small part of the image. The thing that makes this image is the sunlight glint off the canopy amongst a sea of gloom. It was a total freak exposure as I was just shooting with the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and when editing I saw this one crazy frame with the glint when every other one was dark. It was different, I therefore like it and that’s why it’s in here!

Not everyone can get the chance to do air-to-air and this image shows what you can get from the ground with “normal” access. I mentioned last time that Nigel and I love to shoot the Mac loop where jets fly low level, the trick is to get something different from everyone else. There is one place we go where the jets bank hard to make a turn, putting them against the sky.

Usually I would avoid this shot as I don’t like blue sky work but on this day the conditions were stormy and the skies great. When this Tonka thundered by and banked hard, I shot it with the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM and darkened the exposure by a stop to get the mood. It’s got space, power and it looks really mean so for me that ticks all the Tonka boxes!

OK, so I can’t count and this is no 6! But it’s such a cracking shot that I wanted to include it. You can see every single detail in the cockpit, which is amazing to me as I couldn’t see anything at the time due to the wind rush. So I was using the LCD touch screen of the 1DX Mark II to focus and relying on it to do the job. What a lovely looking aircraft don’t you think?

Well that’s it from me, you got a free one there too! Prints are available from my website and for the Sea Vixen 50% of profits are donated to Navy Wings to keep our heritage aircraft flying. I hope that you enjoy these two aviation blog posts, I will post more aviation soon but next time I will be back to being Mr Wildlife……

Andy Rouse

Professional wildlife and aviation photographer

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About Andy Rouse

Andy Rouse is a multi-award winning professional wildlife and aviation photographer. He loves to shoot edgy and atmospheric imagery and has always been known for pushing his photography to the next level. He runs workshops for photographers, leads expeditions across the globe and was co-founder of the online camera community FotoBuzz. He is proud to be an Ambassador for 21st Century Tiger and undertakes to support conservation initiatives wherever possible.

On top of this, he is the author of numerous critically acclaimed books and has appeared on many television programmes worldwide. As well as appearing at industry trade shows and conferences, presenting his photography theatre show, he is a trusted Canon Europe Explorer and now also a Park Cameras Ambassador.





If you found this article helpful, you might want to view our other related articles:

Views of the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV from Andy Rouse

Andy Rouse’s Top Photos Of The Last Year: Part Two - Aviation

Andy Rouse’s Top Photos Of The Last Year: Part One – Wildlife

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