As always, my annual trip to Reno, was a fantastic adventure full of new memories with old friends. (See previous blog post, same name, for more info). My trip began with a stop in South Lake Tahoe where I recorded this video.
With each video I am a little more comfortable in front of the camera. I admit that it's awkward and I hope that with time it will be less so. Part of what I hope to do here is to show my progression in abilities over time. I know that i'm an amateur where video is concerned but I love doing it and am enjoying the learning curve. The Rode Filmmakers Kit has made this super easy and I am glad I made that purchase.
On Saturday I arrived at The Reno Stead Airport for the National Championship Air Races. I decided to splurge and purchase a pit pass in addition to the regular admission. This would give me access to the area where the race planes are prepped as well as closer access to the flightline where the planes line up prior to each race. There are several classes of aircraft including jets, WWII T-6's and other stock and modified planes. My favorite aircraft is the P-51 Mustang and there are several that fly in the races. Some are stock and others are highly modified like Voodoo.
I spent most of Saturday in the pits and loved every minute of it. You get to see a totally different aspect of the races. There is so much hard work that goes into this day that, as a spectator in the stands, you never see.
I have to admit that I had some challenges. Photography and videography aren't my full time gig so my time with my gear is limited. Sometimes I have to learn as I go. For this trip the biggest challenge was video. I'm more comfortable with video that has the camera on a tripod. This provides a steady platform and there is no camera shake to worry about. For this trip I used a Benro Monopod and it was the first time I have attempted video with it. Camera shake was a problem as well as learning how fast to pan or tilt while filming. I may have to invest in a gimble or some new VR lenses for more stable video. Once again that pesky learning curve. The cool thing is that I am learning and the next time out i'll have something usable.
This year the event added an attraction. In 1970 the movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!" debuted. Several planes were manufactured to represent the Japanese Zero's. These planes were then donated to the "Commemorative Air Force". From then on they have been performing this act for air shows throughout the world. I feel lucky to have witnessed it.
The beauty of these planes is hard to describe. It's like walking back in time.
I spent some time just taking in this view. My generation can only imagine what it must have been like in the 40's. Slowly but surely those that lived as part of the "Greatest Generation" are departing this world and will no longer be able to tell their story's. It is events like this that will keep these memories alive as well as being part of our understanding of our past and its' impact on our culture.
On Sunday I joined my friends for the show and spent less time photographing and more time enjoying our time together. I've known these men for over 40 years. As time has passed we have gone our own ways but Reno is always on the calendar. Each year we meet and enjoy this event and our time together, catching up, sharing our successes, failures and some stiff drinks. It is a time I have cherished and will continue to for many years to come.
You are probably asking yourself, where are the race photos? The answer to that is that I don't have a sufficient lens capable of capturing close up images of the planes in action. At a minimum I would have needed a 400mm lens. This is not in my budget and I didn't feel like lugging one around this event. They are very large and heavy. I was able to capture a few images of the action though.
There is so much to soak up at this event. Everywhere you look is an image waiting to be made. I think it also helps that I love this event and that I have been attending off and on since the mid 80's. There is something magical about these aircraft. It's like i'm a little boy all over again. The sights and sounds, just as exciting as they were 30 years ago.
I hope you've enjoyed this adventure as much as I have. I believe that the only way to grow as a photographer is to push your limits and try new things. I feel that this adventure did just that. Would I have done things different if I had it to do all over again? The answer is yes, but I never would have figured that out if I had never tried.