It’s a beautiful time of the year, temperatures have warmed, blossoms everywhere, however there is something else that makes this time of the year unique! The Canadian Forces Snowbirds arrive for their annual spring training here in Comox. This year they arrived April 20 and will be here for about 4 weeks. They fly twice a day weather permitting, and they give anyone with a camera great opportunities to capture some amazing shots. Best places to watch from are Air Force beach and the Glacier Greens golf course entrance.
This year, the early session is 8:30am and the later session is 1:30pm. The best choice for photos is the morning one, as the sun will be lower on the horizon illuminating the planes more from the side than above. This gives great contrast and colour.
Taking your photos
Because they are so close, you don’t need huge lenses, cameras with moderate focal lengths work really well. A 70 – 200mm zoom is a really good one to use. Make sure you use a fast shutter speed to try and prevent blurring as they are moving extremely fast. Try not to use the automatic setting, use the shutter setting and set it at 1000 or higher. The lower your ISO setting the better to keep graining to a minimum. I try and keep the ISO at 200 and don’t use the automatic ISO setting. If its a nice day out it should be no problem. Don’t really worry about the F setting let the camera pick it for you when doing this.
If you do want to use a specific F stop the use the A (Aperture) setting but watch the shutter speed, it will not be sharp if its too slow. I usually stick with the S (Shutter) setting and keep the speed high. If you are using fast shutter speed and hold the camera steady your photos will be sharp and you don’t need a tripod. Practice how to hold your camera in the steadiest position for you.
To try something different, select a slower shutter speed and then pan (move the camera with the planes as they move) with them as you take the shot and with practice you can keep them sharp and give the feeling of speed! This doesn’t work well if they are a long way away, but when close it can be effective.