Another shot from this year’s Rocky Mountain Air Show:
This bird’s a T-33 trainer, essentially a 2-seat model of the F-80 “Shooting Star,” and sports the Thunderbird paint scheme.
I haven’t shot at an air show in years (since digital), so kind of had to start fresh for this. So I did what I usually do in situations like this — dug around on Flickr to see what focal length people used for the shots I liked the most. So I wound up taking only my Sigma 50-500 “Bigma” to the airshow (along with a monopod to keep my arms from wearing out).
The scheme worked pretty well — the above shot is actually a composite of two made with the lens racked out to 500mm (on my Olympus E-5, so that’s 1000mm full frame equivalent for folks with really big cameras). One original frame had the plane in front of fairly boring (flat) clouds:
The other frame had these interesting clouds with a much smaller / more distant image of the jet.
For those wanting to try something similar, here’s my advise to you:
Don’t bother with a monopod, the jets at an airshow move too fast for one to be anything but a bother (even with a heavy lens).
Yes, the “Bigma” really is slow to focus at 500mm — expect to take more shots than you’d desire, given that some of them will have missed focus. Otherwise, it’s a pretty good air show lens — at least on a cropped-frame camera, 50mm will cover most ground shots, and 500mm will get you some nice distance shots (out where the jets are easier to track).
Bracket exposures if you have clouds anywhere in the sky, otherwise you’ll wind up with a bunch of underexposed airplanes on bright backgrounds.