This afternoon I got a call from my friend Bob asking if I could be at the airport pretty much immediately to tag along for some formation flying practice before the sun went down. Well, yeah I can be there! I've been flying in Bob's Lancair before and I remember there not being ANY spare room, so I just grabbed one camera (the new one, duh), one lens (the 24-70, which is absolutely awesome on the full-frame camera), and the GPS and ran.
I haven't done much aerial photography before other than a quick trip around the playa during Burning Man but I love the perspective you get from a small airplane and I've wanted to try it for a long time. One of my favorite photo books is African Air by George Steinmetz which is a book of photos shot from very low altitude (less than 1,000 feet) using an ultralight. I was working on my private pilot's license once upon a time so I'm no stranger to small planes.
Bob's plane is REALLY small. So small that we had to take out the seat cushions so I had an extra inch or two between me and the bubble canopy. The Lancair is the airplane equivalent of a Miata, but with more horsepower and less than half the weight. (You start to realize the sort of performance going on here...) The cockpit is small enough that the full-size camera with the 24-70 lens was pretty big.
We flew down South to meet up with Bob's friend in the air and do a couple formation patterns. Nothing too fancy - joining up, breaking off, gentle turns in both directions. Meanwhile I was taking shots when I saw something interesting and the gallery below is the result.
I think the shots turned out really well. I was concerned with how the focusing would work through the bubble canopy but it seemed to work out just fine. Almost all the shots were in focus and reasonably sharp. Of course the files are huge and detailed (as you'd expect from a 21 megapixel camera) but what really impressed me is how well the metering and exposure worked out. It's way better than I've come to expect from the 40-D and it was really nice to not have to massively adjust every file. The shots in the gallery below are slightly tweaked but even straight out of the camera they look good.
One thing that really struck me is how large the files are. I consider myself well versed in the art of managing data but this camera is really going to put my to the test. RAW files weigh in at around 30 Megabytes each, which means this afternoon's little trip cost me 6.5 GB, including about 40 seconds of 1080p video. My computer was pretty hot stuff a couple years back but it's really slowing down when trying to import and sort even the 250 files from this afternoon. The 1,100 files from last weekend really threw it for a loop! Getting a new computer right now is out of the question but some more memory might be called for in order to but down on the swapping.
There's certainly going to be some adjustments to my workflow and my shooting style due to the new camera but that's to be expected. The full frame experience can't be beat and if I have to buy some more memory or another hard-drive or two, so be it! In the meantime, take a look at the 20 shots in the gallery below and let me know what you think.
Gallery is Here I'm still working on embedding galleries in blog entries...