Sunday 23 July 2017

RAF Cosford... in the air

Another post from RAF Cosford, this time from the flying display, and a much longer post too.

Camera-wise I was relying on an increasingly outdated Canon 350 as it is the only body which takes the Sigma zoom lens... might have to buy a decent lens to fit the Nikons we now use as standard.  The camera was frankly struggling a lot of the time, not helped by the very changeable lighting.  That said, in the right conditions, with the zoom lens, it does work nicely for some photography like this, so for the time being I'll continue with it...

The display program opened as ever with the RAF Falcons parachute display team, making a very impressive drop; all the more so considering the high wind speeds.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight sent over a wing of 3 Spitfires and a Hurricane, which looked good against the patches of blue...

...but the camera again struggling with the odd lighting from a very mixed sky as they passed round.

I do like the above shot of the invasion-striped Spitfire diving though, with the almost silhouette effect the camera took against a nearly glowing sky.

The Westland Whirlwind rescue helicopter making its lift.

An interesting consequence of the tragic Hunter crash at an airshow last year is that because of the proximity of roads and population centres, the Red Arrows (and RAF Typhoon) had to display away from the runway.  There were a lot of complaints before the event from people when this news was released (a great many from people who watch from outside the airfield without a ticket apparently), but leaving aside the safety precaution, it also hugely benefited us because we were well placed to see the action.

The Reds always give a good show, and indeed the Youngest Child (wearing a flightsuit she insisted on getting last time) has set her heart on flying with the Red Arrows when she grows up...

Another shot where the glowing sky, and struggling camera, created a nice silhouette shot...

With the USAF Over Here rattling the sabre a bit at the moment (partly to train their crews in flying over Europe, also apparently to remind Europe who wears the trousers in NATO, according to a pilot I know), they sent a couple of bombers over on a flypast.  The B1 Lancer is something I used to see a lot of, living near an American bomber station in Gloucestershire in the late 1990's, and it was as impressive as ever, setting off car alarms.  The weather had closed in, it was pissing down with rain, and the plane came in low and slow out of the clouds with no warning, which was a tad spooky.

Less militaristic, The Childs were fascinated by the Wing Walkers in their display.

My earlier comments (in the last blog) about how ugly the Apache is still stand, but it is undeniably impressive.  The brutal looks being something of a statement of purpose I suppose.  It was flying in one of three displays on the day involving pyrotechnic elements, basically simulated rocket strikes...

...hence the drifting smoke.

Unfortunately we didn't have a cracking view of the pyro effects from where we were (or for the Strikemaster jets beforehand) so we planned on getting closer for the finale...

The Red Tail P51 was impressive; not just a repaint, but an actual genuine Red Tail fighter.  For those who don't know, look them up- the first African-American fighter squadron for the Americans.

Speaking of Second World War Americans, the B17 "Sally B" (which doubled as "Memphis Belle" in the excellent film of the same name from the early 1990's).

The sky stayed blue for a while, and this rather graceful plane put on a nice show...

Somewhat in contrast, the successor to the B-17 came hammering over next, another USAF flypast, and another plane I used to see a lot of in the 1990's living in Gloucestershire.  The venerable B-52 (from the earlier days of the Cold War and still in service) made two passes of the airfield.

The RAF Typhoon having broken, and with the RAF somewhat under-resourced these days and not contributing anything else in the air, the sole display by a fast jet was left to this Tornado from the Italians... but they didn't half put on a good show, with a uniquely-liveried jet celebrating the anniversary of their squadron.

Unsurprisingly, and very deservedly, they won the trophy for best solo display afterwards.

Personal highlight for me (as a movie nerd) was the 1960's battlefield support demonstration was the big finish of the show, as it has the Huey and Loach flypasts... fans of the film "Apocalypse Now" will recognise both, indeed if it is a Vietnam film, it will have a Huey in it...

This late into the show a lot of people were already leaving to beat the inevitable traffic jams, but we decided to stay for this (even with a 4hour drive back to Yorkshire on the cards), and it also meant we could get down to the front, which meant...

...we got to see the simulated bombing run by the Bronco.  Shame about that helicopter parked up at the front, but couldn't be helped.

The absolute finale, was the ever impressive Chinook display, which was as mad as ever (some very impressive aerobatics from such a huge vehicle).

Overall it was a decent show this year, though the lack of modern aircraft was noticeable, but then it is a somewhat stripped-back RAF defending the country these days.  The display program had changed a bit too, with some planes unable to attend, or dropping out, or having to fly at different times.  A personal disappointment was the sole flying Sea Vixen was written off in a landing accident a couple of weeks before the show- the pilot walked away from the crash, but it has meant the project I was going to photograph it as research for will have to wait a bit.  The weather wasn't as bad as predicted, there was plenty to look at, The Childs enjoyed it, and we'll probably be back next year for the 100th Anniversary of the RAF show.

Friday 21 July 2017

RAF Cosford... on the ground

A few weeks ago we headed down to the RAF Cosford airshow in the Midlands.  This was a regular event for me (Ben) as a child, and we last went a couple of years ago.  The RAF and other military personnel are always friendly, the civvy engineering demonstrations entertain the kids... and jets screaming around appeal to my younger self.

Anyway I've split this into two posts, the shorter one of the planes on the ground, and a larger post on the actual flying display. 

With Cosford dodging closure and budget cuts by becoming a massive centre for training engineers, tt does provide an opportunity to see a large number of types of plane which have been retired as cost-cutting exercises in recent years, such as the Jaguars above... 

...and Harrier.

Whilst going for head-on shots, an Apache, a true example of Function over Form, given it is as ugly as hell...

At the far end of the field were the former testing and research jets, mainly more Jaguar aircraft.

A particularly appealing livery.  Back when I was a child on holidays in Wales we used to see a fair few jets in this colour scheme operating from the research/target airfield at Llanbedr, so it bought back memories.

Anyway the flying display started around lunchtime and we didn't end up seeing all that much on the ground, which was a shame, but the quality of the air display made up for it a bit.  More on that in the next blog post.

Thursday 13 July 2017

Opening Night, "Movement" at Leeds Left Bank...

Last night was the opening of the "Movement" show at Left Bank in Leeds.  Far and away the most impressive-looking room either of us have exhibited in!

The building is the re-purposed St Margaret of Antioch (Anglican) church, just over the valley from Armley.  It has been a gallery/arts venue since the early 2000's, and we were lucky enough to both be picked for this years summer show, a very open brief on the theme of "Movement".

Architecturally the building (designed in the early 1900's by noted architect Temple Moore) is nicely restrained from the outside, but the inside is utterly stunning.

The work was carefully laid out in the main part of the building, with an AV piece in a separate room, and a central performance space on the raised area which would have once housed the altar and the choir stalls.  The work was presented with plenty of space to view the pieces without them being crammed in, and with lots of circulating room for viewing.

We did photograph a lot of the other work on display, but we felt a little awkward showing off other peoples efforts without their permission, so we'd recommend seeing either the show or looking up Left Bank through Facebook or their website for more.

It was also a lot busier than this pic would suggest- in fact the only times we could snap our own work unobstructed was when everyone headed over to view the performance art.

Amy and me had our work, two separate projects which nicely compliment each other anyway, placed facing each other across the aisle, which was a lovely touch.  The two units housed A/V pieces on their reverse alcove sides.

This has been an absolute pleasure of a show to be involved with; the standard of art in the exhibition is excellent, thought-provoking and varied.  The venue is terrific, the staff friendly and welcoming, all in all a brilliant opportunity for us and a nice event at the end of a hectic spring before we take a little break from these sorts of shoots for the summer.  The show is a short one, only on for another few days, but the venue will be showing a lot more work and projects throughout the year, so please look them up online:

Monday 10 July 2017

Exhibiting... Left Bank, Leeds

A little late notice as we've recently been in a part of Wales in which Broadband dare not tread, and doing a couple more railway photoshoots, but some big news:  we are exhibiting some work with a new venue!

It is a short show, but promises to be extremely varied and interesting.  We'll post more on the opening night, but in the meantime, it is at Left Bank in Leeds.  Some interesting linkage:

It is a massive old church, which rather raises the bar for classy places we have exhibited at, and having seen the space during set-up, it is a beautiful place to show art.  I'd have photographed the outside of the building when I dropped the work off, but the rain was absolutely belting down, so here instead are some of the promotional bits I was given;

The theme is "Movement", Amy is showing some of her Tram Series from "Light Trails", and I (Ben) am showing some of the pics from "Intercity".

Also, their marketing manager knocked-up these snazzy posters.