Camera, local knowledge and perfect weather doesn’t always lead to perfect pictures!

I often see articles about how a photographer should always have their camera with them just in case they come across a scene that is perfect timing for a perfect picture. Serendipity. However, realistically speaking that’s not always possible so how about we just do the best we can.

Also, smart phones have pretty good cameras these days and we nearly always have our phones with us so that’ll do wont it? Often yes but with a big ‘it depends’ attached. It depends on what you want to do with the pictures you take and it depends on whether or not your picture requirements suit the limitations of your phone camera i.e. is the lens the right choice for the shot? Can you creatively control the settings to achieve the picture you’ve visualised? etc. etc. etc.

I tend to work with the mindset of I’ll do the best I can and take opportunities if they present themselves but I wont beat myself up about it.

I was recently driving back to the office after a morning taking portraits in a nursery school and I spotted one such opportunity that I just couldn’t pass by. As I drove past a local RAF base where they teach parachuting to the armed forces, a C130 Hercules flew over and a stick of army (I think) jumpers came out of the door. Having seen this before I knew that it was highly likely that the plane would circle round a couple of times and another stick would jump each time. Ah ha – photo op! I could get in position and maybe get a couple of opportunities to take pictures.


A stick of parachutists jumping from a C130 Hercules aircraft at RAF West on the Green, Oxfordshire

I parked in a convenient lay-by and grabbed the camera. Unfortunately the longest lens I had was a 200mm but with the plane flying low I thought I could get some shots with plane and jumpers in it rather than really close up shots. Maybe I could upload them to the picture library ( I use too. I ran down the road to get the angle I wanted and snapped away. Perfect and my kit limitations didn’t get in the way of the shot I wanted apart from the lens being not really ideal for this sort of shot. I also had to shoot at 400 or 800 ISO to give me fast shutter speeds to freeze the action. As I’m not really experienced in photographing aircraft I just went for this as a learning exercise to see what I could get and revise the settings if there’s a ‘next time’.


A stick of parachutists jumping from a C130 Herclues at RAF Weston on the Green, Oxfordshire.

I was quite pleased with the results and uploaded the pictures to Alamy. However, because of the camera & lens choice (not my best but I had no other with me), high shutter speed and ISO my images were rejected from the library as they were too noisy. Never mind, as I say it was a learning exercise and I had to take the opportunity the presented itself too me so I’m not upset – in fact I’m quite pleased with the results. Maybe not good enough to sell but I’m happy I’ve shot something new, got reasonable results and have tried something different.


Three parachutists floating to the ground after low level jump from C130 Hercules at RAF Weston on the Green, Oxfordshire

In short, take your camera when you can, take pictures when you can but don’t beat yourself up if you miss an opportunity, just try to make the most of those you get.



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