Almost a full disc! Things I’ve learned over the last couple of years shooting aviation

One of the biggest challenges to aviation photographers is to manage to capture the ever-elusive “Full Disk” of propeller driven aircraft. When shooting jets, it’s not a big deal to get crisp images. Just use the sharpness rule of thumb and crank up the shutter speed to twice your focal length and you’re usually good to go.

Popsicle Sticks

This is a decent example of “Popsicle Sticks” as a result of having too fast of a shutter speed (1/1250 sec @300mm in this case). Click to view full size.

But prop driven aircraft are a whole different world from a technical sense. If you tried that sharpness rule of thumb, you’d end up with what we call “Popsicle Sticks”.

Essentially your shutter speed is so fast, that it will stop the propeller motion, which makes the plane look as if its engine is stopped. By the way, setting the shutter speed too fast is a very common thing for most people and reasonably understandable. General logic would seem to dictate that air shows tend to have fast aircraft. Perhaps a fast shutter speed would be best? After all, you typically would use fast shutter speed when capturing the action of sports, right?

In the aviation photography world however, this is a bad thing. We want prop blur to convey to the viewer a sense of motion, which then gives the picture the proper context of the aircraft is flying and not just sitting up in the sky. Continue reading

A call to action…figures

It is a typical afternoon scrolling through the vastness of Facebook; funny posts followed by a share of some interesting recipe or some crazy viral video craving to elicit a strong emotional response. For the most part, at that moment I am bored. Just a few days prior, I finished up an intense photography project and was happy with the results and response, especially considering the subject matter is outside of my norm. There isn’t anything pressing in the pipeline and I am planning on using the next few weeks to rest up after having completed a marathon of editing since my hard drive failure fiasco during the summer. That is until I stumble upon this…

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Photographers, heck… everyone, learn from my failure… PLEASE!

For those who follow me on social networks, you may have noticed that I’ve been somewhat quiet regarding publishing new images over the past couple of months. There is a very good reason for that, and I’m here to share with you why that is, and hope that you will heed the message of lessons I learned… the hard way.

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History flies in Poughkeepsie, NY


The Collings Foundation’s aircraft. L/R: B-14J “Witchcraft”, B-25 Mitchell “Tondelayo”, B-17G “Nine-0-Nine”. Photo by Dan Villeneuve.

These days we are so deeply immersed in technology. Smart phones are practically attached to our hands, computer monitors replace daylight and we mindlessly let GPS guide us to new destinations when we do manage to get out of the house or office. But there’s one group that tours the country through most of the year with the Wings of Freedom Tour; The Collings Foundation. Continue reading

Creating HDR Panoramic Photographs Part 2 – Processing the Images

This is the final part in a series about HDR Panoramic Photographs, which is distributed between this site and If you missed the first two parts, you may read them here:

Throughout the article are supplementary images. Click on the images to view them at full size.

Welcome to the final installment of “Creating HDR Panoramic Photographs”! Now comes the part where we find out just how well we did shooting and start the merging process.

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How to get amazing detail in your photographs

This is the first of a 3 part series on HDR Panoramic Photographs, which will be distributed between this site and Links to the corresponding parts will be added to the article as they are published.

Throughout the article are supplementary images. Click on the images to view them at full size.

Lately as my photos have been getting more exposure, I am finding a common theme emerging; “These images have so much crisp detail! How do you get them like this?”. To me, this is a good response as it means my images are making people think both from a technical sense and an artistic sense. While I have tried to find a good way to explain my workflow, it can sometimes be lost on people without a visual reference. What follows is my more detailed explanation along with a bit of contextual history. It’s going to be a pretty long read, so now’s your chance to go grab a cup of coffee. Go ahead! I’ll wait. 
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10×40″ MetalPrint of “Jack’s Hack” donated to the New England Air Museum

I had the privilege of presenting this 10×40″ MetalPrint of the museum’s B-29 Superfortress “Jack’s Hack” to add to the museum’s collection on Friday, October 18. Accepting the print are (L) Gina Maria Alimberti, Director of Visitor Services, and (R) Michael P. Speciale, Executive Director of the museum. It was a thrilling experience for me given my love of aircraft and the museum! Thank you again to everyone at the museum for all the great work that you do!

B-29 10x40" MetalPrint Donation. Accepting the print are (L) Gina Maria Alimberti, Director of Visitor Services, and (R) Michael P. Speciale, Executive Director of the museum.

B-29 10×40″ MetalPrint Donation. Accepting the print are (L) Gina Maria Alimberti, Director of Visitor Services, and (R) Michael P. Speciale, Executive Director of the museum.