Sunday, 11 March 2012

Headcorn Aerodrome in March

Boeing A-75N1 Stearman, N65200
To Headcorn Aerodrome for the first time in a couple of years, hoping to see a number of visitors from France - aircraft that I don't normally get to see. It was the 100th anniversary of Harriet Quimby flying across the Channel - the first woman to do so. To celebrate this, bidirectional flights between Kent and France had been organised. However, poor visibility in the Channel put paid to much of this. Nevertheless, the airfield was busy all day, and a number of French visitors did arrive.

I met Graham from APS there which was great; he introduced me to Colper as well. A very pleasantly sociable time, in weather that improved through the day.

First time out photographing aircraft with my new (used) D700 as well, so good practice. I was trying to get some slow speed panning with the D700 and the Nikon 80-400mm VR lens. I was trying out speeds down to 1/50th-1/60th sec at focal lengths up to 400mm. This gives nice blurring of the background and (depending on the a/c) the possibility of full prop rotation. Naturally, there is a low success rate, but I was routinely getting usable images at 1/60th sec.

I'm getting a bit of a complex about that lens. Every time I read anything about it on the forums, it comes across as a PoS, to the point where I feel like to total moron for even owning it, let alone keeping it for 7 years. But if it is used within its limitations, it works just fine, and produces nice sharp pictures. I didn't miss anything yesterday that could not be attributed to lack of skill of the operator. I wouldn't use it to try to track a Typhoon on a fast pass, or a swift in flight, but if you can accept it for what it is - an older design without a built in motor - and most importantly use it on a camera body with a strongish motor (e.g. the D300 or D700) it is OK. Not as good as the more expensive 70-200 or 200-400, but as a lens you can walk around with all day and not be crippled (unlike the 200-400) it is a very good compromise. (Having said all that is is by no means a modern lens, and needs updating badly. At any airshow there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of pounds worth of Canon 100-400 lenses pointing skywards, and scarcely one Nikon 80-400. That's a noticeable market Nikon is ignoring).

I've put most of the pictures on Pbase, but just as a flavour here's a couple.

A beautiful Stearman was visiting (and see opening picture): not one that I recognise, and the star of the day as far as I'm concerned.
Boeing A-75N1 Stearman, N65200

This lovely Stampe flew as well.
Stampe SV4B, G-BRXP
As usual at Headcorn, the parachutists were up and about. A moment's panic at one point, when we saw a parachute that had not opened properly tumbling to Earth. It turned out it was from a tandem pair of parachutists, who had had to jettison the primary chute, and go on to their reserve. All well though.
Self-unloading freight: parachutists on their way to a jump

The landed, and the yet to land

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