Fortunately, I had warmed up by tracking the slower planes. I tightened the
head adjustments further to support the heavier lens. I was able to keep the
Jets in frame and captured my shots after a few tries. I will bring faster 400
speed film this year, although digital equipment is probably the best solution.
I can set the ISO to 400 when I feel a need for speed, and use a 400mm lens
with Image Stabilizer.
Thunderbird Jets flying in formation.
Stunt planes, Thunderbird Jets, and flybys are great to shoot from the grandstands,
but I had a second option during the races last year. I was able to gain press
credentials and had special access to pylons along the racecourse. We took buses
out to one of the pylons before each race. I was right on top of the action.
And it was great being so close to the planes in flight. The noise level of
the vintage war planes was deafening. Experienced photographers brought earplugs;
I borrowed a pair.
Shooting up at the sky in the high desert makes it look bluer than blue. I did
not need a polarizer. I zoomed in tight with a 200mm lens and 100 speed film.
I tracked along with the action as planes closed in on the pylons. Planes racing
at warp speed were banking into tight turns around pylons. I was getting great
shots of planes side by side, but a serious accident there one year made me
rethink my position. The Reno Air Races are a spectacular spectator sport. I
have decided I like taking pictures at the grandstands best of all. Most of
the planes are flying in a straight line a safe distance from the crowds.
World War II war plane racing around pylon at Reno.
The Reno Air Races are very exciting and a nice break from the casinos. I'll
look for you there in September, when I'll be working with my digital
camera and Image Stabilized lens.
For more information about the Reno Air Races, visit http://airrace.org.
You can also visit Brad Perks' website at