Luke Air Force Base – 11/25/2013 & 11/26/2013
Story and Photos by Steven Valinski
For the past few afternoons I decided to photograph at Luke Air Force Base. The F-15SG’s from the 428th out of Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho were still visiting so I wanted to get more shots of their amazing aircraft. On both days, runway 03 was in use so shooting from the guardrail location was ideal with the afternoon sun behind me. This location can be great from arrivals and departures on 03L/21R, but requires lenses with a 300mm+ focal length on arrivals and departures on 03R/21L. The key with this location is the position of the sun, which makes this an ideal location in the afternoon, especially, the late afternoon.
In addition to the guardrail location, I moved around outside the base a little in an attempt to get different angles on some departures. For the most part, it worked out well. Both days the weather was cooperative and the activity was steady. Both the 428th’s F-15’s and F-16’s from various squadrons stationed at Luke were flying. The challenging part of shooting in the afternoon is maintaining that perfect balance of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. In the fall/winter months the sunlight is not as bright as the spring/summer months. This typically results in having to use a higher ISO shots during the “golden hour” before sunset. I typically like to shoot +0.7/1.0 on my exposure, so maintaining that balance can be more challenging for me. When shooting with a full-frame DSLR, the effects of increasing the ISO can be minimal, but, on crop-sensor DSLRs, it is important to understand the impact of increasing the ISO. Relying on post-processing software to remove noise can have an impact on the fine details needed for a great photograph.
With the location and light in my favor, I was able to capture some decent shots. The highlight of the two afternoons was when the 428th’s F-15’s taxied to depart on runway 03L. This provided an opportunity for photographing some great taxiing angles as well as the visual, aural, and the olfactory experience of these amazing aircraft departing close-by.