Recent Posts
4 years, 8 months ago 10

I’m learning a lot from the aviation shooters on St. Maarten!!  Shooting landing planes over the beach is just like shooting all action shots, it’s about; light, vantage point, focal length, and most of all, timing!!!  The light has been great, I’m learning from the locals the best vantage points, with the 14-24 and 80-400 (120-600 in DX), focal length is covered.  Now the hard part, timing!!  I’ve been practicing and I’m starting to get in the zone.  Below are some practice shots that are getting close!


Next assignment is to be on the beach looking up with the 14-24 when the KLM 747 comes in again Thursday.  Even landing these guys come in pretty fast, you have to be ready and work on your timing.  Below are some examples of beach work and practice sessions.



I had a great thing happen yesterday, one of the contestants, a lady about my age came over to the Gazebo to talk photography and she shared about her cancer experience,  and how it led her to a deeper walk in her faith, and made photography a lot more of a stress relieving outlet or her.  We were able to pray together, it was  precious moment!  When God is in charge ministry can happen every day, everywhere!!!




the pilgrim



Equipment notes:  

Top Shot of the 747 right over the beach, Nikon D7100 and 80-400 lens at 600mm,

1/200th of a second at f 8.



The last four shots are all with the D800 and Nikkor 14-24 wide angle zoom.  Most are at 1/1,500th of a second at F11.



The Last Shot……..   no people, but a cool angle.



One more for Nick Coury, this is the beautiful bokeh I was telling you about, shot during dinner tonight:


4 years, 8 months ago 2

Robby Cijntje, in the yellow shirt, welcomes the first group (about 40 folks behind me), to the briefing for Toppix 2013.  Toppix 2013 is the first of what will surely become a big annual event sponsored by the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, and the SXM Airport.  St. Maarten is known as one of the most beautiful Caribbean Islands, but maybe is best known a a haven for airplane spotters (people that love to catch airplanes up close!)  They surely get the chance here as the approach for the runway has planes touching down mere feet from the beach.  the runway is long enough for safe landings, but the large commercial jets must touch down immediately and that means for very, very low approaches!  So with a camera in hand, spectacular airplane photographs are possible.  Toppix is an annual contest to pick some of the best of those images.


The photographers attending this event are mostly serious amatuer and pro shooters with the gear to make such stunning images.  All brands are represented buy the vas majority of the shooters are Nikon or Canon, according the event organizers it is about 2:1 in favor of  Nikon.  Representatives of Nikon, Canon, Pentax, and Olympus are stationed at prime shooting locations and, by appointment, spend time with individual photographers.  My Gazebo location is the prime spot for mid to late afternoon light on landing planes.  Mornings are spent on the other side of the Island and the Sunset Bar and Grill which has a perfect view in morning light.


A common, but very dangerous practice is hanging on the fence right behind jets taking off!!  The sign below is not an exaggeration, I’ve seen lost of people blown back into the water on the beach! I can’t imagine the fascination with getting sand blasted!!!


The contest runs Sunday thru Tuesday and then Thursday thru Saturday.  The Tourist Bureau suggests taking Wednesday to explore this lovely Island and I will be doing so with a new friend, Bryan Rymer, an avid aviation/travel photographer, and a very good one by-the-way, and man well acquainted with this Island.  We will hopefully go big game hunting Wednesday and bring back some trophy images.  Everything is beautiful in the Islands, as in even a table setting!


O.K. got to close, it’s time for my 3:00 to 6:00 shift at the Gazebo…..




the pilgrim

4 years, 8 months ago 7


I get no respect, everyone thinks I don’t work hard, so here is the proof, I do.  On assignment working on a holiday, St Patrick’s Day, on a Sunday even.  I put in three hard hours with only a good breeze, a pink cooler full of ice (hey, I’m secure enough in my manhood to have a pink cooler!!), and a reasonably comfortable chair, but hey it’s the weekend, wonder what my workmates are doing, bet their taking the day off!!!!  No respect, I tell you, no respect.  So what did I get accomplished in my grueling 3 afternoon hours???  Here is some of the shooting I did from the gazebo with some of the other participants in the Topix 2013 Event.



I did get a chance to wring out the new 80-400 some today.  In a word, drop dead spectacular, let me put it another way, I will buy one in a couple of months when I hang it up at Nikon!!!! For me, I don’t need the speed, or cost, of a 200-400, and I think this lens is at least as sharp!!!  The VR is just beyond belief, I got some really sharp images at 600mm (on a DX camera it’s a 120 to 600 f 4.5-5.6!!!!)  With the new VR I was able to get tack sharp images at 600mm at a 1/125th of a second!!!!  Look at the example below, first shot is full frame, 600mm, hand held, 1/125th of a second, second shot is a 100% crop out of the first, just sick!!!!



If I wasn’t working so hard, I would be having a great time!!!!


Smiling through this whole thing…..


the pilgrim

4 years, 8 months ago 5

Well, after a full day on airplanes, Sherelene and i got into St. Maarten!  It turns out a cruise ship got stranded at the Island when it lost propulsion and all 4,000 passengers had to be flown to Miami, so the sky was filled with jets waiting their turn to land, we circled for almost an hour.   All is well that ends well and I got in in time to meet with my contact for the event Robby, who kindly waited for us at the airport and got us directed to our hotel.  After meeting with Robby and getting a run down on the event, we unpacked and went our for sunset walk and dinner.


Tomorrow is Saint Patrick’s Day and my grandson Elijah’s birthday, he turns eight!!!  Happy Birthday Elijah, they even celebrate your birthday in Caribbean!!  I spent the rest of my first evening looking across the table at the woman of my dreams, and the love of my life!  Before the work begins tomorrow, it was great to have a nice dinner with her enjoying a nice Island breeze!


Blessed beyond measure,


the pilgrim
















…..and the Chicken Cordon Bleu…..and you thought all I liked was Cheeseburgers!!!