I recently spent a day with friends and family at AirFest 2010 at Lackland AFB in San Antonio. It was my kind of air show — lots of high-performance jets. There were F-15s, F-16s, an F-18, and an F-22. In addition, the Thunderbirds gave a great show.
It’s always interesting photographing aerial performances. The brightness of the sky can fool you camera’s meter into underexposing. If there are lots of puffy, white clouds it’s even worse and you’re often left with blown-out clouds if you want to get the exposure correct on the planes.
For the shot above I can’t even decide what exposure I like the best. Deep blue sky with slightly underexposed jets? Brighten everything up to lighten the jets? Use an adjustment brush to lighten the jets while keeping the sky deep blue (tried it — doesn’t look natural). You can see what I settled on above. In-camera I over-exposed 1/2 stop and increased the exposure a bit further in Lightroom. This is a shot which seems to vary quite a bit depending on the monitor you’re viewing on so your mileage may vary.
I spent the day shooting with my all-purpose Sigma 18-250mm because I didn’t want to lug my Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS around. It did OK but there is noticeable vignetting in many of the shots and just doesn’t match up with the Canon in sharpness (of course I didn’t expect it to). I’ll bring the Canon next time for sure.