(Above: That’s “Fifi,” the world’s only still-flying B-29 Super Fortress out on the flight line at dawn. Shot with a Nikon D4, and a 24-120mm f/4 lens I borrowed from NPS). 

This was my third time shooting the Fly-in (it takes place in my hometown of Lakeland, Florida), and this is the first time that I could actually stay and shoot the entire day (Well, I left before sunset to meet my family at Disney World), but I got more shooting in than all the previous times combined.

I was there as a guest of Sun n’ Fun’s official photographer, my buddy Jose Ramos, (link) along with Nikon Professional Services (NPS) who hosted me for the day in the event’s Nikon Media Center, and I got the honor to shoot alongside Bill Fortney, Bill Pekela, David Lee, and Scott Diussa (and of course, my buddy “Fuji” Ramos).

Camera Gear
I shot my new D4, and love it, love it, love it!!!! Love it more every time I shoot it (the tonal quality and gradation between colors is really wonderful, and the extra megapixels don’t hurt either). I shot with two lens: a Nikon 28-120mm f/4 I borrowed from NPS, and a 200-400mm loaner also from NPS.

We got there about 30 minutes before sunrise and headed out to the War Bird’s Flight Line and warmed up there until the sun came up. We didn’t have much for clouds (OK, it was a cloudless morning), but the light was pretty sweet, and we shot until about 30 minutes after the sun came up, then we headed back to the Nikon Media Center.

Above: Here’s a P-51 Mustang on the ramp. This was about the only angle I could shoot from (down low and in front), because there was a large tarp over the entire cockpit and canopy, and it looked pretty….well….distracting to say the least. Still a gorgeous plane.

Above: Later in the day the US Air Force Thunderbirds arrived and did a few passes by our shooting tower. 

They don’t actually do their airshow performances until 4:00 pm today, tomorrow and Sunday, but on Thursday they did do a few passes just to scope out the area and get the feel of things, but they didn’t do any formations or anything really wild, but we were able to shoot from special elevated shooting platforms Nikon put up for the media (shown above, right out by the runway), and that’s where I got the shot I showed right before this one.

(Above: My buddy Jose “Fuji” Ramos [Fuji is his "Call sign." Long story]).

One of the highlights of my Sun n’ Fun visit was catching an excellent presentation by my buddy Jose Ramos on Aviation Photography. Besides some amazing images (he gets to shoot air-to-air from military jets, which makes for some just absolutely sick photos), I was really impressed with his respect for the pilots, crew, and mechanics that work on these amazing machines, and in particular you can feel his reverence for our military men and women in uniform. He had some fascinating personal stories that really made his presentation a lot of fun, and when he was done, he had a big crowd around him asking questions for another 30 minutes. Very cool stuff, and I’m really glad I got to see it.

(Above: Jose snapped this iPhone photo of me out on the flight line once the sun was up enough that we knew that part of the shoot was over). 

My thanks to Jose, and the great folks at NPS (I don’t think a lot of folks realize how awesome it is having Nikon Professional Services at a photo event like this. They bring LOADS of high-end gear available as longer gear to the working media, and they have techs on staff (thanks Francis) who will do free minor repairs, offer advice, and even gladly clean your camera’s sensors. They were especially kind to Canon users who came in and needed their help. They really treated them like on of their own, and I thought that was really cool.

(Above: Here’s one for the road, taken from the back of Jose’s Golf Cart on the way back to the Media Center after shooting the Thunderbird’s warm-up). 

I have a lot more shots, but I’ve got to hit the sack
Again, my thanks to the gang at Nikon for their wonderful hospitality, and to “Fuji” Ramos for inviting me to shoot alongside him and share a day shooting some amazing planes. Also, my apologies to Moose Peterson — I know I’m not supposed to be shooting this stuff Moose — don’t worry — I won’t make it a habit. ;-)