Nathan Gingles

"Rootin, tootin, ready for shootin" (Wreck It Ralph)

© Nathan Gingles

Panning, a lesson for aviation photogs.

For years I was afraid, afraid of the slow shutter speed shakes. You see I always wanted to nail that clear crisp shot of the jet flashing down the runway at breakneck speeds often times jacking my shutter speed up as high as the light would allow. 1/1000, 1/2000 it couldn't be high enough. I had a case of the slow shutter speeditis.

Over the years I began seeing images of aircraft that really stood out against their background, tack sharp fighter jets with nothing but a beautiful blur for a background. They conveyed a sense of speed, power, motion unlike any of my tack sharp photos of similar aircraft. I wanted that in my photos, but I was scared. What if I missed the shot? What if I never had the chance to see this plane again? I continued down the path of denial, down the path of high shutter speed syndrome.

Slowly I realized all of my photos were becoming the same. Shooting the F-18E Super Hornet roaring down the runway with full afterburner was just not as appealing to me any more. The King Air taking off, why would I want a shot of that I asked? Its just a King Air, boring. But I would see these images of the King Air portrayed wonderfully. What were my images missing I asked. A sense of motion, of speed, power. That's what they were missing.

I began experimenting with slower shutter speeds. Blurry image after blurry image, frustration quickly followed. How are these guys hand holding 200mm, 300mm, heck even some 500mm lenses and create these wonderful images that showcased what I was missing? I quickly went back to the drawing board aka Google. "Aircraft panning tutorial", "slow shutter speeds aviation photography" and other related queries were madly typed into the search engine. I began studying those amazing aviation photographers who were skilled in the kind of photos I was longing for and were kind enough to share their secrets.

After many hours of mindless reading, pouring over videos and tutorials I realized that they all had one thing in common. PRACTICE....Really? Practice I asked myself. I have shot thousands of aircraft, and have tens of thousands of aviation images. How much more practice do I need? I however persisted. I practiced. Blurry image after blurry image, frustration was taking over again. Wait, what was that? A sharp one? One by one I began getting keepers. At first maybe one out of one hundred were usable, but that one was glorious! I began seeing that motion, speed, power and it was addictive, it was a challenge and I gladly accepted.

I started to build confidence, quickly going out the door was the thought of failure and doubt. The high shutter speed syndrome was going away. I knew that my odds had gotten better, keepers were not one out of one hundred anymore now I was getting a keeper maybe one out of ten. And the challenge was exhilarating. That boring King Air was now seen as a challenge. Lets see how bad ass we can make a King Air look. BTW I really do love King Air's. But I digress.

What does this long winded post really mean? Get out there. Practice. Challenge yourself. Accept failure. Embrace failure. Practice, practice, practice. Work on your motion, your stance, how you hold your camera. Use different focal lengths. So what if you have a 100-400mm, don't always shoot at that long end. Back it off and crop in post production. Get to know your system and your limits and then push those limits.

Reward yourself with that ONE amazing panning shot of that Airbus, Hornet, Citation, King Air. All of those failures will be worth it for that ONE.


A Dying Breed?

Rumors have been circling for several years now of one of my all time favorite aircraft being put on the chopping block. The venerable A-10 Thunderbolt II aka "The Warthog" has been around since the 70's and time and time again has proven its effectiveness on the battlefield. Yet year after year it becomes a hot topic as to whether it is still a viable aircraft to have in the Air Force arsenal. I guess there comes a time for all great things to come to an end. I for one will miss this beauty once she is gone. Like many other aircraft before her maybe it is just time for me to let go. I hope I have a couple more opportunities to photograph this wonderful flying machine before that time, but after this shoot, with the beautiful light and sunset that was provided me, I am able to let go a little easier.

Below are some of the images I captured of the 175th Wing Maryland ANG A-10's on July 8th 2014 and a couple from previous encounters. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Godspeed.


It all started with Aluminum Overcast

In 2007 I moved to Colorado and began working for Signature Flight Support at Centennial airport. This was the first summer I was introduced to not only EAA's B-17G "Aluminum Overcast" but also the first time I had ever seen a B-17. I quickly fell in love with this unique WWII relic and looked forward to her visit the next summer.

I always have had a passion for photography. Working at Centennial airport only began to fuel this passion. I began to save up for my first DSLR shortly after Aluminum Overcasts departure excitedly anticipating the next summers visit.

The summer of 2008 I captured the image above of Aluminum Overcast during a passing Colorado afternoon storm.

I started by just trying to capture my first lightning strike on camera. Having not read into how to do this I just set my camera up for the fastest possible shutter speed, handheld and when I would see lightning quickly depressed the shutter button hoping to be fast enough to capture it. The storm quickly approached and it began raining quite heavily so I decided to move into the hangar, crack the doors and watch the storm pass. As I waited in anticipation hoping to catch another strike with Aluminum Overcast in the frame, BOOM! It happened, I began rattling off a salvo of shots as fast as the camera would shoot. I quickly turned to my camera screen to see if I had gotten "the shot". There it was on my screen, I could hardly believe my eyes. This was the shot that instantly began my addiction to photography.

Now six years later I can't help but look and that image and think, man if I only knew back then what I know now I would have changed many things in order to produce a better image.

The following images below are the collection of shots I have taken of Aluminum Overcast over the last 7 years on her annual visit to Colorado.