One air show I always look forward to shooting is EAA AirVenture. Located in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, AirVenture is a massive show to cover. PhotoRecon will have four (3) photojournalists on site this year to provide coverage of this event. It’s a 7-day event that will leave you wanting more!
As a photographer, my best advice is to have a plan. Perhaps you want to photograph a favorite performer and there is always something special to see in the Warbirds area. Check the schedule and make a schedule. The last few years, I have let myself wander without knowing where to go. I simply followed the sounds of the airplanes and shot whatever I saw. I don’t suggest this. This year I’ll plant myself on the flight line Saturday and Sunday shooting the arrivals. Then I’ll make my way to see the exquisite vintage classics, homebuilts, and anything I can find in between. You should spend time in Warbirds, Vintage, Homebuilts, Boeing Plaza for some heavy iron and military planes and don’t forget the Seaplane Base. Take the bus ride to the Seaplane Base and stay for the day! (Tip: Ride a pontoon to get closer to the seaplanes for that perfect shot!) Perhaps you’ll find yourself spending time in Ultralights. (Tip: if you can stake out a place in the back of the campgrounds, the ultralights will fly right over your head making for some awesome sunset shots later in the day.) Make time for it all!
Aviation photographer and friend, Ken Mist, comes from Canada every year to photograph EAA’s AirVenture. His best advice: “Relax. Breathe. You can’t capture it all in two days… Come catch the arrivals on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Catch the Warbirds as they go out early in the morning. Capture your static shots earlier in the week before the crowds get in the way. Bring good shoes and plenty of cards.” (He’s right about the shoes… you’ll find yourself walking for miles!).
So much of the show is centered around Runway 18/36, you sometimes forget about the smaller Runway 9/27. This is on my list of “Things to See” this year at Oshkosh. I want to spend time on the smaller runway and see what takes off from there. Located near Warbirds, there are far less people and the view should be outstanding and make for some wonderful pictures. Also, some photographers participate in what is called “Dawn Patrol” meaning they are up with the sun to get the sunrise photos. I, myself, like to stick around until sunset. By then, most have hunkered down for the night at their camp sites after the daily air shows. That makes for a lot less people and I get some great shots!
Every year, there seems to be that one great thunderstorm that rolls through the AirVenture campgrounds and Oshkosh. Don’t let it keep you inside for long… photograph it, but be safe doing so. A storm behind an airplane always looks amazing in an image! And don’t forget to go out after the storm to photograph the raindrops on the propeller or the rainbow after the storm. How cool is a Stearman under a rainbow? Get the shot! Chances are, there won’t be many people out during or after the storm. Take advantage of it.
However you chose to shoot Oshkosh, know that your photos are always one-of-a-kind and they make for some incredible memories. Use them to create a book or calendar for a loved one. Share them online with your family and friends. Tell stories… after all, 600,000 visitors a year can’t be wrong!