Arrived at the AV8 Cafe for around 12:45, and met up with Oliver Curtis in the car park just as we had turned up. Today was quite special, as myself, Oliver and Bradley Rogers run a separate Facebook group called 'APEX - Aviation Photography Edit Exchange', where we supply RAW photos for members to edit in their own style. This was the first time all three of us had been together, and we had a great chat in the cafe over some food and drink, before heading out to take a look at the 'Negus' liveried British Airways 747-400, a Folland Gnat, and Hawker Hunter T.8C, XE665 prior to the nightshoot.
Once it got closer to 3:30, we headed back to our cars, to drive towards the area where The Buccaneer Aviation Group are located. Whilst waiting in the queue I noticed two airframes sitting on the edge of the road, and once we passed them, we were surprised to find out they were RAF Phantom airframes. Not sure who they belong to though.
After we got past the gates, and airside at Cotswold Airport, we were briefed by the Threshold team on safety and general rules for the night ahead. The sun was quite low in the sky when the shoot started, so I was eager to get some photos of the four airframes in direct sunlight whilst it lasted. The aircraft we had for this particular shoot were:
Blackburn Buccaneer S.2B, XX894
Blackburn Buccaneer S.2B, XW544
English Electric Canberra PR.9, XH134
English Electric Canberra PR.9, XH135
I made my way to XX894 first, as she was parked on the furthest right of the pan, and took various shots at different angles, some high, others low, and played around with the shutter speed to see more colours in the sky. Then next to her was XW544, in her RAF colours with the camo scheme on the upper half of the airframe, and wings folded up. Next up was XH134 in the metallic grey paint, and off to the left of her was XH135, in a desert drab colour, which looked very nice against the skies of that evening.
Before the light started to drop completely, the TBAG crew started prepping XW544 for her engine run, as us photographers waited patiently for her to roar into life. I opted to use an ND filter for these, as the light wasnt dark enough for long exposures, and I didnt want to use a high ISO for these shots in fear of creating too much noise. This meant I had exposures of up to 15-30 secs, and I wish I had prepped for this earlier. Nevermind, I got some useable photos of the flaps being retracted, and a nice one of her leaning into the nose gear on full power with some dark smoke in the background. After the engine run was complete, the crew left the wings unfolded for us to get some different shots of her.
Finally, the light disappeared over the horizon, and the wind dropped, as well as the temperature. Time to get the gloves and hat out! The Threshold team were on hand straight away to setup the lighting for each aircraft, and it was time to setup the tripod and get the shutter release cable out. I made my way once again down the line of aircraft, getting low down, and occasionally, thanks to my Three Legged Thing QR-11 L-Bracket, switching to portrait to obtain some more sky and stars above the aircraft. All my exposures were between 10-20 secs, so as to not get too many star trails in the sky.
We then got informed that XX894 would be getting powered up for the long-awaited wing folding session. I was positioned on the port side of her for the first of the wing unfolds, with the nav lights turned on, and the aircraft plugged into the generator, the wings came to life, and I pressed in my shutter release cable and watched as they fell into place at flight position, with which I released my shutter to end the long exposure shot. Looking at the back of the camera, I was instantly pleased with the results. For the next one, I zoomed in on the cockpit slightly, as I knew the starboard nav light would arc straight through the nose, and I feel thats one of my best shots of the night. Between each wing fold, the Threshold team urged us to change positions and relocate for different shots, which I was glad for, as variety is much better than the same shot 10 times. Though my only critique of this was that once moved, we didnt have much time to setup our focus points before the next wing fold started, it all happened quite fast, and I only just managed to cope. The crew also cycled through various lighting, including strobes, and landing lights. I managed to replicate my shots from the port side on the starboard side, and was happy to have got both angles. I would've liked to have sat central, but it was too busy to get a spot there.
After XX894 had shut its main power off, the crew removed some panels from the airframe for some more unique shots of the Buccaneers, and also opened the nose on Canberra XH135. These proved quite popular, and one shot I loved was with XX894 in the foreground, and XW544 in the background. My last shot was of the navy Bucc head on, and just as I started my exposure, we were told to start heading back to our cars and leave the airfield.
All in all, this was a very enjoyable event, and I'm happy with the images I came away with for such a short period of time. Feel free to check out Threshold and The Buccaneer Aviation Group below.
Thanks for reading.
More images to be added soon...