Low-Level Flying Photography
Photographic Logs for 2004
(For all these shots, I used my Canon EOS 10D and a Canon EF 100-400mm f4/f5.6 L IS lens.
With the x1.6 sensor crop factor of the digital 10D)
Note: just 7 remaining of the 3 kg practice bomblets in the CBLS (Carrier, Bomb, Light Stores) pod. (The pod can also carry 14Kg bomblets)
DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 100-400mm L IS f4-f4.5 (400mm) 1/350 f5.6 -1/2 exposure compensation ISO 200.
|Tuesday December 7, 2004, Up in the Lakes for one last time this year, the sun was good from 09:00 to 15:00. Five hawks from RAF Valley (1 was 30th anniversary special marks XX219), 3 Harriers from 20(R) Squadron at Wittering, a Tucano (ZF409) from RAF Linton and a Tornado GR.4A (ZG705 'J') from 13 Squadron at RAF Marham. I was shooting with 10D+400mm set at ISO 200-400, -1/2 exposure compensation.|
|Friday September, 24 2004, Up in the Lakes once again. Brilliant weather all day for just the one movement, at 11:20, that being an RAF C-130K Hercules C.3 (XV307). Shooting in to the morning sun is difficult. The settings were ISO 200 Tv 1/350th (f5.6 to f8), -1/2 exposure compensation and zoom from 180mm to 310mm.|
Thursday September 9, 2004,
Up in the Lakes once again following the success of yesterday. Weather was still clear
blue skies. Nothing for 2 hours then 3 Jaguars which stayed very high. The rest of the
days tally was 7 Tucanos, a Tornado GR.4 and GR.4A, a Sea Harrier, a 4 FTS Hawk and
spectacularly 4 F-15 Eagles. The afternoon only came up with 1 Hawk.
Above: Jaguar GR.3 (XX729 'EL') of 6 squadron from RAF Coltishall. Tucano T.1 (ZF445) of 1 FTS, 207(R) Squadron. GR.4 (ZA602 'XIII') of 13 Squadron through my valley for second day running. First thing in the morning at this location means you are shooting into the sun, which can give some interesting lighting effects.
|Sea Harrier F/A.2 (ZH808 'N003') of Royal Navy 801 squadron, using callsign 'Yeovil 19' on the way up from RNAS Yeovilton, plus Tucano T.1 (ZF448).|
|Having missed an F-15 yesterday due to camera problems, it was brilliant to see four F-15E Strike Eagles of 48 FW, 494 FS from RAF Lakenheath as 'Cluster Flight' flying low towards me today. They are a rare sight flying at low level and usually flirt with the hilltops as can be seen in the first shot (above right). The fourth Eagle (91-0602) made my day by flying low for this four shot sequence.|
|Another four shot sequence, this time of an unmarked 13 Squadron Tornado GR.4A (ZG726) formally coded 'K' it looks like it has been recently scrubbed out.|
|Wednesday September 8, 2004,
Up in the Lakes today (LFA17), where it was clear blue skies all day. Particularly busy
for the Lakes with an F-15 (don't ask where the picture is), 7 Tucano's, 4 Harrier
GR.7/7As, a Lynx, a Tornado GR.4 and F.3, a Jaguar T.4 and a Hawk from 100 Squadron.
Harrier GR.7s (ZD463 '53' and ZD379 '27') of 1 Squadron from RAF Cottesmore. The Royal Navy Lynx HMA.8 of 815 Squadron (XZ690 'IR 404') is a very rare sight in the Lakes, here flying at just 50 feet above the lake to avoid on coming fast jets.
|As Hawks are very common in Wales (LFA7) Tucano's are almost as common in the Lakes (LFA17). The second Tucano is in 207(R) Squadron colours. I normally adjust the shutter speed to no more 1/350 for propellers, to at least give some motion blur. The problem shooting with a long lens is that you need a good speed to prevent camera shake. All these shots were taken at 1/350.|
|Tornado GR.4 (ZA602 'XIII') from 13 Squadron RAF Marham. The Tornado F.3 (ZE728/-) of 25 Squadron at RAF Leeming is a rare sight these days at low level. Harrier GR.7A (ZD436 '48A') minus any squadron colours but reported as with 3 Squadron from RAF Cottesmore.|
|Two shots of Harrier GR.7A (ZD465 '55A') again without any squadron markings, but believed to be operating with the FJ&W OEU (ex 4 Squadron) since August 13. Also two shots of Jaguar T.4 (XX847 'PY') of 16(R) Squadron from RAF Coltishall.|
|Monday August 2, 2004, 'Mad Monday' up in the Lakes today (LFA17), where it was bright but very hazy, making it very difficult to pick them up, as they came up the valley. One of the better days, six Tornado GR.4s, a Harrier, Tucano, four Hawks and my first Typhoon at low level. From left: Tornado GR.4 of 31 Squadron based at Marham, (it did have a 2 Squadron badge on the other side of the tail). Typhoon T.1 (ZJ808 'BG') of 29(R) Squadron / Typhoon Operational Conversion Unit (TOCU), currently at BAe Warton. This is the first time a 29(R) Squadron Typhoon has been photographed at low level, ZJ808 was only delivered on June 28, 2004.|
|Three more Tornado GR.4s of 14 Squadron based at Lossiemouth (ZA492 'BO' ZG756 'BX' and two images of ZA560 'BC').|
|Tornado GR.4 (ZA406 'FU') of 12 Squadron based at Lossiemouth. Tornado GR.4 and Harrier GR.7 (ZG857) from FJ&W OEU based at Coningsby, flying together.|
|Tuesday July 13, 2004,
Sunny with large white clouds all day. 16 Hawks including a 100 Squadron and one from the
RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine. Also 8 Tucano's in a mad hour.
|Tuesday May 21, 2004, Excellent weather all day, but once again only Hawks (33) through the pass. From 9:30, when the first Hawk came through, another 14 followed in the next hour. The first two shots are of XX311 in successive passes, three minutes apart.|
|First image of XX322 of 208(R) Squadron, was taken at 1/250 f5.6 and ISO 400 as for a brief period I lost the sun. The lens used was Canon 100-400 at just 180mm (+ 1.6 digital aspect ratio) for this full-frame shot. The final image shows XX203 of 19(R) Squadron is carrying a 30mm Aden Mk.4 Cannon pack. The gun can carry 120 rounds of ammunition and has a rate of fire of 1200 rounds per minute. It is used by 19(R) Squadron for strafing practice on the range at RAF Pembrey Sands on the south Wales coast or for Air to Air firing at a banner towed by another Hawk.|
|Some of the more 'scenic' shots, showing the skill of the pilot and the agility of the Hawk, coming in low and to squeeze through the tight gorge. The third shot was taken at f5.6 (AV mode), 1/1000 and ISO 200 and 260mm.|
|Tuesday May 18, 2004. 43 Hawks and a Tornado GR.4. One of the very best days for movements, combined with excellent weather. First movement was at 11:19 and 13 Hawks came by up till 14:00, when I moved further up the pass, and another 28 Hawks and a GR4 came through from then till 17:00. All the Hawks were 4 FTS (19(R) and 208(R) Squadrons) with the exception of two Royal Navy (FRADU) Hawks and also three different unmarked Hawks (XX185 two passes, XX245 and XX287).|
|Left to right: Hawk T.1s (XX???, XX245, XX200 and XX???).|
|Left to right: The Tornado GR.4 (ZD715) from the FJ&W OEU (formally SAOEU) at RAF Coningsby, came through very low at 15:23. The Hawks were coming through in singles and pairs every five-six minutes at one point.|
|Wednesday March 24, 2004. 14 Hawks. With 'Wycombe Warrior' and 'Fast Mover' Exercises NOTAM'd for the week, anticipation was high for some front line low level flying action. However everything was happening elsewhere and nothing was seen apart from Hawks. Hawk T.1 (XX290 'CU') from 100 Squadron, Hawk T.1 (XX220) of 208(R) Squadron pulling out of low level. Two shots of Hawk T.1 (XX181) of 208(R) Squadron flying low through the Bwlch. It must be said that two Typhoons were seen at low-level but pulled out of the valley just before they got to me. This was probably the first time Typhoons have gone low-level in mid-Wales.|