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One of my best days in the hills of Wales
October 24, 2008
Friday October 24, 2008 will live long in my memory. It was cold, windy but sunny on 'Bluebell Hill' in mid Wales with the clocks going back an hour at the weekend it was my last chance to get a full day's low level photography. The low sun produced some particularly stunning light in the morning and consequently some pleasing images.

First there was an early F-15E Strike Eagle from RAF Lakenheath, at 10:10 it appeared around the corner its upper surfaces looked like glass when reflecting the sunlight it had streamers coming from the wing tips.

Secondly ten minutes later came 'Snake Flight' a pair of Scotland based Tornado GR.4s from RAF Lossiemouth, they were travelling home after a night-stop at RAF Marham in Norflok. Wales is not exactly the shortest route home but hey pilots can make the most of their sorties.

The day continued with many more passes, 27 in total including; 15 Hawks, a Tucano, two Tornado GR.4s and numerous F-15E Strike Eagles. While there were well above the average number of passes it was the quality of some of the images that made the day an exceptional one for me. What was really remarkable was the corresponding interest from magazine editors, below are the better images with details of those images selected by editors for publication. As you will see creative cropping and image rotation can make the images more attractive and dynamic.


Tornado GR.4 (ZA473) of 12(B) Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth. The image has been cropped at 45 degrees and rotated to produce a dramatic affect, specifically I was hoping for a front-cover when I submitted this image.
'Aircraft' March 2009
'Aircraft' 100 Best Pictures

"One of the 100 best images published in Aircraft Illustrated"

The image was first published with another image of mine in the March 2009 issue of 'Aircraft' (Illustrated) magazine. It was printed full page as the lead in for an article entitled 'The Aircraft Defence Review'.

In September 2009 Aircraft (Illustrated) produced volume 1 of a glossy publication entitled 'Collector's Edition - 100 Best Pictures'. Remarkably it was selected as; "One of the 100 best images published in Aircraft Illustrated."

The introduction by Allan Burney, Editor explains what the publication was all about;

'Welcome to 100 of the world's greatest aviation images, a celebration of the skill and artistry of today's digital aircraft photographer. Over the last 30 years it has been my privilege to work with the best aviation photographers in the world and to view and edit their work into the pages of Aircraft Illustrated which continues the tradition of bringing you the very best in aviation photography'.


My image was the only one of the 100 fantastic images selected of a military jet flying at low level.

 
The Ministry of Defence contacted me in 2009 and again in 2010 wanting some images for some internal publications on low-flying which are given to every Member of Parliament. I gave them a wide range of images one was selected for the front cover (although its hard to recognise after their artwork department got a hold of it). A pair of F-15E Strike Eagles from the mid-afternoon sortie was chosen by them to represent the USAFE using the UK low-fly System.
F-15E Strike Eagle on the 'round-about' in the early morning sun at 10:10. Although this image has never been published it is one of my favourite images of 2008 and appears on my study wall as a A3 letterbox shaped print. It is bit of a crop but still really sharp, the dark background is the hillside opposite in shadow.
(DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L at 1/640 at f.5 with -2/3 exposure compensation and ISO 200).

Six frames later the F-15E Strike Eagle is no longer back-lit, I really like the angle of the aircraft relative to the camera.
Air Combat magazine April 2009 edition were first to use this image, cropping it to portrait style it was printed as a full page.
I wrote an 5,400 word article which was published in July 2011 issue of Aeronautika published. A selection of images were submitted, one was chosen for the front cover and the image above was included with the article.
Later for November 2011 edition of Air Forces Monthly Gary Parsons, Editor cropped the image even further to give it more impact for the magazine's front cover.
My images including front cover for article on Mach Loop in Pacific Wings July 2013 magazine.
The second aircraft of a pair flying from RAF Marham to Lossiemouth Tornado GR.4 (ZD810 '102') it has 'Spirit of Speyside' nose art and was in XV Squadron markings.
(DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L at 1/640 at f.7.1 with -2/3 exposure compensation and ISO 200) this frame as yet is unpublished
   
I wrote an 5,500 word article entitled 'Fly Low Level - An Essential but Perishable Skill' ofr UK Air Power 2011 which was published in May 2011. Again a large selection of images were submitted. The Key Publishing graphic designers selected one of the images in the sequence to crop and rotate so that it would fit the front cover
Left to right: Some of the images used for the article.
I have included some of my own creative crops and rotations from images taken in the day.

Help for Heroes is a charity formed to help those who have been wounded in Britain's current conflicts.

Philip Stevens has donated his best images for the disposal of the charity, including these two. Working with Kevin Hunt of the Royal Air Force Police Association images have been printed and circulated within the RAF as far as Afghanistan for signing by aircrew to be auctioned to raise money for the charity.

Left to right:
F-15E Strike Eagle (91-0324) of 494 FS, 48 FW. (DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L plus a x1.4 extender at 1/640 at f.8 with -2/3 exposure compensation and ISO 200). This image is a severe crop of a full-frame image, however I can get away with this due to the high resolution and sharpness of the image. Keep clicking image to see full-frame shot.

Tornado GR.4 (ZD810 '102') in XV Squadron markings low level through Wales in October 2008, the back-seat is studying the map. (DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L plus a x1.4 extender at 1/640 at f.7.1 with -2/3 exposure compensation and ISO 200). This is a cropped image, keep clicking image to see full-frame shot.

Tornado GR.4 (ZD810 '102') it has 'Spirit of Speyside' nose art and was in XV Squadron markings.
(DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L at 1/640 at f.6.3 with -2/3 exposure compensation and ISO 200).
 F-15E Strike Eagle (91-0324 'LN') of the 494 FS, 48 FW on October 24, 2008.
(DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L at 1/640 at f.5 with -1/3 exposure compensation and ISO 200).
Many more exciting images were taken on this wonderful day which can be seen in my low level logs for 2008.