The Vulcan at the Weston Air Festival

Following hot on the heels of yesterdays post about The Red Arrows comes another Air Show favourite, the Vulcan. The Vulcan was the final aircraft to display at the Weston Air Festival this weekend and, just like The Red Arrows, the display was in bright sunshine and a little cloud.

From a photography point of view having bright sun behind the subject means that a lot of photos come out like silhouettes. With modern photo processing software it’s possible to rescue some of the colour and detail, but usually to limited success. Well, with my limited skill in Adobe Lightroom! Today’s trip out has made me realise that I need a longer zoom lens too.

This Avro Vulcan XH558 is run by the charity Vulcan To The Sky who maintain and run the aircraft for air shows. Originally the Vulcan was a nuclear bomber, never used to deliver nuclear bombs in action luckily. It’s known for its distinctive delta wing (V shape) design and howling engines. Have a look at the Vulcan To The Sky website for the history of this aircraft.

When I was a child my Dad worked on Nimrod at Woodford and occasionally visited RAF Waddington, where the Vulcans were based. Each year a Vulcan would display at the Woodford Air Show, and I vividly remember the Vulcan climbing vertically and forcing itself to stall and gracefully fall before powering up the engines to fly off.

The Red Arrows at the Weston Air Festival

Today is the summer soltace, the longest day of the year, and so it seemed a good day to escape the stresses of life for a while and head to the Weston Air Festival for a bit of daylight. I didn’t have time to spend the whole day there, so just popped along to photograph The Red Arrows.

For anyone who doesn’t know, The Red Arrows are the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team and can be found putting on amazing displays of close flying and colour at most of the main summer air shows here in the UK.

Wanting to avoid the crowds, and knowing the local roads, I aimed to position myself on a hill to the north of Weston-super-Mare so that I could almost look down on the display. Little did I know that half of Weston had the same idea. The spot I was headed for was as crowded as the fantastic beach at Weston.

I decided to zoom into the town centre and get myself to the top of one of the towns multi storey car parks, where I enjoyed the display with a few like minded folk in the sun.

It was a great show, although it’s one of the occasions I wished I had a longer lens to get closer to the action! It was the first time I’d had a real use for fast continuous shooting and continual auto focus of the Olympus OMD E-M1, and was the ideal place to play with settings.

Gadget Show Live 2014

Each year the Gadget Show Live event takes place here in the UK to show off the current and future consumer technologies. 2014 marked my third visit to Gadget Show Live, and it was a great opportunity to take my camera along to get a few photos for the blog.

Gadget Show Live is a spin-off of The Gadget Show TV programme. Although I’m not a regular viewer these days, I have previously appeared in a couple of programmes when I was ever so slightly addicted to the show a few years ago. I first went along to take part in a Focus Group feature on remote control gadgets. It was great to play with the gadgets, including a remote control car with virtual reality headset, and I had a good chat with Jon Bentley about cars (Jon was previously a producer on Top Gear). I went back for another programme to look at outdoor party gadgets, and somehow got roped into a karaoke rendition of Summer Nights with Dallas Campbell (now of BBC science nerdery fame) and Suzi Perry (now of BBC F1 fame).

This year’s Gadget Show Live was on a smaller scale to last year, about half the size by my reckoning, but there was still enough gadgetry to keep me interested for a whole day. Walking around so much definitely made me appreciate just how lightweight my Olympus OMD E-M1 camera and lenses are compared to my old Canon camera set up!

I went along with my good friend and fellow photography geek Ryan. I’d been tweeting about my visit and as a result got invited to get photos of a couple of stands. Sarah Holburn, singer-songwriter extraordinaire, was doing regular live performances on the iT7 Audio stand. I caught one of Sarah’s performances which was simply amazing to hear, see, and photograph. The Vibe Collection stand was probably the best lit and brightest stand there, it was a great opportunity to get some close-up photos of their brightly coloured watches.

Each year seems to have its own themes – something that almost all the stands seem to be demonstrating or selling. This year’s themes were speakers, headphones, and quadrocopters. Speakers and headphones weren’t of much interest, but I was very impressed with some of the quadrocopters on the DJI stand. Their ability to zoom around so gracefully and hover still enough to get amazing photos and video from dizzying heights; definitely an addition to my future gadget list!

Something else for my list is a Go Pro camera. I’ve long been a fan of these robust little camera’s that you can attach to pretty much anything for photos, video, or time lapse. I was interested to see some similar products around the show, but nothing could beat the quality / price point of the Go Pro in my opinion. I was hoping for a show discount on the Hero 3+ Black edition, but no discounts were available and so my credit card remained intact… for the time being!

I also took a visit to the Olympus stand to play with the new baby OMD, the E-M10, and some of the lenses not in my collection. I was particularly taken with the 25mm f1.8 and 12-40mm f2.8 lenses, yet more things for my bank manager to be worried about. Whilst there I got chatting to Robert Pugh, a professional photographer and thoroughly nice chap who was on the stand and also runs some Olympus workshops. He gave me some great tips on how to get the best out of my Samyang Fisheye lens, and suggested I visit his YouTube channel for a few more tips – if you’re an Olympus user I’d definitely recommend a look. I plan to go on one of his workshops some time and will of course blog about it.

But for now, here are my top photos from Gadget Show Live 2014…