So whats the deal with hanging around on a mountain when its minus 6C? The main reason for me visiting Wales a couple of years ago, was to get that high impact shot. Little did I know at the time how addictive this would become. Basically, its photographing Military Jets as they fly through the mountains at 500 knots at around 500ft above ground. You have zero time to get ready as they appear from around a mountain with no warning whatsoever. You dont hear them until they have gone past you, by then its too late. There’s no time table, there’s no telling what may ‘pop’ around the corner, its very much a waiting game. Some of the surprise can be taken out by using a Military Scanner to work out whose where and doing what to who. But most of the time its pot luck.
So whats the shot? Well this was taken on the same day as I shot the image of Cad in the above post. Photographer friends of mine had commented how much if you’ve seen one jet, you’ve seen another, theres nothing that separated mine from the rest. Well given the snowy conditions, the effort put into getting there and nailing the shot kind of made me think this one has impact too. The kick I really get from these images is peoples feedback when they see them. Then all sorts of questions get asked, where you flying, where are you etc. Its the reaction from other people and the WOW factor that makes me want to go and do this over and over again.
So not only did I manage to get some fantastic landscape images, getting this as well really was the icing on the cake for me. Not being a a full on plane spotter, this was the first time I had shot a BAE Typhoon and was something that I had wanted to see and capture for a long time. As mentioned in the previous blog post there are lots of reasons for me to visit Wales. One of the things I really enjoy is the tranquility, the hilarious company up there – I do think you have to be half mad to do this, but when you’re rewarded with an image like this, its very hard not to want to go back for more.
Although I rate this image high on my list for many reasons, the one that I have hanging on the wall, and there isnt that many, is this one I took around 18 months ago. Ive always been a fan of the USAF F15 Strike Eagles, so to be able to catch one of these low level and fast was pretty special. Ive known photographers who are into this ‘sport’ go two years without seeing them this close. Getting frustrated time and time again seeing them above, never descending and returning back to Lakenheath.
What made this image so special was the fact the Weapons System Officer (the guy in the back) is looking right at us. Now how the hell you pick some idiot out on a hill at 500knots is beyond me. So as cool as you like they fly past and stare. Sometimes if we are really lucky we will get a salute. Being slightly biased our boys in the RAF do this more often than not. So again back to the wow factor when I show people this image their reaction is fantastic. Ive managed to capture some pretty special stuff over there. An Apache crew training a few weeks before being deployed to Afghanistan, Special Forces Hercules practicing a low level run, trainee pilots in Hawk’s from RAF Valley being put through their paces, I could go on and on. I think what really amazes people who know me well, they say how do you of all people stand around for so long waiting for something that just might happen when you are the most impatient man on the planet?
And the answer to that? Because for me doing this time goes by so fast and laughs I have there will keep me going back for more and more.