The United States Air Force Thunderbirds recently performed at the 2012 graduation ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The day before, I was able to watch them practice from a hilltop nearby.
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While it had been a partly cloudy morning, the clouds parted just in time as the Thunderbirds flew directly overhead a couple of times and I was able to get these striking photos against a blue sky. I’m so glad I photographed them on this day because the following day, at the ceremony, skies were completely overcast.
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Production Notes: Shot in RAW format using a Nikon D300 with an 80 x 400mm Nikkor zoom lens. Using a daylight white balance, the aperture was set at f14, with a shutter speed of 1/640, and ISO 200. Using the f14 setting gives a fairly deep depth of field to ensure a good focus. The moderately fast 1/640 shutter speed is good enough to freeze the motion. Normally, I shoot with an ISO of 400, but on a bright day with the potential of a few clouds, and white subjects, changing the ISO to 200 will help to avoid overexposure. Slight Vibrance and Saturation bumps were performed using Adobe Camera RAW Converter to add a little punch to the color. Minimal editing was done in Photoshop CS5.5 using an Unsharp Mask with Amount set at 50%, Radius of 1.0 and a Threshold of 0 to give a nice definition to the aircraft.
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