Air Force Academy graduation air show
      Colorado Springs
      May 30, 2007

      Last week Mike and I took a picnic to watch the AFA air show. When we moved to Colorado Springs, people told me not to miss this show, and I thought, “Sure, that sounds pretty cool.” No, in fact it isn’t pretty cool–it’s freaking unbelievable. I have no idea how maneuvers like these are possible. I got chills watching it all! I would love to have seen the show from the AFA stadium. What a thrill that must be for the cadets!


      you are awesome

      what a wonderful blog.. and all the pic.. its so nice..
      I am a malaysian studio wedding photographer..I mean junior.. haha


      interestingly in researching who the #6 pilot is, it turns out that 1/3 of the Thunderbird’s officers are female this year, which is awesome! Two pilots (#3 and #6) and two support officers. One in PR and one other.

      Oh cool… I’d love to go to an AFA game!

      It’s definitely worth checking out. I never had much interest in airplanes, so I was suprised at how much I enjoyed the airshow.

      Thanks, Kate! Let’s see if I can help. Taking photos of moving airplanes outside on a sunny day will require a different strategy than photographing an indoor recital. I had lots of light to work with, so airplane motion was my only technical challenge. I didn’t use an image stabilizer, but I didn’t need one with that much sunlight. I set a fast shutter speed to freeze the action, and everything turned out fine.

      When you were photographing the recital, your challenge was probably the low light inside the room. Your camera was using a slow shutter speed to get enough light to expose the photo. The slow shutter speed probably led to motion blur in the dancers, as well as camera shake from you holding it. There are a variety of ways you could fix that problem:
      – higher ISO
      – larger aperture
      – tripod
      – image stabilizer

      I hope this helps!

      You’ve got to go! We took a picnic to the grassy area off the Interquest Parkway exit, and the view there was great.

      Hi Elena! That’s awesome that you were at the AFA graduation! I bet that was an amazing spectacle. Congrats to your brother!

      LOL… You sure know a lot more about this than I do!

      Wow, good eye! Yes, that’s the Air Force Academy chapel in the background, with the spires.

      Hi Daria! It’s great to know that you’ve enjoyed our photos enough to share them with your friends. Thanks for such wonderful feedback!

      Wow, those photos of the St. Petersburg airshow are extraordinary! I really enjoyed them. Thanks for the links!


      Do I see the church in the background that you have shot some weddings in?

      greeeeat shots!

      Hi Charlotte,
      My name’s Daria, I’m from Russia.

      It’s been a while since I started reading your lj (the very first post was about a beautiful wedding of the two girls)
      I always enjoy the pictures and sometimes place those I really love in my lj (of cause I say they’re yours – all my friends already know you by name πŸ™‚
      I’m not a photographer and don’t know anything about technical difficulties of photography and stuff. Let’s say I’m just a “user” πŸ™‚

      Thank you and Mike for the beauty you create! πŸ™‚

      As for the air show, I just loved the scene.
      I also thought it might be interesting for you to take a look at some shots of the air show that was held in St.Petersburg last weekend (me myself live in Moscow). They seemed to me quite impressive as well –

      Very nice pics!
      Makes me want to go to Colorado when I see those beautiful mountains!


      General rule of thumb is that you can’t handhold a camera, or take pictures of motion, when the shutter speed is slower than 1/focal_length. With a telephoto lense that makes the situation “fun” πŸ˜› Without flash in an indoor area especially.

      Since you have a camera with a 1.6 crop factor that makes it even more fun. For example if you put a 100mm lense on that camera it is effectively a 160mm lense. This means that in order to shoot handheld with medium amounts of motion you are going to have to have a shutter speed of 1/200th of a second. Getting that kind of speed out of a lense that probably has aperture of f/3.5-f/5.6 means turning the ISO way up and hoping for a good amount of lighting.

      Anyways… first suggestion is use a tripod… then YOUR motion is taken mostly out of the equation. Better lenses get you more light (try the 70$ Canon 50mm f/1.8… It is not a zoom/telephoto lens but you will never believe the shots you can take with it indoors and it is a VERY sharp lense) Image stabilization gets you 2-3 stops better performance (ie with a 100mm lense you could shoot at 1/60 of a second) but they are $$$$.

      Anyways… use a tripod… turn up your ISO when indoors… and when photographing motion make sure you are shooting with a shutter speed faster than 1/focal_length. If you really want to take it to the next notch start shooting with your images in RAW format instead of JPEG. Then you can fix the exposure and lighting color issues after the fact and recover images that in JPEGs would be fixed in stone.


      That looks awesome from your pictures, but I bet it was better in person.

      excellent photos! πŸ™‚

      It is because I am the daughter of an Air Force geek and an air show fanatic that I can say that number 6 place is way far out in that first formation! LOL

      Beautiful shots!

      Hi, Charlotte! I saw your work first on the wedding plans community and then on your website (i’m researching some wedding photographers for my best friend, not just randomly stalking). I decided to check out your journal – which is awesome. I just have to comment on these pictures because I was at that air show. my younger brother graduated from AFA, so I was out in Colorado Springs just last week. Your photos of the show are wonderful, I especially love the first one- a shot I tried to get, and failed terribly at!
      Anyway, I hope you don’t think this random comment is too weird!

      Lovely, especially with snow mountains on background.

      Hehe. I have lived here almost all my life (five years were in Grand Junction and Denver) and I have never been out to see them fly.

      Great shots!

      awesome shots!

      i have a canon rebel, and i cannot get clear shots of anything in motion. do you use a lens with a built in stabilizer in it to take shots like this? i have a telephoto lens, but when i tried to take pictures of a dance recital with no flash, i overexposed half of them and the others are blurry.

      i love seeing your posts- you are a truly gifted photographer!

      We have an annual airshow as part of the Rose Festival. I’ve never gone but this is making me rethink that.

      Nice shots! πŸ™‚

      A few years back, I went to a football game at the AFA stadium, and at halftime, they did flyovers by a number of aircraft.

      I would imagine a full-on airshow would be even more impressive.

      And Colorado gives you some wonderful backdrops to shoot the action against. πŸ™‚

      Charlotte Geary


      Lifestyle, event, and portrait photographer with a vibrant, joyful style and 17 years of professional experience.

      Located in Reston, Virginia near Washington, D.C. and available for travel.