It's been a while since I did one of these so I want to first, say sorry for the sabbatical. I've had a few things change in my life recently, mainly that my Father died on January 10th. It wasn't unexpected, but still had a pretty major effect on me that has given me some new perspective on life, and photography. I now know that I have to work harder on seeing the beauty around me rather than just passing through it without noticing. With that I will let the pictures do the talking.
This photo is sunrise from the morning my father passed away. It looks like the gates of heaven were being opened for him.
It's amazing the beauty of the hoar frost in the fog from western Minnesota.
Bluejays are some of my favorite birds.
Since Photography means painting with light, it's appropriate that our education night recently at FMCC was light painting. Long exposures and low light with a light source made for some interesting photos.
I hope you enjoy the time you have with your camera and make it the best it can be. Remember to print your photos. At Dad's funeral and wake, we had many pictures of him that brought back amazing memories. It's these photos that started many conversations about his life and brought back many good times remembered.
With that hug your families and take lots of pictures.
President Fargo Moorhead Camera Club.
Son of Micheal George Court
June 5th 1939 to January 10th 2020.
August 31, 2019
Thirteen is not usually considered a lucky number, unless you are an aviation buff, and you are attending the 13th annual Battle Lake Gathering of Airplanes (BLGA) at the Battle Lake Airport, in Battle Lake, Minnesota (Identifier 00MN) also known as the Tribute to Gerry Beck.
I’ve attended and photographed many fly-in’s and airshows, and this is both of those, but it takes place at a small grass airstrip in the lake’s country of western central Minnesota and has grown into a pretty spectacular event. The BLGA is held every Labor Day weekend on Saturday from 10AM until 2 PM to commemorate the renowned warbird rebuilder, Gerald “Gerry” Beck, known to most of his friends and even his wife Cindy, and daughter Whitney as “Beck”.
This was my second year attending and photographing this event and it was an amazing experience once again.
The 2019 Fly-in was the largest of the 13 yearly events so far, according to Patricia “Pat” Kostelecky the coordinator of the event. There were 82 aircraft and at least 500 people, attended including many who are heavily involved with war bird rebuilding and restoration, such as Casey Odegaard of Odegaard Aviation and the Fargo Air Museum, Warren Pietsch of the Dakota Territories Air Museum in Minot, ND, Ron Fagen of Fagen Fighters Museum in Granite Falls, MN, all must see locations if you like old war birds.
The initial Battle Lake Gathering of Airplanes, 14 years ago, had 10 people and 3 airplanes. The Fly-in was planned to gather support to try and save the Battle Lake Airport. The local community was contemplating closing it due the operating cost, not seeing the benefit of the small strip and hangers to the area. Gerry Beck and friends were trying to show how much revenue it generated for the town and surrounding areas and to raise funds to keep it open. The Becks had purchased a local lake home mainly due to the closeness and convenience of the Battle Lake Airport. Even though it was a small grass airstrip, with just a few hangers, it allowed he and many other pilots who spend their summers at lake homes and cottages in the area, to fly in for the weekend from Minneapolis and other parts of Minnesota, North and South Dakota and even farther away.
So, Gerry Beck, a renowned warbird restorer and founding member of the Fargo Air Museum, was a key supporter involved in the planning of this initial event. It just so happens that he was sick the day of the event, and couldn’t attend, then by the time the 2nd year of the event was planned, he had been killed in an accident in the 2007 EAA Air Venture in Oshkosh Wisconsin. From then on, the yearly event was also a memorial airshow to Gerry as well as the gathering of vintage and modern aircraft. It remains a gathering of friends and a fund raiser for the airport as well.
Gerry was well known for his vintage plane restoration business in Wahpeton, called Tri-State Aviation, which grew out of a crop-spraying operation. Gerry completed several of his own full restorations and participated on many others. These restorations of Warbirds included P51 Mustangs, an F4U Corsair, a TBM Avenger, a Hawker Sea Fury, and a Mitsubishi Zero. The rebuilding and restoring of planes led them on many “Family Vacations” looking for just the right parts for these historic planes.
Gerry Beck was born in 1949 in Guelph, North Dakota. From the Tri-State Aviation’s Gerry Beck Memorial Page: Beck discovered a love for aviation after becoming involved in skydiving during his college years at the University of North Dakota. He graduated from UND with an Industrial Arts Degree, and while teaching high school in Grand Forks, North Dakota, he continued his path in aviation by obtaining a private pilot’s license and rebuilding his first airplane.
In 1974, he founded Tri-State Aviation, Inc. (TSA), an aerial spraying and aircraft maintenance firm located in Wahpeton, North Dakota. During his agricultural aviation career, Beck developed, or contributed to the development of, numerous items that enhanced pilot and aircraft safety and efficiency within the agricultural aviation industry.
Before becoming interested in, and specializing in warplane building, Beck developed several crop-spraying innovations that are widely used today. These innovations include a special spraying boom incorporating an airfoil shape instead of round tubes.
Beck’s funeral at the Fargo Air Museum had hundreds in attendance, and the large turnout for the funeral was a testament to Beck's abilities as a warplane restorer and advocate, and the closeness of the community of enthusiasts.
The first thing to strike you about the Battle Lake Gathering of Airplanes, and to make it such an amazing event, is the camaraderie of those in attendance. The next is the wide variety of aircraft and being able to walk among them up close and personal.
It’s rare to see one Beechcraft Stagger wing at a small-town fly in, but there were 2 of them this year’s BLGA. One, the yellow N985SW, is owned by Warren Peitsch, mentioned earlier, who was a very good friend of Beck. According to Whitney Beck, it was a surprise arrival since the plane was Warren’s latest project. Several people said he had finished just a week before the event and was making its maiden long flight after restoration. The plane was in like new condition and a highlight of the show.
Some other notable airplanes, among the many rare and vintage aircraft and the number of war birds in attendance, were; several T-6 Texans or Harvard’s as they are known abroad, the ‘310C’ Vought F4 U Corsair owned by Cindy and Whitney Beck, rebuilt by Gerry Beck and flown by John Sinclair, the TBM Avenger T83, flown by Brad Deckert, the P51 Mustang, Boomer, flown by Tim McPherson, several Boeing PT17 Stearman Trainer aircraft and a Marine Corps T34 Mentor. Also notable among the rare aircraft were 2 Belanca’s, a 1972 and a 1973 model 17-30 and 31, a 1950 Piper PA18, several models and years of Van’s RV aircraft including Gerry Beck’s own RV4 that Whitney and Cindy Beck both confirmed as Beck’s favorite airplane to fly. Whitney even said, “That when asked, her father would pick the RV over all the warbirds and other aircraft he had flown as his favorite to fly due to its nimble handling and ability to get to the small airport at Battle Lake in 15 minutes from Wahpeton’s Harry Stern Airport, the home base of Tri-State Aviation.” She said that he loved being able to pull it out of the hanger by hand even with his bad knees.
Other interesting aircraft were a 1959 Downer Belanca, a 1980 Rupp Roger Starduster biplane, a 1961 DeHavilland Beaver complete with floats, and a 1946 Fairchild 24W46 Argus.
With 82 planes at the event there were too many to name, but there were also many Cessna and Piper Variants as well as a Carbon Cub and Aviat Husky to name a few.
The Legacy of Gerry Beck – From the Tri-State Aviation Gerry Beck Memorial Page.
Beck openly shared his knowledge and his passion for aviation. He encouraged and assisted others, willingly spent time with people of all ages who exhibited an interest in his endeavors, participated in airshows and aviation events, and was instrumental in the formation of the Fargo Air Museum. Gerry’s vision was to build a second wing on the museum, to house restoration projects complete with rivet stations, audio WWII vignettes, welding and aviation basics.
Beyond aviation, his philanthropy was evident in every aspect of his life as he gave tirelessly of his time, talents and dreams. He was a visionary, a thinker with an undaunted, steadfast, positive outlook. Beck’s legacy will be the indelible mark he left on the many lives he touched worldwide.
Many antique aircraft perform at today’s airshows and races worldwide were directly touched by Gerry Beck or Tri-State Aviation. ‘The Restorers’, is an hour-long documentary film about warbird and vintage aircraft restorers and the planes they resurrect from the graves of history… In the snows of North Dakota, we find two of the best warbird builders in the world in Gerry Beck and Bob Odegaard, builders of Mustangs and a rare Super Corsair respectively. ‘The Restorers’, is available to view at https://www.hemlockfilms.com/the-restorers-season-1,
If interested in finding out more about Gerry, there is also a great article with photos of the builds in Warbird News by Matthew Mc Daniel, written in 2016, about his projects including his P51’s, F4U Corsair, Zero, and Hell Diver Rebuilds. http://warbirdsnews.com/tag/gerry-beck
Gerry was also involved in the making of the movie “Thunder over Reno” which featured Bob Odegaard’s Super Corsair.
I knew Gerry in passing due to being a volunteer at the Fargo Air Museum for a time, and having a passion for vintage aircraft and warbirds. I am also an avid aircraft photographer, and this event is unique in that you can see, and be among, all these wonderfully restored aircraft from a very close distance. All the planes are marshalled on the ground, but you often have to be aware of taxiing airplanes when moving around the parked aircraft to look at them.
To say this is a close-knit community of aviators is an understatement. It’s more like a family gathering where the public is invited to partake these beautiful flying machines. Many of the participants have been attending since the first annual event.
So, if you decide to go to the 14th annual event on Labor Day weekend 2020, check Facebook for the event “Battle Lake Gathering of Airplanes” on the Midwest Airshow, Fly-in and Flight Club group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/MNFlightClub/. Make sure to bring $5 for the Raffle fund raiser for the airport and a few dollars for lunch, fly-in or drive in, but make sure to get their early to get a spot and ensure they don’t run out of food (2019). There might be 1000 people there next year and over 100 aircraft on a small grass strip in western central Minnesota. Enjoy the view on landing as you will be coming into this airport over the lake and watch the wind, it can shift on you. Hope to see you there.
The information for this article was gathered from interviewing Cindy and Whitney Beck, Pat Kostelecky, Kreg Anderson and Todd Weber a former employee of Odegaard Aviation as well as several articles in local newspapers, one written by Robin Huebner and published in the Grand Forks Herald. Also, with information by Gary Renier, and from attending the event, as well as the Tri-State Aviation website.
Thanks to Gary Renier, a friend of Beck’s and a Battle Lake area summer resident who led an aviation photography event at my first show in 2018 for the Fargo Camera Club. Gary, a former Optometrist in Fargo, ND, is also heavily involved with Aircraft photography being a volunteer at the Commemorative Airforce Museum in Arizona, and former Fargo Camera Club President.
It is my very distinct pleasure to write this article and get to know these wonderful people a little better.
President, Fargo Moorhead Camera Club.
Owner, Kings Court Creative Photography.
Well, it's that time of year again for Milky Way Season. The part of the year when the galactic core is above the horizon. In our part of the country that really kicks in from about mid May to mid September.
Night sky photography can be challenging any time of the year, but especially this time of year for the northern latitudes, mainly because it is dark for a much shorter part of the night.
In the winter we can have darkness from 5 PM to 7AM, but this time of the year, it's really only dark from about 11 PM to 5 AM and even then, at both ends you will still get a bit of light pollution. Compound that with full moons taking up about a week per month of bright light, and the normal spring and summer cloudy, stormy days and you might get 7 to 10 good nights of photographing the night sky in a season.
That said, it pays to make it a priority when you can. If you see that it will be a clear night without the lunar interference, try to get out and take some photos of the milky way.
Here's what you will need to a make it happen.
A good camera with decent ISO performance is a must. You will be shooting from ISO 1600 to 6000 depending on your lens and the area where you shoot. The lower this number the better, but there are other factors that will determine what ISO at which you'll be shooting. Also, you need to be able to set a long exposure or have a bulb mode with cable release or remote.
Lens: Wider is better for a number of reasons, but also a low aperture number is key and having a sharp lens, with low levels of chromatic aberration also helps. These types of lenses can be expensive if you buy brand name, but if you are buying just for this type of photography, they don't have to be. Manual focus capability is actually beneficial so if you find a cheaper lens without auto focus, and it has good ratings for sharpness and a F 2.8 or lower aperture, go for it. Also, you won't need vibration compensation as you will be shooting on a tripod all the time. I shoot on a 12mm Rokinon F2 lens which is manual focus and was $269.00.
Tripod: You will need a good stable tripod. Lighter is not necessarily better unless you plan to carry it a lot. Also, bring something to weigh it down so it won't move in the wind.
So with the gear nailed down here's some of the explanation of the shoot.
First is finding the milky way. Even in a dark skies location this can be a challenge unless you have seen it before and know what to look for. I suggest an app like Sky Safari, or The Photographers Ephemeris. I like Sky Safari 4 as it shows me real time, on my phone where to look for the milky way and many other night sky objects just by holding it up in the direction I want to look.
As with all photography, you want to have an interesting foreground and middle ground, to accentuate your amazing background of the milky way. Composition matters and can make or break a great milky way shot. If you have power lines in your shot it will screw it up the same at night as it does during the day.
Next, set up to get the composition you want and check your settings before getting out of the car. I go for about ISO 3200 on my Sony A6300 and 25 seconds at F2. Make sure you're focus is set at infinity for your lens, or figure a hyper-focal length where everything from a certain distance will be in focus. There are apps for this as well.
Your lens will determine the shutter speed before smearing of the stars, as you want to use the rule of 500. That is the Full Frame 35mm equivalent focal length of your lens, divided into 500 gives you the max time you can expose without star trails. If you are using a 12mm at 1.5 crop, that's equal to 18mm at Full Frame, then round up to 20mm for a buffer and divide into 500. With the new math that's 25 seconds. If you are using a 24mm on a Full Frame Camera, that's easy. Round to 25 and divide giving you 20 seconds. If you are on a Canon, cropped sensor, you have a 1.6 crop factor which may require a calculator, but works the same way.
Now you're ready to get some great shots and maybe bring a flash you can pop during the exposure or a flashlight to do some light painting. You also can use the milky way as a great background for compositing with other shots like the elk photo when combined in your favorite layering software.
So now you're all set. Camera set up... On the tripod... in a great location... with no moon or lights from a town and you hear a coyote howl 50 feet away... LOL. I know from experience how fast I can pack up my gear and change locations. :). Bring a friend and enjoy the night sky. It's a blast. Oh, and if you hear a bump in the night... It might just be me moving my tripod.
Ah Spring... When young photographers minds turn to thoughts of.... What? Just saying... There are many opportunities for spring photography that do not present themselves at any other time of the year.
The sun is getting higher in the sky and staying up longer so there are opportunities for great sunset and sunrise photos even though you might have to get up a bit earlier to take them. Also, the spring clouds lend themselves to some great sky shots. You may also get a spring snow storm that will give you some great last snow shots for the year... The color plays between blue and the browns of the grass will make an interesting juxtaposition. Also, if there is harsh light, you can always play on the contrast and make the shot black and white.
Spring storms can make for some great photography as long as you understand where to be and how to photograph them without getting rolled by a tornado or struck by lightning. These storms can develop quickly and may get dangerous. Taking a course put on by the National Weather Service can help you understand how to do it, and even be able to report on the storms as a Skywarn Weather Spotter. If interested, check out the site below for times and places.
One of the other opportunities that only happen in the spring is getting photo's of the waterfowl migration and mating dances. You can also get some final shots of the Dark Eyed Junko's as they load up on food and head farther north, or get photos of the Hawk migration, and also get shots of Geese, Ducks, Swans, Cranes, etc doing what Cranes and Swans do. If you are lucky enough to get a non-windy day you might even get a great reflection shot.
Lastly, Take advantage of the conditions. If it's windy, get shots of things the show motion in the wind, like horses manes. If it's sunny get photo's in black and white or if it's cloudy, take portraits of animals or people. A spring rainstorm can make for some interesting street photography as people run between the buildings. Even shooting airplanes in the rain is interesting as the prop spins in the rain and makes a spiral behind the fuselage. It's all up to your imagination as to what to shoot, but bring your camera and make a shot.
As always updates first.
This Thursday 3/21/2019 will be this months Education night for the FMCC.
Thursday, March 21 @ 7 pm
Fargo Moorhead Camera Club - Education Night We will rotate to different areas for presentations by:
Angela Hoffman - Long Exposure Photography
Sharon Watson - Bird Photography
Jackie Feil - Infrared Photography
First Presbyterian Church
650 2nd Ave N, Fargo, ND
On the gear front, there have been a huge number of announcements for new lenses and camera bodies for multiple manufacturers so whatever brand interests you, know that there are some really cool options for upgrading and adding to your GAS... (Gear Acquisition Syndrome).
Having just returned from a vacation to not so sunny Arizona, (60s clouds and rain for 5 of the 8 days), I wanted to talk about photographing while on vacation.
The key to photographing vacation is taking advantage of what you have available. If you get clouds in Arizona, take a day trip to the White Tank Mountains and take advantage of the great lighting to get some fun landscapes.
Or you could photograph some birds at a friends feeder.
The key is to represent the area that you are photographing if you are going to use it for documenting your trip, whether while submitting for a Salon, for a travel magazine, or just to make an album of your vacation.
Another important feature of travel photography is to bring in important parts of the trip, like using a vintage car to make your drive to the mountains.
Make sure to include fun and interesting places that you take in, like an air museum, swap meet, vintage car show, or music museum. When you put it all together, and bring in the interest points you will have a great documentation of your adventure.
Commemorative Air Force Museum, Mesa AZ
Mesa Market Swap Meet.
This Thursday, 2-21-2019 is the monthly Education Night at FM Camera Club and we will be photographing birds from the C.A.A.R.E Parrott rescue program in Fargo.
The Center for Avian Adoption, Rescue, and Education (CAARE) is an all-volunteer, North Dakota, 501(c)(3), non-profit, parrot shelter devoted to the welfare of companion parrots. This group rescues parrots and helps people better manage the adoption of these amazing birds through education and awareness of their unique capabilities and needs. They also educate the general public about the proper care of exotic birds whenever anyone not familiar with owning and caring for parrots comes into the shelter. Another benefit of this group is that they will go out to events and locations to do this education in person, for a donation to the organization.
What makes us want to photograph birds and how do we do it well?
Birds are amazing creatures for many reasons. Most of all, that they can fly. They soar and wheel and seem to float effortlessly while we mere mortals are stuck to the ground.
For this reason alone they are great photographic subjects. If we do it well, we can capture that grace and the aerodynamic shape of the bird in flight in a spectacular photograph which can take the observers breath away.
To capture birds in flight we must have long focal lengths and fast focus capabilities to make sure to get the subject sharp. This is many times expensive, especially for lower light opportunities, but with the right light, lower priced equipment can be used and will do a good job.
Another trait that lends itself to great photographs of birds is their color and texture. Brightly colored feathers can be very interesting in photos. Make sure to accentuate these colors and textures in your photos to bring the subject to life. Using contrast, and making sure to expose properly will bring out the colors and textures to the highest level.
The EYES. Many bird species can have very interesting eyes and if you are close enough or have a long enough lens, you will be able to capture some stunning photos.
If you get a chance to come out Thursday to the Education Night at First Presbyterian, make sure to bring your camera and tripod. It should be a very interesting night of learning.
My theme for 2019 is fighting the creative funk that can plague photographers, to some degree, many times throughout their photographic career.
These creative funks can be caused by many things.
1. Lack of time and being busy with work, or shooting for paying customer's projects.
2. Doing the same things over and over.
3. The end of the year blah's or even just winter.
I've been identifying with most of these lately and have been trying to find ways to get back on track to making creative and interesting photographs.
I watched a video on You Tube recently, called "13 Creative Exercises for Photographers", which had some great ideas, and I'll embed the link below. There are some really great ideas here, but the one that I really liked was incorporating as many of the 9 elements of photography into your shots as possible.
By incorporating more of these elements, you are making sound fundamental photos and as any sports person knows, the fundamentals are what make you good at anything you do. Baseball players constantly practice the fundamentals of batting, throwing and catching, to continue to grow in their sport.
These 9 Fundamentals are:
There are also 5 other components that make a great photo.
3. Quality of light
5. Negative space
The more of these things you can incorporate into your photos, the better they will be and the more creative you can be in taking and making them.
I will be trying to work these into more of my shots going forward, and break out of the photo funk to move ahead again.
I hope these help.
Up next for the Camera Club is the rescheduled Salon Night which is now Tomorrow, Thursday 1/17/2019 at First Presbyterian in Fargo. The Assigned subject this month was Minimalist.
How many of you have started the New Year in a Photography Funk?
I'm sure it's not just me.
I'm struggling with mediocre shots that aren't up to my standard for what I consider great, but we all know that on average we really only get one or two "great" shots a year no matter what level of photography we are at.
I think like many hobbies and even professions, we need to get back to basics and do something fresh periodically to keep us moving forward.
What I did to break the funk was to try a new type of lighting. I did some research and found out that you can sometimes make an average flash work like a black light, and set up a few shots in my dining room to do some black light photography.
While I was shooting that with my Macro lens on the camera I started playing around with some macro shots of the flower pot in natural light, and got a nice result there as well.
Photography tends to expand to the space that you allow it to fill, so I was able to get some pretty interesting shots.
As with all, photography, it's about light and shadows, and composition, and leading lines, and... you get the picture... (Small Photography Pun).
Hope you are all working through your first of the year photo funks as well and looking forward to seeing your results at the Salons.
A shot of a Peace Plant Flower in Ultra Violet.
Small Cactus in Ultra Violet.
A Macro Shot in Natural Light.
The Holidays are upon us again and the opportunities for photographers abound. Documenting the season can give a photographer many ways to expand their photographic skills, and capture new and different subjects. There are always the family photo's by the fireplace, that we do year after year, but there are also many ways to make unique and different photographic compositions. How about taking photo's of your decorations with a different lens and making them look like a snow globe? How about taking that lens to a location you are visiting and doing some different photo's for the location, then posting them on social media and tagging the location to give them some photo's they can use to promote their event? How about trying to knock a couple of key bucket list items off your list by visiting local attractions and documenting them? How about trying to capture a family member or friend's pet with a holiday theme? These are just some ideas for making this Holiday season a photographic one.
Here's wishing you and yours a wonderful Holiday, however you celebrate it, and a Happy Photographic New Year.
My Tree as a Snow Globe, Taken with my Sony a6500 and a Meike 6.5mm Fisheye Lens.
The Sunken Garden at the Como Zoo and Conservatory with the 6.5mm Fisheye.
A more classic wide angle look at the Sunken Garden. I went their right before closing and was able to capture it without people in the shot.
A shot of the Sunken Gardens with a 90mm Macro lens.
Bucket List shot of the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis.
Another Bucket Lister of Minnehaha Falls in St. Paul.
My Brother In-Law's dog guarding the presents.
Well, another 1st Thursday of the month, and another Salon. This one has the Assigned Subject of "Starts with K". Kangaroo? Kite? Kleenex? Kickbox? Kick, Knuckle, Knobby? Ketchup... These are just a few that you can choose from. How many did you think of? I only got 2 of these and that's all I needed to complete the category, but this was a hard one. I usually have many to choose from in my catalog, but not for this subject. Good luck to all this Thursday and may the best photographs win.
PQ. This blogs Philosophical Question is more of a statement, but it is something I heard on a You Tube video about Storm Photography. The photographer said, "The reason I like photographing storms is that it is capturing a moment in time that no one else will ever see again. If you do it well, you can change someone's view of the world and show them something they may never have seen or will never see again."
I totally agree with this statement, but also will say that you could potentially create an interest in that person which could shape history.
How many people have seen a photograph of an event or place, that then decided to go there and help the people affected? How many times have photographs of a home, sold that home, and great photographs sold it for a higher price? How many times has an actor's amazing head shot photo, got them a role that changed their careers as well as the industry? These and many others are reason's why photography will always be a medium which has importance.
On the news front, there is less happening than the last blog. Very slow for photo news this week other than not posting a photo of your $650 World Series Ticket on Instagram, since someone did, and his seat was stolen.
This weeks tip is to have a reason to shoot. If you are finding it hard to take photos on a regular basis, try doing a special project for a month. Maybe it's shooting with only one lens, or focal length, maybe it's only black and white for a month, maybe it's setting up a small studio with flash/strobes or even some end table lamps and seeing what light does to different subjects. Skrim it, Diffuse it, make it hard and directional and see how it affects a different subject every day. Or better yet, see how many ways you can shoot the same subject with different light or backgrounds. Can you get to 30? If you get some really good shots, share them here. Just make sure they aren't of your 50 yard line Bison Ticket.. :)