Lake Ontario Sunset

“Thunder and Lightning”

   Plane & Pilot 2021 Your Flying World Photo Contest - 2nd Place

   The Thunder Over Michigan airshow, held every summer at the Willow Run airport, provides tremendous photographic opportunities for vintage and state-of-the-art aircraft. As usual, August 8th turned out to be one of the hottest days of the summer; the cloudy sky and high humidity was great for capturing contrails off the aircraft in flight. This was the first time I had viewed the USAF F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter in operation. The image was captured handheld using a Canon EOS R5 with the Canon EF 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens set at 400mm. I used manual camera settings of 1/2500sec and ƒ/7.1 to capture the aircraft at high speed and used ISO 400 to obtain proper exposure.

   The F-35A emerged from a cloud bank out of a steep turn, passing left to right an estimated 1,800 feet in front of the airshow crowd. The continuous autofocus mode of the R5 camera allowed me to establish focus as it emerged from the clouds and hold it for several shots as as the F-35A passed. The roar of the Lightning II as it passed the crowds was akin to thunder from the clouds; hence the title “Thunder and Lightning.”  I was pleased by the contrails present along the wings and fuselage, and the darkened clouds directly behind and beneath the jet exhaust providing a nice contrast to the relatively grey flat sky. It really gives a feeling for the speed of the F-35A as it passed.

Terrance Alexander

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Some favorite images from prior years

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