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I was in the San Diego this past weekend, when some friends and I decided to visit the very popular, and very free MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) Miramar Air Show. It was the least amount of time I have ever spent at an airshow, but I was able to practice shooting high speed targets with some success, as you will see from the photos below. Since our time was so brief at the airshow, it might be the first one that did not get ruined with me being sunburned upon the conclusion of the weekend.

The three of us had intended to spend much more time at the airshow, but we got stuck in the world famous Southern California traffic for about two hours when a pickup truck hauling metal stairs, lost their load on the trailer and the ensuing carnage blocked three of the four available lanes on the freeway. Fortunately for the truck owner it did not look like there were any casualties, besides the stairs and the road’s surface.

The reason for the traffic jam (shot with my iPhone).

Since we missed the majority of the airshow by the time we arrived at Miramar, we found parking as quickly as we could, then hightailed it to the gates to enter the event grounds. As we entered and began to walk around, the U.S. Navy, Blue Angels began their show. We watched in awe at their performance, and wowed like little kids when they did their high speed passes that seemed within arm’s reach of the grandstands.


If you have the opportunity to shoot an airshow and would like to get some fantastic photos, one tip I strongly recommend would be to go two days (provided the airshow is multiple days). Scouting the location can give you ideas for unique foreground opportunities (like the flag in the above picture), but more importantly it can get you familiar with the performance team’s routine. If you know what formation is coming up next, you can be ready for the shot you have in your mind and can make it a reality. I would have liked more time to learn the Blue Angels’ choreography, but all in all, I had a fun time trying to capture them with my camera.

The gear I used to shoot the airshow was my Nikon D7200 body with a Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3 lens. I handheld the camera without a tripod or monopod which gave me the flexibility I needed to twist and maneuver my body quickly and effectively when the action was coming from all angles. It was a good first experience for me taking pictures at an airshow and I am looking forward to more opportunities to shoot high speed action photographs.