Well we’re already well in to 2015 and I’m incredibly keen for summer to come around, so far 2015 seems to have been a bit of a slow burner. I haven’t taken many shots and unfortunately I haven’t had too many opportunities to use some new kit that I purchased and was kindly given over winter. After hardly using my GoPro Hero 3 white last year due to the lack of shooting options I decided to upgrade to the new GoPro Hero 4 black, what a difference. I’d like to do another end of year video for 2015, which was my main reasoning behind upgrading to the Hero 4, that and the 720p at 240fps sounds crazy – which it is! 

My Nikon D7100 with a Tokina 11-16mm F2.8 lens attached, with the TriggerTrap mobile remote kit and phonetrap securing my iPhone 5.

My Nikon D7100 with a Tokina 11-16mm F2.8 lens attached, with the TriggerTrap mobile remote kit and phonetrap securing my iPhone 5.

The kind guys over at TriggerTrap got in touch last year as well to see if I would be interested in using their Mobile Remote Kit, until then I hadn’t actually heard anything about them. A few exchanged emails later and I had a couple of the kits arrive, although sadly not in time for Hot Blade.
Anyway, if you’re unfamiliar with the TriggerTrap Mobile Remote Kit let me introduce you… It plugs into your camera as any normal remote would, that cable is then connected to the mobile dongle, which in turn is plugged into the microphone jack on your smartphone. To then turn your smartphone in to a mobile remote you need to download the free TriggerTrap app, once downloaded open it up and you have a fully functioning remote in the shape of a smartphone. From a simple cable release to time-lapse to bramping and sensor modes. It really is such a fantastic bit of kit, the only problem I’ve encountered is really no fault of the app and its more a reflection of how useless the battery is on my iPhone 5. When shooting at night I have noticed my battery gets drained pretty quickly, however in the cold my battery always depletes quickly and have I mentioned how awful the battery is anyway?! I’m hoping I get to utilize this more towards aviation over this year. 

The aurora borealis over Barmouth, Wales, fired using the TriggerTrap mobile remote kit. 

Another new purchase for me was the Samyang 8mm fisheye, I’d seen a lot of good shots from photographers appearing online taken with this lens, for a lot of my flying work I had used a loaned Nikkor 10.5mm fisheye from a good friend. A fantastically good lens for cockpit shots and interior shots when the side door is open on the helicopters, unfortunately I couldn’t justify the extra cost of the Nikon over the Samyang, even with the latter having no autofocus. First thoughts on the lens is everything I had hoped for, although I haven’t really had chance to use it properly for the shots I have in mind, yet. Its pin sharp when stopped down, there is some slight chromatic abrasion and it can occasionally lose sharpness towards the bottom left hand side – I’ll be keeping an eye on that to see if it really is an issue or its just my iffy focusing. 

Royal Navy Sea King pilot and observer in the Chrisite Matrix StIM simulator at RNAS Culdrose. Taken with the Samyang 8mm fisheye.

I’ve recently been approached by Rich Cooper regarding his new venture COAP (centre of aviation photography) a new initiative to bring workshops, seminars and assignments to aviation photographers. Rich has asked me to talk about my experience photographing helicopters at one of the seminiars on the 30th May, mine will be titled “BLURRED BLADES: The Art of Helo Photography” I’m incredibly nervous about it but I feel like it’s a new challenge and I hope I can pass on some of the techniques and information with regards to how I capture some of my images.

Just a quick update for now, within the next week I'll have another blog post up about what I've been shooting since the start of the year.