This past Saturday I attended my second Denton Air Show performance, the first coming in 2011. My intentions this time was to only stay long enough to photograph the planes parked for viewing as my video and photo shots from two years ago did not go so well. After walking around for about an hour enjoying the weather and photographing as much as possible of each plane I was approached by a man who said I appeared to be an experienced amateur photographer. Right away I liked him, appreciating the compliment! He proceeded to tell me that he was part of a group that was attempting to create and expand an aviation photography group. He stated they had a one of the covered canopy's along the front line of the show area and were only asking for a $10 donation to help cover costs. We talked a bit while he told me about the various planes we were looking at as he knew all the pilots there. I thanked him and went on my way shooting more images. After thinking it over for about 10 minutes I heard that voice of my wife's in my head telling me to do it! So I did and I am so glad I did. I spent the next 4 hours or so with about 15 other like minded men (and one woman) firing away as the air show went on. I ended up shooting about 800 frames from which maybe two dozen are worth keeping but that is how it goes. One of the gentlemen there who had two high end cameras mentioned that 3/4 of the shots can be expected to be discarded so I don't feel too bad about how many I will be deleting. This image is one my favorites I shot from the day.
Last weekend I was at the park for some casual bird photography. I have a couple of small ball heads that I use on my monopod due to their light weight but each has its own drawbacks. For straight line images a monopod by itself is great however when trying to photograph birds at steep angles the ability to tilt the camera up is mandatory for sharp shots. Once again Amazon comes to the rescue with this small inexpensive pistol grip ball head. The manufacturer rates it to hold 6.6lbs and while I have not yet tested that much weight it did hold my camera and heaviest lens without any problems (about 2 lbs). Because I do so much walk-around photography at the park and John F. Burke Nature Preserve (among many destinations) I really believe this is going to come in very handy. Also, I discovered carrying the camera/monopod combination by the handle of the ball head seems to put less stress on the camera than carrying the combination by the camera. Only time will tell but this is a good way to see if this is something I would want for the long term without spending too much money.