Showcasing the RAF Cosford greatest asset – individual people via photographic portraits was a genuine treat…
I love visiting new places, but every once in a while there’s almost too much to take in during the first time, so a revisit is needed. With senses overloaded, I had to go back for another photoshoot at RAF Cosford. I knew from the last time that you end up covering vast distances around the jets: just moving lights needs a set of walking boots! For assistance on the day I decided to take a military buff and all round good guy, my old mate from way back, Andy Green – who’s eyeballs were on stalks most of the day!
RAF Cosford…since 1938.
RAF Cosford opened in 1938 as a joint aircraft maintenance, storage and technical training unit. Today, Schools currently stationed there include: No. 1 School of Technical Training, No. 1 Radio School RAF, the excellent Defence School of Photography, Aerosystems Engineering & Management Training School and the RAF School of Physical Training.
Love loud jets then…
The Cosford Air Show is the only air show that is officially by the Royal Air Force in Britain. The event is held on the RAF Cosford airfield, regularly hosts flying and static displays which attract more than 50,000 people and is generally held on the second Sunday in June of each year.
On arrival you are instantly aware of the efficiency of everything, everyone walks with pace and a quiet determination. Within minutes my hands were swinging by my side and I started to stand up with a straight back!
After a quick cup of tea, I was kindly given a full tour of both hangars by Squadron Leader Chris Wilson, looking for the best angles to shoot. Because this is in a working environment, I had to shoot with the least amount of disruption to everyone. “Real people, with real jobs were the order of the day…complete authenticity!”
The first thing you notice is the distinct aroma of engineering oil and then the sheer size of the hangars and the fighter planes. Because they are not outside on a runway, you can get a perspective on them – they are SO MUCH bigger in reality.
All the planes are used for technical training; hydraulic wings, under carriages, fuel tanks, machine guns, air brakes and much more are taken apart, repaired and tested. Within a short space of time many are commissioned back into action.
Some of the shots required the dexterity of a limbo dancer – craning under wings, air brakes and massive jet engines…you wouldn’t believe how many times I hit my head.
A lot of inspiration came from the amazing metal formations shaped into subtle aerodynamics for maximum speed, tear drop shaped lights and .50 cal gun carriages just melted into the plane fuselage. Sun light streaming in from the huge hanger windows added a ripple effect.
The idea was to create a series of portraits that the RAF can use as promotional material which shows the relationship of the jets with the highly skilled technicians on the base. However the sheer size of a plane against a human makes it impossible to see expressions. Placing a person near selected parts of a plane created a much more interesting interaction. You also remove the hassle of oil drip trays and other planes in the background sneaking into the shot.
They couldn’t be more helpful…
The technical knowledge was, as you can imagine, vast. Within a few moments a whole nose cone from a fighter jet was swung to one side revealing the super sensitive radar equipment. He told me that planes are designed from the inside out or in other words all the technical ‘stuff’ is created and then wrapped up in the body.
All images shot on 24 -70mm, f8 @125th sec.
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