The Lakes

Making a mess of shooting military stuff... | 27/3/2022

Markie and I had a look over to Thirlmere this week (22 March), in the hope of getting onto some military aircraft coming low across the lake.

The attempt didn't start well.

We'd planned to shoot from a vantage point called Raven Crag near Smaithwaite, but the road to that part of the lakeside was closed from every direction, meaning that we had to improvise. Markie had invited another pal along, and he was both partially sighted and (by his own admission) pretty out of shape, so the obvious alternative - Dunmail Raise - was ruled out:  by all accounts mountain goats are reluctant to tackle the height and steepness of that viewpoint.

So improvise we did. We ended up at a random spot half way up on the western side of Thirlmere, not (as far as we know) recognised as an "official" spot at all. It was fine - if a bit steep (it was positively iffy just standing up) - but we managed well enough.

Which is more than can be said about me and the R5...

Not the camera's fault, I just had it (and the lens, my 100-400mm Mk II plus 1.4x TC) set up up all wrong - even though I'd gone to great pains in the run-up to the trip, to configure it with new stuff, like assigning buttons to allow me to toggle between 1/1000 and 1/100 shutter speeds at the press of a single button; and to access the camera's 1.6x crop mode in two button presses, should I need the "reach".

Both of these worked brilliantly, incidentally - I love the customisability of the R5.

Getting back to the problems: using the mechanical shutter meant that I was getting some viewfinder lag - not a problem most of the time, but when shooting stuff going by at hundreds of miles per hour... And although I was set up to shoot 12 frames per second (which would have gone a long way to addressing the lag), I was only getting 6 fps.

Turns out that the camera is very sensitive to the batteries in use, and by pure fluke I was using an older Canon battery and an off-brand one: they could drive the camera well enough for the most part, but not at 12 frames per second.

(The manual does explain this, and at least I know now why the "H+" symbol in the viewfinder was white and flashing, instead of being green and solid...)

Not to worry, lesson learned. I've bought an extra LP-E6NH, and as it turns out (after a lot of testing) another of my older Canon batteries and a couple of off-brand ones can drive the camera at full tilt, so I've marked them up and put them at the top of my pile of spare batteries.

6 fps will still be fine for most of my shooting, should I find myself stuck - although with five batteries that do 12 fps, it shouldn't happen. And I've reverted to Electronic First Curtain Shutter (EFCS), which helps with lag too.

As to the lens - schoolboy error. I'd forgot to set the stabilisation to "panning" mode, which does make a difference.

Despite everything, the kit looked after me pretty well: judging from the back of the camera I expected nothing but disappointment, but in fact some of the images were - if not brilliant - good enough to see the light of day. Which is more than can be said for the light on the day - these were a real struggle to edit, too.

(Another forgotten lesson - remember to pick a Picture Style with plenty of sharpening. Even though I don't use DPP, the Picture Style affects how the files look on the camera LCD, and I want to see them sharpened...)

 Not much actually came through on the day - the next valley over got an A400, which I was gagging to shoot - and I was busy away from my camera helping out Mark's visually impaired friend when the F-15s went through...


But Hawks, a Typhoon and an Apache helicopter made the day worthwhile.

Apache, Thirlmere

Hawk, Thirlmere

Hawk, Thirlmere

Apache, Thirlmere

Apache, Thirlmere

Typhoon, Thirlmere

Apache, Thirlmere

Categories: Trips

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