How it was photographed – Red Arrows.

This is the first of our ‘how it was photographed’ blog posts. I often get asked to explain how I went about taking a particular image, so here is one of my favourites.

Red Arrows GYPO split
Red Arrows GYPO split
Camera: Canon 1ds mk.II
Lens: Canon 500mm f4Lis
Aperture: f5.6
Shutter speed: 1/2000sec
ISO: 200


  • Where was this taken?
    I was working at the Dunsfold ‘Wings and Wheels’ display in Surrey. This is where the BBC Top Gear show is based now, and where some of the building of ther BAE Hawk and Harrier has taken place in the past.
  • How was your camera set up?
    I was using a camera that was not known for it’s speed, so setting it up consisted of setting it on manual exposure so that the meter would not be fooled into altering the exposure settings.
    Auto focus was switched off. As the aircraft were a long way away the lens was set so that the far end of the hyperfocal distance was at infinity for that aperture of f5.6. The shutter speed was set to 1/2000sec to ensure that the action was frozen.
  • Did you use any camera support?
    A Manfrotto monopod and Manfrotto MN393 long lens gimbal head was used to take the weight of the camera and lens, yet still allowing a good amount of freedom of movement.
  • Did you use the ‘motordrive’?
    This camera was set on 4 frames per second, so I had only one chance of capturing that moment. If I had just relied on the motordrive, I would have been very lucky to get the shot.
    I squeezed off the one shot just as I saw the aircraft start to cross each other, by the time the camera had lifted the mirror and opened the shutter, the aircraft were in this position.



The image has been a good seller from the image stock agencies where it has been placed, and I’m sure it will continue to earn it’s keep for many years to come.

I have entered it in club competitions where it will, more often than not, score really well. Frustratingly though, a couple of judges have assumed that it was a composite image put together in photoshop!

If you have any other questions about the image, please feel free to comment below.


Graham Taylor

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