Visual Approach

Radial thunder

December 1, 2012

Centennial Waco

“Long, long ago, photographers used something called film,” says Senior Photographer Mike Fizer. “We loved film. But technology didn’t care and along came the digital camera. I was a fair-weather friend—I fell head over heels for pixels and left my Kodak moments behind. One of my early assignments with this new medium was Al Marsh’s story on the AOPA Sweepstakes Centennial Waco engine rebuild in 2002 (“We Have an Engine!” June 2002 AOPA Pilot). The Jacobs had just been restored by Radial Engines Ltd., so I made arrangements with owner Steve Curry for a sunset shot of the engine on its test stand. I framed the shot, set up the lights, and waited for sunset. Mother Nature did her part, we fired up the Jacobs, and I proceeded to literally blast away. If the engine hadn’t been so loud, we would have heard the mortar-like thwump of the flash going off. The prop arc was created by the slow flash duration (think airport beacon) and a long shutter speed delivered the sunset glow and exhaust plumes. I was ecstatic over being able to see the shot in real time on the Canon D30, and after a little Photoshop massaging, I knew this pixel stuff was going to be just fine.”

Subject: Centennial Waco’s 275-horsepower Jacobs R755-B2

Where: Guthrie, Oklahoma

Photographer: Mike Fizer