With a love for flying and planes from an early age, Gavin Conroy started flying at the age of 16yrs, he went on to achieve his own commercial pilots licence. He always liked Air to Air photographs and got into the style of photography around 2004. The editor of Classic Wings magazine at the time, Graham Orphan, mentioned his ground based photos from the Warbirds over Wanaka airshow were pretty good, and that maybe he should consider getting in to photography seriously. The rest is history, Gavin went on to develop his Air to Air photography skills, over coming the challenges it presents and now travels all round NZ to shoot air-crafts in flight.
Where are you based?
How long have you been a photographer?
Tell us a little about your style of photography.
I mainly specialise in Air To Air photography, it involves photographing one airborne aircraft from another which is in close formation. This is often a challenging environment but very rewarding when everything comes together. I enjoy photographing fast moving aircraft at air shows around New Zealand and also like to get nice nature shots when I am able to.
What gear do you use?
I have always used Canon, and I'm currently using a 1DmkIV, and 7D camera bodies. I have the following lenses, 10-22, 24-105L, 70-300 DO IS, and a 100-400L IS.
What is/has been your greatest challenge as a photographer?
Taking a nice clear photo of an aircraft in flight, with the canopy or door removed. It is windy and very noisy so the potential for camera shake is always there, especially when using slow shutter speeds. Photographing aerobatic teams in formation is a real challenge as one often has to battle with upwards of four times the force of gravity making everything quite heavy, but very manageable with a lot of practice.
What has been your most memorable assignment and why?
Publishing a book called Precious Metal. It has just been released and covers the WW2 fighters I have photographed Air to Air. It has been published by Craig Potton and was a lot of work but a very rewarding experience and a huge team effort. In terms of photo shoots their have been many but photographing the RNZAF Red Checkers in mirror formation is right up there in terms of a challenge. We were inverted while another aircraft flew up to meet us in very close formation. The negative G force made things very challenging but we got a good shot. Flying with WW1 and WW2 fighters is also very rewarding.
If not a photographer, where would you see yourself?
Interesting question, it would have something to do with Planes, but I consider photography to be the one thing I enjoy most.
If the chance arose, who or what would you most like to photograph?
The US Navy flight demonstration team, The Blue Angels.
What tips or advice do you have for budding photographers?
Practice, practice, and practice. Often people don't work out how to get the best from their camera/lens early enough. It is one area that cannot be rushed. Have good relationships with those you work alongside, choose your own style and use that to your own advantage. A photographer is unlikely to ever be able to satisfy everyone but use your strengths to produce memorable photos.
Has the advent of digital been beneficial or detrimental to professional photographers?
It has been beneficial, changing film in flight was something I have never had to do but would dread it if I had to! On the other hand too much 'photo-shopping' of images can ruin them, at least with film that was a lot more difficult.
Can you see clients moving from stills to video, with the advent of HD video capabilities in digital SLRs?
Not really, the people I work with normally want the photos, as that is my strong point. Video is a good thing, it is nice to sometimes record memories that way.
Are you a fan of using a flash in photography?
I don't use flashes very much with the photography I conduct but enjoy experimenting with flash units when the opportunities arrive.
What meal would you cook to impress somebody?
Probably Chinese but keep it simple.
What do you do to get away from the grind/to de-stress when things get too hectic?
Get out on my road going bicycle or go flying but leave the camera at home. A nice quiet place is also helpful.
Visit Gavin's webpage here