Aviation, aerial and air-to-air, Justin de Reuck is a born and bred Capetonian who captures thrilling moments in the sky. Although he has travelled extensively throughout his life, he has always called CPT home. Quite the outdoors kind-a-guy, he enjoys keeping fit, trail running, cycling and hiking with his wife Marilee and his three kids, Leah, Joel and Emily.
Back to photography
At the age of 12, Justin started experimenting with photography, shooting 35mm film and even built his own dark room for black-and-white processing, stating that “Back in the day, photographers didn’t earn a decent living and spent a fortune on film and processing”. So he decided that he had better get “some sort” of post-matric education. He went onto Electrical Engineering, qualified as a Construction and Installation Electrician and sadly, photography took a backseat. In 2003, with the dawning of the digital age, Justin realised that it was time to get back to his real passion – photography. He quotes, “Passion is easy to fake but impossible to hide”.
A memorable moment
In his career as photographer, Justin describes his most memorable moment was when he had the opportunity to fly with the Silver Falcons. In case you didn’t know, the Silver Falcons is South Africa’s Airforce aerobatic display team. Just imagine yourself strapped in the back ejection seat of a PC-7 (a low-wing tandem-seat training aircraft) in tight formation, doing acrobatics! To top it off, he was present to witness a ramp shoot out of a Lockheed C-130, more commonly known as a Hercules. (A ramp shoot is when, during flight, they lower the cargo ramp at the rear end of the aircraft at which time the photographer goes and sits on the ramp and to take photos.)
Top 5 photography tips
Justin share’s his top 5 photography tips to nail that air-to-air shot:
1. Shutter Speed
It needs to be slow enough to capture enough movement on the propeller or rotors. Speeds will vary from 1/125sec to 1/50sec depending on the subject.
Even though you’re in the air, choosing your background carefully can make or break a good aerial image.
The horizon must be level, however this is not always easy as the cameraship often mkaes in tight aerobatic turns which may not even be the right way up. But no matter what, the horizon must be level.
This might be obvious to some, but during an air-to-air shoot, the light is constantly changing; not only on your subject, but on the background too. You need to be aware of both and shoot according to the mood that you’re trying to create.
A good photograph should always evoke emotion. “When people look at one of my images and ask how I managed to shoot that, I know that I’ve achieved a huge part of the success of the image.”
Justin’s suggested gear list
- Canon EOS 1Dx
- Canon EOS 1D Mk IV
- Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM
- Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro
- Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0 L USM
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
- Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM
- Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM
- Canon 1.4x Converter III
- Elinchrom Range Quadra
- 3x Canon 580 EX II Speedlights
- 1x Elinchrom Skyport
- 2x Pocket Wizard TT5 Flex
- 1x Pocket Wizard TT1 Mini
Suggestions for beginners at an Air Show
Justin says that when shooting at Air Shows, it is better to use a long lens to ensure you get a great shot. If you’re on a budget, he suggests a 75-300mm, but if you can afford something like the 100-400mm, it would be an even better choice. (Luckily our clients have the option of renting lenses!)
With this genre of photography, post is simple. Think cropping, sharpening, colour management and the usual exposure sliders. Nothing fancy. If need be, you can clone distracting objects in the background. That’s pretty much it.
A helping hand
You might not know, but Justin still owns and manages an Electronic Contracting company, which keeps him quite busy when he’s not out shooting. He is also quite involved in his local church and often uses his photography and electrical skills to help out with community projects. If Justin had one dream come true, it would be to go along on a mission to the International Space Station as the OFFICIAL photographer!
There you have it, Justin de Reuck. Talented aerial photographer and all-round good guy!