Mark Sutherland travelled to the foothills of the Tatra Mountains in Southern Poland to joing COAP’s second Assignment, shooting the awesome Mi-24 ‘Hinds’ and the rare Mi-2 ‘Hoplites’ on deployment for a mountain flight training exercise
…So there we were at Aeroklub Nowy Targ to be confronted by a menacing line up of Mi-24 ‘Hind’ battlefield attack helicopters, peppered by five examples of the ultra rare Mi-2 ‘Hoplite’. It was analogous to a situation of British Army Apache attack helicopters turning up en-masse at Rendcomb or Popham! What a sight. Just to add some spice I seriously doubt that this sleepy Aeroklub had been visited by a group of foreign photographers before, a fact that caused some curiosity amongst the locals.
Now, I’m an ex-alumni of the Aviation Photo Club (run in the mid-2000s by the guys behind COAP), so I know that food and sleep is for wimps and that we are going to maximise every single photographic opportunity that exists… and that we won’t stop simply because the sun has gone down and that was the case here on this deployment. Over the next three days we photographed the aircraft from every angle, every position and every light source (including being just 5m from a hovering Mil-24).
To be fair we did actually eat and sleep we just didn’t dwell on either too long! Seriously, any aviation photographer knows that access is the bane of our lives. Words like ‘excellent’ don’t really do justice to the access we had on this Assignment. This is where Rich’s experience comes in as an aviation journalist and photographer. That’s in effect what you become during and Assignment – you’re not simply photographing the aircraft you’re telling the story, in this case of the exercise, through images.
Now needless to say that comes with responsibilities, you’ve got to conduct yourself professionally, you could even describe it as hard work! That is something I’ve never experienced on another tour. I make no apologies in saying I constantly watch what Rich is doing in relation to utilising different photographic angles and techniques… I have been asked to include a number of my images for this blog entry and they include a silhouette shot and an image utilising painting with light, both of which I would never have considered if I had been doing this on my own.
We also got a ‘Masterclass’ from our Polish liaison Bartek Bera. Using his specialist knowledge, Bartek was able to give us a unique insight photographing helicopters air-to-air. Now, I have actually have done air-to-air with helicopters (though it was a long time ago) and I realise I now have to forget everything I thought I knew! A fascinating evening. Furthermore, as an unexpected bonus, we were able to attend an exhibition of the work of ‘Hesja’, whom I know will be familiar to many of you. It was fascinating to get an albeit limited glimpse into his image editing and to be able to see his work in print form rather than simply on the internet.
I been asked to include a number of my images for this blog which I have happily done. Some may look at them and say I could have done better than that and you may be probably right, but I think it was Woody Allen that said 90% of life is showing up… I showed up, now ask yourself why you didn’t and of course you know what you can do about it! See you at the next COAP event.
“…Any aviation photographer knows that access is the bane of our lives. Words like ‘excellent’ don’t really do justice to the access we had on this Assignment. This is where Rich’s experience comes in as an aviation journalist and photographer. That’s in effect what you become during and Assignment – you’re not simply photographing the aircraft you’re telling the story, in this case of the exercise, through images.”
NAME: Mark Sutherland
EXPERIENCE: 25 years