KASS 2018

The third year in a row, where I and Stratos shoot at the Airshow, this time at the request of the Baltic bees jet team.

Last year we met with the six pilots at their hotel before the show and did a quick portrait session at a makeshift studio we set up there, This year we went one step further! We joined the team on their way to the airport, Documenting the preparations for the flight as well as shooting portraits of the team and their L-39’s. That’s something I’ve been wanting to do since the first airshow I photographed in Kavala.


On the day of the show I, Stratos and Panagiotis (who was kind enough to shoot backstage video) met at the Galaxy hotel ware the team was staying. There the driver picked us up and off we went to the airport. When we arrived the team started the briefing of the maneuvers they would fly on that day.

We then passed through security and walked out on the airfield ware the Pilots started doing pre-flight checks with their mechanics. As well as wearing their G-suits and Emergency gear.

Luckily the airport staff was very supportive of what we ware doing and gave us quite some space to work!


And a few minutes later they ware ready for takeoff.

Quite impressively the 6 pilots took off in tight groups of 3 fighters at a time.


While waiting for them to return I started setting up for the crew shot and the individual portraits.
The conditions ware actually quite challenging for what I wanted to do. I had nowhere near enough flash power to light the whole scene, especially not with the sun still out. And I also did not have an extra wide lens that I needed to achieve the look I wanted to… So I had to resort to my ingenuity as usual!

To counter the perspective problem I used my Canon 28mm 2.8, shooting vertically from a tripod and creating a panorama out of 4-5 shots, This gave me the “wide lens look” I wanted.


For the exposure I first shot one panorama of the Airplane, using natural light. Then I had the 6 Pilots take a position in front of the L-39. I adjusted my exposure to be a couple of stops below the ambient light and had Stratos move my Canon 580ex ii above and to the right of each pilot, I proceeded by taking 2-3 shots of each pilot individually, each time lighting him with my flash.

In postproduction, I combined the panorama of the background in Lightroom and imported it into Photoshop. Then I started loading the selected image of each pilot into my main file and used photoshops Auto align tool to make them fit the background. From there on it was a question of blending everything together, Adding some parts of interesting sky and removing some distracting elements from the image. And finally some color correction!

Left to right. Artyom Soloduha, Alessandro Scorrano, Valery Sobolev, Anatoly Perekriostov, Aleksandr Zarins, Igor Yudkin


For the individual portraits, it became quite a bit easier since the sun dropped down pretty low, so I popped up my 80×80 softbox and mounted it on my speedlight, I was able to use much lower flash power and therefore move much quicker. I had one pilot after the other move into my frame and try a couple of poses.

In post I only had to remove my softbox from the frame since I had it relatively close to my subjects in order to create some more dramatic light, while also doing some color grading.


To the Baltic Bees for their time.
To Mr. Georgiadis for always supporting our work at the KASS.
And to the airport staff for the access to the runway and their support on location!


Soon there will be another post about some portraits of the Wizard halobatic pilot Dimitris Ververelis!

Thanks for reading!