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Urban Safari : Spotting the Blue Angels

Fly-by on Castle Island

Boston was treated to a Blue Angels fly-by on Tuesday. We debated over where in the city we should set up our photo gear, and decided that Castle Island in South Boston would give us the best chance to get some closeups.


Castle Island turned out to be an excellent choice (thanks to our contributing editor and Boston native Carolyn Donovan). The F/A-18 Hornet Delta formation of six jets came in from the east side of Boston Harbor exactly at noon and show lasted for 30 minutes. The trailing seventh jet was the in-flight photographer’s…


Did we mentioned that the Blue Angels flew right over our heads…four times??? The first time was so fast we barely had a chance to get off a shot. They were just specks in the distance and all of a sudden they were right on top of us. What we found most surprising was not how loud they were when they were overhead, but how quiet they were on the approach!!!

When they turned and came around for the second pass, we were ready! When we say “ready,” we meant we remembered we had an 18-300mm Nikkor zoom lens with us and that we could get in pretty close 🙂 So much so that we almost got a clear shot of the pilot!!!


While the Nikkor 18-300mm zoom has vibration reduction, it is still hard to get a sharp image. We were able to get this close shooting with the Nikkor 18-300mm because we had brought along a rock solid tripod and the Vanguard GH-300T Pistal Grip Ball Head. The ball head has an integrated shutter release which enabled us to reposition the camera as well as shoot, all in the same motion. We will have a complete FirstLook/FirstUse writeup about it soon, but the short version is…it’s a winner!


Of course, while good gear is nice to have, they don’t take the place of a “good eye,” great instincts, and perfect timing. A case in point is this photo by Carolyn, taken with an iPhone 4S, of the Blue Angels flying over the South Boston Korean War Memorial, listing the names of the 20 local guys who lost their lives during the conflict.


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