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Lancaster Bomber

Interview with John Madden 
led by Senior Critic Andreas Agazzi 
Published the 12th of May 2020

Running once a year, for the last number of years is this very unique Aviation event that is nothing short of truly spectacular. An evening for you to travel back in time,

Timeline Events organise this event of photography at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre. The museum is located on the original Royal Air Force site of East Kirby which was the squadron base HQ for the Lancaster bombers.

This is a very unique opportunity to photograph the famous Avro Lancaster Bomber with war period re-enactors up close and personal.


Canon 1D X Mark II · Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L · f/7.1

The Lancaster “Just Jane” is currently not airworthy but does carry out taxing and engine runs of all four of its Rolls Royce Merlin engines that makes for a very special and authentic evening hearing the growl of the Merlin engines running is simply spectacular to any aviation enthusiast.

There is plenty of opportunities for photographers throughout the evening.

Unfortunately “Just Jane” will soon be out of action for some time as it will be undergoing a full engineering overhaul and hopefully soon in the near future she will be airworthy again. Money from the event’s go toward this costly restoration project.

It was an extremely cold November in 2017 and I flew from Dublin, Ireland to East Midlands UK where I hired a car and made my way to RAF Coningsby to catch some military aircraft in action including the Eurofighter Typhoons, I then made my way to the Battle of Britain memorial flight visitor centre which I would strongly recommend to any aviation enthusiast to make the visit and if you’re lucky enough you may even get to see some of these beauty’s  pre-season testing and practicing for the upcoming Aviation shows. After this it was back on the road and now off to Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirby for an evening with the Lancaster Bomber ‘Just Jane’ NX611

The event didn’t start till 5pm but I got there early around 4pm to have a good look around the East Kirby base in daylight and soak up some of its famous history,

Each of the Rolls Royce Merlin engines are started up individually on the evening and this is truly a unique experience. The smell of aviation fuel through the air and the Merlin engines spitting fire as each engine growls upon ignition.

There are two engine runs throughout the evening and they last roughly 10 minutes, Photographers can move around freely and all respectful of each other compositions and tripods. After the engine runs the re-enactors take different positions for photographers to take images.

Lancaster Bomber
The scene was set, the re-enactors were nothing less than spectacular considering it was absolutely freezing and they listened to any requests made. The rear of the Lancaster was back lit with the smoke machines running to create that dramatic effect. I was trying to capture and portray what it may have truly looked like before these brave men went and carried out missions, for some their lives ended pre maturely.

My Canon 1D Mark II was mounted on my tripod with my 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II USM. Focal point was set at 70mm.I try to take all my images with the lowest possible ISO setting as possible to eliminate noise and grain. In this case my settings were at ISO 500,

My aperture was f/7.1 and my shutter speed set at 6 secs so it was very important for the re-enactors not to move and stay still. The shutter speed also let the fog haze from the smoke machines and flow through the image nicely.

The image was quite hard to execute as one side of image is close to been over exposed and the other side nearly fully under exposed very similar of a Silhouette.

I processed in Adobe camera raw and Adobe Photoshop CC 2017
Upon importing to Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 - In camera raw I adjusted my levels and basic minute adjustments to correct my levels.

In Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 the first adjustment layer I added is the curves layer where I over and under expose the image zooming right in looking for any dust spots that I would the remove with the spot healing brush on the original layer . I then delete this curves layer.

I then tidied up the image and removed some distracting stones and sods of grass that were present in the foreground with the spot healing brush.

Next I made another copy layer and opened the new layer with Nik Colour Efex Pro where I used the Pro Contrast filter for further adjustments. Saved and flatten layers.

I then made another copy layer where I entered Nik Colour Efex Pro again and used the Darken/Lighten centre filter and made minute adjustments. Saved and flatten layers.

Another new copy layer with some  dodging and burning. Flatten layer.

Next I wanted to create the cinematic look and added numerous Look Up Tables till I got the desired effect and flattened layer.

Another copy layer and then opened the new layer with Adobe Camera Raw filter again for the final adjustments with levels and then also fine-tuned sharpness with a mask. Flattened layers

Slightly cropped and straightened,


* Prepare for all weather. On this occasion it was an extremely cold November night.
* Have extra batteries, If the temperature is low and its cold your batteries life will be shorter.
* Shoot with the lowest possible ISO you can as the conditions are very challenging and you will be trying
  to eliminate any noise within your images before you get to post processing.
* Always shoot  RAW format. It provides the largest file and the most flexibility when post-processing
  the image.
* You will need a tripod and a trigger to prevent camera shake.


I’m from the Republic of Ireland and my preferred areas of photography are Motorsports, Aviation, Macro and Landscapes. I have a love for all genres of photography and I push myself to try and execute the areas I challenge myself in,  But there’s nothing more rewarding than been lucky enough to combine any of your other passions and photography together.

My full-time job is within the Fire service and I try to work out which events I will be attending at the start of the calendar year and work around my roster and annual leave. I usually attend two World Rally events each year and was also lucky to have photographed the Rally Dakar last year in Peru. I would also attend air shows both in the Republic of Ireland and the UK and was fortunate to travel to North Korea in 2016 for their first and only every air show in Wonsan to catch some of these old Soviet war birds flying.

I was introduced to 1x by a fellow photographer Richie Hatch from my local camera club. The primary reason I joined up was to network with fellow photographers, get inspiration and to appreciate the finest quality of works been published each day.

My Equipment:
Canon EOS – 1D X Mark II
Canon EOS- 1D Mark III
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 IS II USM
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x
Canon EF 100mm 1:2.8L IS USM
Canon EF 14mm f/2.8 L II USM
5 x Canon 600EX-RT and transmitter
Manfrotto Tripod
Bowen studio light with travel battery packs

Post Processing:
Adobe Photoshop 2020
Nik Collection plugin
Topaz Studios plugin


super lıke ıt great light
Excellent photo!
Thanks, Ralf ;-)
Much appreciated Ralf and Yvette ,Thanks again
Thank you for the awesome work and very interesting interview, John and Andreas. A great article. Best regards. Last, but not least, thank you dear Yvette! Have a happy evening. :)
Thanks for your appreciation, Francesco! All honour goes to John Madden and Andreas Agazzi who helped a lot to realize this article.
You are welcome, Yvette! :)