Photographer Dylan Van Graan: ‘I’ve loved aircraft all my life’

You can almost hear the thunderous roar of aircraft emanating from the exhilarating, mid-action shots captured by photographer and life-long aviation enthusiast Dylan Van Graan.

We discovered Dylan as part of our ‘100 Days. 100 Commissions.’ initiative and were blown away by his breathtaking aviation photos. Here he speaks to us post-commission about how he got started in photography, his approach to photographing airshows and reveals some top tips for budding aviation photographers along the way.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into photography.

From a day job point of view, I’m in the medical diagnostics field, involved in the commercial side of life. I’ve been working in the industry all my professional life and after my studies, I started out as a laboratory scientist and moved on as time progressed, first as a service engineer and then as an application specialist working for large IVD manufacturers.

Quite a long story but in short I’ve been interested in photography since I was a kid. The bug really bit when I started rock/ice climbing after leaving school and I acquired an old Canon AV1 camera and a 50mm lens that were at that time, older than I was! Since then, my photography ebbed and waned with interests ranging from owning a darkroom to not taking any photos for months on end. Some years ago photography developed into more than a simple past time and here we are.

What photography gear do you use?

I’ve been a Canon guy for as long as I can remember and for some time I’ve been shooting on an EOS 70D body with their EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L (push/pull) for my action work.

As an avid hiker, the Canon setup tends to be a bit heavy and as soon as the Fuji X-T10 arrived I invested in Fuji for mainly my landscape, city and astro work. I do have a variety of other Canon lenses and will often switch between the two systems when shooting at home or when I don’t need to carry it all up a mountain with me.

How did you go about learning photography techniques?

I’m mainly self-taught. I started my journey in photography at a time before info was readily available on the net so most of my foundational knowledge came from reading books. These days I will spend a lot of time online looking at reviews for equipment and learning about advanced photography/editing techniques. E-books and webinars are firm favourites.

Airplanes are the main focus in many of your photographs. Where does your passion for aviation originate?

I’ve loved aircraft all my life and still vividly remember my first visit to a local airshow with my dad. We also accompanied him to the airfield at a time when he was a radio control aviator and these experiences cemented my interest in aviation.

Now we live close to what is likely the oldest operational military air-force base in the world, which also happens to be the home of the South African Air-Force Museum. As part of the museum’s activities, they host a fly-day on the first Saturday of every month (Pre-COVID) during which they display various airworthy examples of aircraft in their collection. I happened to visit the museum one day with my camera in hand and

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