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Camera technique Questions and advice on how to improve your picture taking can be posted here. This board is discussion beyons the basics, which are catered for in the 'Help and advice for beginners' board.

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Old 29-02-12
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Lightbulb Photographing Airplanes,

Photographing airplanes, how difficult can it be?
Well judging by the photos here in the galleries, it is difficult for most of us. Unless your an aircraft spotter/ airplane photographer. Someone like me. Photographing airplanes is a complete different ballgame.

Lets take for instance the ISO settings.
Most of us would say a plane is a fast moving object, so the rule in photographing is that you should use fast film. This means that the ISO setting should be at least ISO 200 or higher to freeze the plane's motion. This is wrong according to the spotting photographers. You would use ISO 100 or slower to get sharper images and less grain.
To "freeze" the plane's motion, you will use your settings.

First, let's look at the Aperture settings.
Most of us will use a telezoom lens with a range of 40-150 mm, 50-200mm or 70-300mm. Most in use will be, I guess, the 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 and the 70-300mm 1:4-5.6. So the most used Aperture setting, at least under most weather conditions as a shoot to go setting, would be F6.3. Depending on the weather conditions your shutter speeds will range somewhere between 1/250 to 1/2000 sec. Also you will use as metering device the spot metering option or center metering option to make sure that you measure the light the reflects from the plane.
Then you will set your White Balance to auto. You might want to set your photomodus to vivid.

Second, if you want to use Manual setting.
If you use Manual setting, you have to remind yourself that you have to adjust constantly your shutter speeds and aperture settings to the changing light. So if you have set your camera, for instance, at F7.1 with a shutter speed of 1/350 sec. It is possible that 30 minutes you want to need 1/350 sec at F6.3 or F7.1 at 1/125 sec. So, if you would want to use Shutter speed as main setting only, you need only have to set the S(hutter) mode and set it to the desired speed. Just like you would do with your A(perture) mode.

Another important thing in airplane photographing is panning.
At least in ground to air photographing it is very important to track the plane with your camera (pan). This way you freeze the plane's motion and in most cases the background will be blurred which suggested motion. Especially with slow(wer) shutter speeds or in low light. Also important is to keep your Image Stabilization (IS) off IS will try to compensate the panning and this results also in a blurry photo

One of the most common practices in the aviation spotting community is the way of framing. (see example below)


Reason for this way of framing is that often you will be standing near an airport. In most cases it is forbidden to make photos of the infrastructure of the airport. So you want to try to leave out as much as possible of the infrastructure as possible. A second reason is that you want only the airplane in your photo. Exception of this rule is of course when you are at an airshow and you are making photos of demonstration teams and when planes use smoke.

Best thing is, just go out to your local airfield and practice, practice, practice.

André de Wit
The Netherlands
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Old 29-02-12
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Re: Photographing Airplanes,

A wonderfully sharp photograph which adds weight to all the information you have supplied.
Knowing very little about aviation myself could you say what that pod hanging underneath is?
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Old 29-02-12
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Re: Photographing Airplanes,

Dickie,

That "pod" is the external center line fuel drop tank. It has also 2 wing mounted drop tanks. this configuration was used for long range interception, transit flights and/or long range recon flights. This particular Hunter(actually not this one but a similar plane with the same registration) was once stationed at Leeuwarden Air Base as an interceptor fighter during the cold war in the 1950's.
Below you can read more about the Dutch Hawker hunter Foundation:
http://www.dutchhawkerhunter.nl/#Home
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Re: Photographing Airplanes,

Thanks for that.
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Old 01-03-12
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Re: Photographing Airplanes,

Hard subject to get completely right! Thank god for Lightroom I say!

Some of mine





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Old 01-03-12
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Re: Photographing Airplanes,

Hi Ekkl,
Can you still remember which settings you used for each of these photos? And which lens? Also would like to know where you took those photos and when.
Just curious.
Personally, I would have cropped the Arrows shot a bit more, so that the planes and smoke trails would be more pronounced.
Greetz,
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Old 01-03-12
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Re: Photographing Airplanes,

Hi Andre. The arrows shot was taken at the Easbourne Airshow on the south coast UK. I did a thread here asking what to do with that picture, i.e cropping etc, I will try and link to it if I can find it. I think it was taken with a 70-200 L lens, can't remember to be honest! Might have been a 75-300.

The other two were taken during a quick hour at the end of the runway at Gatwick airport. Again taken with my 70-200 L lens which I was testing out. No idea what setting without looking at the originals exif data. The crop on the Irish Airbus there is not the best at all but I just posted this as it shows how filthy the aeroplane is close up!

Not a spotter by the way, just something I wanted to try out really.
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Re: Photographing Airplanes,

The settings..
f8
1/800
iso 400

buddha, there is neat little free prog available which allows you to view image exif on most images. Just install and it places itself within your right click menu.
You can find the prog Here
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Old 01-03-12
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Re: Photographing Airplanes,



I posted this late last year. Another from the archive - taken on 24th October 2003 on the last day the BA Concorde fleet flew. I took the day off and staked out the end of the runway at Heathrow along with hundreds of others as the planes did their last celebratory flights.

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Old 31-10-12
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Re: Photographing Airplanes,

Some really brilliant pictures here. The Red Arrows used to be based out of Kemble about 10 miles away from my Secondary School. Their practice sessions coincided with ‘Double Maths’ meaning I spent most of the lessons watching them therefore my maths skills are rubbish. Concorde is another matter altogether. My late Father in Law worked on Concorde’s engines in Filton (Bristol). I saw the first flight go over my house when I was a kid and saw the last flight as it flew over Bristol back to Filton.
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