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Powercube
Nov 23, 2006

I don't like that dude... I don't like THAT DUDE!

So, you finally can’t get any nerdier

Cube’s guide to not sucking at aviation photography

Disclaimer: I’m not a screener at A.net, but I know enough of them and have enough photos on there that I think my advice is probably valid.

Disclaimer II: If you just want to take photos of planes and post them on threads/show them to friends and family and not on the spergy sites- I guess you can keep reading, but those people appreciate creativity more! Then again, often I find people who use that excuse with aviation photography just took terrible photos and have huge egos, so please tread carefully there!

Body
Use whatever the gently caress you want, as long as it is not horrible at rendering blues or otherwise noisy at low ISO. No, seriously, if you are a good enough editor you can get shots on taken with an iPhone (4 or higher, please).

If you’re serious about photography, though- I would use an SLR of some sort. I’m hesitant to recommend Micro 4/3 cameras, as I have no experience with how well they autofocus. I want to get one, but I really have no reason to blow that kind of money for reviewing poo poo on the Internet.

Canon or Nikon? I don’t care, the Canon “go to” lens for spotters is soft as gently caress at the long end and kind of obsolete, but they’ll have to update it eventually. If it matters, I use Nikon, but that’s just because I’m pretty much stuck with them due to glass investment.

Crop or full frame? Whatever you have in terms of bodies already is probably perfect. I shoot full frame unless I am at an airshow, and even then my D300 is showing its age pretty bad. Don't go out of your way chasing APS-C, most of the time an extra 1.5x reach wont make a difference. This ain't birding, planes don't get scared!

The caliber of autofocus on the body is only important if you plan to be doing a lot of airshow photography. A 737 on approach travels at a very specific speed and direction- as long as the focus locks once, you should be good for the run of shots.

Lenses
When I am going on a longer shoot, like an airshow, I will not leave my office without at least three basic (usually four) lens types.

Wide: Usually around 10mm at the wide end to a max of about 24mm at the “tele” end. This lens is not a prerequisite; it’s a “nice to have”

154162 by Powercube, on Flickr
A general “walkaround” lens: Usually something like a 24-70 or 24-105 depending on your camera body brand and price range.

C-FTAP by Powercube, on Flickr
A “short telephoto”: For example a 70-200.

PK-GIE by Powercube, on Flickr

A super telephoto: Okay, maybe not this one- but when necessary I bust out my 500 and monopod! For places where I cannot manage to heft the 500, I just use a “zoom telephoto” with reasonable sharpness past 300mm.

74-1627 by Powercube, on Flickr


Where will you shoot?
This is an important consideration. If you want to spot, get to know your airport well before making any serious lens investments.
At KPAE, all I ever really need is a 70-200 lens. However, I used to live in Sydney- and to take photographs from Lady Robinson Beach, anything not at the fence line needs between 200 and 500mm of zoom. In other words, don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. Know your area! Plan ahead! I can usually answer questions about where to go at most airports- so feel free to ask.

Airshows, well- safety pussies only move you further and further back from the flight line. Be prepared to feel like you spent a day getting beat up by a tree stump humping super teles around if you want the “good poo poo”. Keep in mind, airshow designers are idiots and usually put the viewers on the “backlit” side of the event.
Unless you are crazy/well connected, save your money and use a super zoom.

Technique
TRY AND FILL AS MUCH OF THE FRAME AS POSSIBLE AT ANY GIVEN TIME!!!

Cropping is the same as using “digital zoom” on your camera in some ways. You are just magnifying the flaws, exposing more interpolation noise in the sky, generally making your image look like rear end. This ain’t CSI- you are not generating magical new data by cropping. Get it in frame now, or you’ll hate yourself later!

But what about those shiny presets on my camera?

gently caress 'em. Half the time they only save as jpg, too. I just tell them to people when I am not sure how serious they are. You can get a good photo using the "little running dude" setting, but rarely great.
Ignore P. Stick to A, S, and M. Those will control your aperture (shutter will be computed for you), shutter (aperture will be chosen manually), or full manual. It may be less satisfying instantly, but over time- it's better. TRUST ME!

Always keep your aperture narrow enough that you avoid both diffraction softness from the lens and parts of the aircraft being “out of depth of field”. Realistically, anything f/5.6 or higher will work at the ranges you are shooting aircraft from. Up close, though, be mindful. Things are loving huge!

Shooting props:
People sperge about propblur! Big loving deal. You are learning! Learning how to get a sharp photo first is a fuckload more important than taking some mushy poo poo that has a full prop arc. Go for blur when possible, but never let it determine whether or not you get a sharp photo otherwise.

N580HW with prop blur by Powercube, on Flickr
If a propeller aircraft is in the air, try and keep the shutter speed above 1/250 (this is assuming you have vibration reduction on your lens, otherwise keep it to 1/focal length for the shutter speed until you are comfortable steadying a lens). If it is an airshow prop, 1/500 is where I would try to ballpark the target shutter speed. If the prop aircraft is on the ground, let VR act as your friend (especially in bright light) and take the shutter speed as low as you can without accidentally panning.

Shooting Jets:
You want, in my experience, a minimum of 1/500 for a commercial airliner. There are exceptions, of course, but for a flying jet aircraft 1/500 is a good starting place. There are a lot fewer things to gently caress up with jets. A good piece of advise for people just learning is to treat all commercial aircraft with jet skills and then branch out aircraft by aircraft.

N789EX taking off from BFI by Powercube, on Flickr

That there is not a bad primer, now all you have to do is take your shots home and edit them!


Since this is now a dorkroom thread, I'll try and make an effort post about editing when I am not doing my other job.

So, there you have it goons- let's share plane photos that we've taken or are planning to take! I'm usually on the internet enough to critique/assist in any aviation photography dramas you might have. I also know there are a few goons lurking around here who do business jet interior stuff. Come on in! You guys get paid to take plane photos!

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Snowdens Secret
Dec 29, 2008

So jewish I traded Hitler gifs
to gentiles for this avatar



What are good rules for shooting pics at / near an airport without getting hassled by security? Do most airports have designated areas, and how would you find them? Do plane photogs have to get registered like Amtrak wants trainspotters to do?

Powercube
Nov 23, 2006

I don't like that dude... I don't like THAT DUDE!

Snowdens Secret posted:

What are good rules for shooting pics at / near an airport without getting hassled by security? Do most airports have designated areas, and how would you find them? Do plane photogs have to get registered like Amtrak wants trainspotters to do?

Ahaha, what? Really Amtrak must've got sick of people hanging around the rail yards or something.

It's not like that with most airports. There are a few airports that seem to loathe spotters, but all of them are in New York City. The rule I find is avoid private property and never stop in a way that can block traffic. This often means parking on sideroads (but usually that's how you get closer)

Most airports will have rules about ladders that you will find out from security whether you want to or not.

There are some airports that have a location that just makes spotting a bitch (like SFO)- but if you are on public land you are usually fine.

I am sure other people will come in and tell me which east coast airports suck. I live closest to KPAE, and they love spotters- so I am pretty sheltered.

Plinkey
Aug 4, 2004

Can't we all just be friends?


BWI is really good for spotting. There is a public park/running/biking trail on one of the runway approaches and you'll get many planes per hour.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=balt...=h&z=17&iwloc=A

The BWI trail also goes under the other approach. I've never seen anyone get harassed for taking pictures.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=balt...=h&z=19&iwloc=A

StandardVC10
Feb 6, 2007

I'm going back out before the rain starts falling

Snowdens Secret posted:

What are good rules for shooting pics at / near an airport without getting hassled by security? Do most airports have designated areas, and how would you find them? Do plane photogs have to get registered like Amtrak wants trainspotters to do?

I think some places (the UK tried it as I remember) will have registration type programs, but it's more or less an airport by airport deal. I've been hassled, but what I try to do is just be honest, don't get in anyone's way, and don't be stupid.

As far as designated areas, I don't know of many in my area besides LAX's famous Imperial Hill. Even so, I've done photography at way more airports beside that. I generally look at the lighting, look at the direction arrivals and departures are coming and going in, and just kind of improvise from there, but this strategy will work way better if you have the luxury of more than just one or two chances to visit an airport, which you might not have.

I'm way too tired and zoned out right now to do much contributing, but this is my area of interest so I'll contribute more later hopefully.

Understeer
Sep 14, 2004

Now with more front end grip.

If anyone finds themselves in Toulouse, France, there is a great spotting hill on the west side of the runways, just north of the Airbus delivery center. I usually see 5 or so guys there every day with their huge super telephoto lenses. Or, more like 15-20 guys if the weather is nice and the A350 is flying.

Pablo Bluth
Sep 7, 2007
I've made a huge mistake.

My aviation photography is limited to a week every two years when a bunch of planes gather for the Farnborough International Airshow. Having a bunch of fast jets overhead is cool. I reckon I'd struggle to maintain enthusiasm for airliner after airliner at a commercial airport.

The mecca for British aviation photography surely has to be the Mach Loop training area in the mountains of Wales. One day I'll make the trip.

Phanatic
Mar 13, 2007

I don't want no Commies in my car. No Christians, neither.

Here're some I took:


Slackasses by Phanatic, on Flickr


SB2C by Phanatic, on Flickr


Just Pretending by Phanatic, on Flickr


Kicking Up Some Debris by Phanatic, on Flickr


Bombardier's Station by Phanatic, on Flickr

Powercube
Nov 23, 2006

I don't like that dude... I don't like THAT DUDE!

Phanatic posted:

Here're some I took:

Bombardier's Station by Phanatic, on Flickr

Awesome! Where'd you do your B-17 flight?!

Edit: I'm dumb

Powercube fucked around with this message at Oct 31, 2013 around 15:18

MrYenko
Jun 17, 2012

#2 isn't ALWAYS bad...


Powercube posted:

Awesome! Where'd you do your B-29 flight?!

That's a B-17.

Phanatic
Mar 13, 2007

I don't want no Commies in my car. No Christians, neither.

Powercube posted:

Awesome! Where'd you do your B-17 flight?!

Edit: I'm dumb

Mid-Atlantic Air Museum in Reading has a WWII airshow each year. So I went up on Yankee Lady.

PatrickBateman
Jul 25, 2007


So last year I was part of the entry into service team at United for the 787. All access ramp badge in Houston......


Pushback. From the Jetway.....



Took a few tries to get this right. Love the LED beacon on the 787.


GEnx-1B.

Delivery McGee
Oct 8, 2004

Bad Angus! Bad!

Airshows are fun. A local airport's Veterans Day fly-in:








Collings Foundation bombers:







My coworkers got to ride in them, I had to drive the car back.

Powercube
Nov 23, 2006

I don't like that dude... I don't like THAT DUDE!

PatrickBateman posted:


Took a few tries to get this right. Love the LED beacon on the 787.

First off, I'm jealous.

Second: A good trick for getting the beacon on every single 787 you see is to count to three after you see it flash. Shoot on three, btw. It's the most reliable beacon to shoot on any aircraft. Thankfully, the -9 has the same frequency.

DJExile
Jun 27, 2007

Ha ha! Pain is hilarious!



This owns really loving hard.

Also thanks OP, I went to a shitload of airshows as a kid and god drat this makes me want to get back out to some.

StandardVC10
Feb 6, 2007

I'm going back out before the rain starts falling

I've been doing this for several years. Civilian airliners have been my primary area of interest, but I think I want to get out to Miramar or El Centro for the military fast movers sometime.


If you see anything amazing that I've taken, you should assume that it's blind luck, I'm basically entirely self-taught and have a terrible habit of going out shooting in really dreadful high sunlight.

This was the first time I went spotting with the Canon 100-400L IS zoom telephoto. For a while it was kind of the favored lens for airliners.net's photographers, which is what sparked my interest in it, but I think it may have fallen out of favor a bit recently, and Canon is going to roll out a new version of it.

If you are new at this, I would recommend that you go for the good shot first, not the interesting/unusual airplane. That way, you're not on someone else's schedule for building familiarity with your locations and equipment, until you are ready to be. As far as I'm concerned, airshows are really the advanced course.

SoundMonkey
Apr 22, 2006

i just push buttons



If OP doesn't post what thread tag he wants for this thread before I get home from the mall I'm going to give it the stupidest tag I can find, even if it means having an admin use another forum's tags.

Snowdens Secret
Dec 29, 2008

So jewish I traded Hitler gifs
to gentiles for this avatar



SpoopyMonkey posted:

If OP doesn't post what thread tag he wants for this thread before I get home from the mall I'm going to give it the stupidest tag I can find, even if it means having an admin use another forum's tags.

Powercube
Nov 23, 2006

I don't like that dude... I don't like THAT DUDE!


Yeah, has to be that one. Or something retarded. I kind of am down for the stupid now... I think popular demand is what Snowden posted, though.

SoundMonkey
Apr 22, 2006

i just push buttons



Powercube posted:

Yeah, has to be that one. Or something retarded. I kind of am down for the stupid now... I think popular demand is what Snowden posted, though.

Too late already asked an admin for a tag change

(If they ever get to it)

Popular demand? Are you new here?

SoundMonkey
Apr 22, 2006

i just push buttons



Enjoy your new tag, friends!

Powercube
Nov 23, 2006

I don't like that dude... I don't like THAT DUDE!

SpoopyMonkey posted:

Enjoy your new tag, friends!

Almost too on the nose!

SoundMonkey
Apr 22, 2006

i just push buttons



Powercube posted:

Almost too on the nose!

...so much so that the admin who added it just added it to the list of available tags in Dorkroom instead of the usual move-to-other-forum-then-back-again tag change.

It's like they know us too well.

I was going to change the tag to BAN ME, except then if you ever edited the OP, you'd get autobanned when you hit save.

rcman50166
Mar 23, 2010

by XyloJW


I came into this thread thinking that this was about taking photos from planes and immediately thinking "Who does this on a regular enough basis to start a thread about it?" Spam some pretty sweet passenger plane window shots of a piece of a wing, then get out of here.

But this is a nice thread. Some fellows in the Aeronautical Insanity thread would like to see some of this, I'd bet.

Powercube
Nov 23, 2006

I don't like that dude... I don't like THAT DUDE!

rcman50166 posted:

I came into this thread thinking that this was about taking photos from planes and immediately thinking "Who does this on a regular enough basis to start a thread about it?" Spam some pretty sweet passenger plane window shots of a piece of a wing, then get out of here.

But this is a nice thread. Some fellows in the Aeronautical Insanity thread would like to see some of this, I'd bet.

Oh, they know- it started as an effortpost there.

Anyway, there's a huge storm near KPAE today 40-50kts gusty crosswind. Boeing is still doing test flying, so I am going to head out there.


B-2731 by Powercube, on Flickr

In the interim, I finally have a decent HU shot!

Snowdens Secret
Dec 29, 2008

So jewish I traded Hitler gifs
to gentiles for this avatar



rcman50166 posted:

Spam some pretty sweet passenger plane window shots of a piece of a wing

Any tips for these, by the way? Obviously if you know the plane layout you can avoid being over the wing. Still have to shoot through dirty and scratched windows, though, and it's kind of a crapshoot as to whether your side gets worthwhile views on takeoff / approach.

Powercube
Nov 23, 2006

I don't like that dude... I don't like THAT DUDE!

Snowdens Secret posted:

Any tips for these, by the way? Obviously if you know the plane layout you can avoid being over the wing. Still have to shoot through dirty and scratched windows, though, and it's kind of a crapshoot as to whether your side gets worthwhile views on takeoff / approach.

Not really, A. you want the wing unless you have a specific airport shot in mind. B. You can figure out which side will be backlit (at least on takeoff or landing) by finding out which runway is in use prior to check in. If you selected your seats in advance, you will have to use historical data and experience.

Scratched windows suck, but don't suck as hard as distorting plexiglas. Or worse, windows with built in polarizers

C-FWRM window by Powercube, on Flickr

Gullous
Jun 24, 2005

Ready to RACE


Cross post from the AI thread:

787 sunset by BHlavka, on Flickr

This was an impromptu shot, but it balanced nicely enough with the sunset. It's a 787 banking south near Edmonds, WA.

Paul MaudDib
May 2, 2006

My name is a killing word.


My parents live on an airstrip, and a couple summers ago they had quite a few warbirds out for an airshow in Detroit (I believe). These were with my Takumar 135/3.5, which wasn't really enough reach.


IMG_9238 by PaulMD, on Flickr

IMG_9222 by PaulMD, on Flickr

Untitled by PaulMD, on Flickr

I would imagine one of them is the Yankee Lady, she's based over at Willow Run.

Paul MaudDib fucked around with this message at Nov 18, 2013 around 18:13

Ambihelical Hexnut
Aug 5, 2008


Hey I like airplanes too!







Powercube
Nov 23, 2006

I don't like that dude... I don't like THAT DUDE!

Ambihelical Hexnut posted:

Hey I like airplanes too!

Wow, holy gently caress! Do you work in U.S. Army aviation or are you just very lucky?

Jiro Kage
Aug 6, 2003

PICKLE SURPRISE!

Powercube posted:

Ahaha, what? Really Amtrak must've got sick of people hanging around the rail yards or something.

It's not like that with most airports. There are a few airports that seem to loathe spotters, but all of them are in New York City. The rule I find is avoid private property and never stop in a way that can block traffic. This often means parking on sideroads (but usually that's how you get closer)

Most airports will have rules about ladders that you will find out from security whether you want to or not.

There are some airports that have a location that just makes spotting a bitch (like SFO)- but if you are on public land you are usually fine.

I am sure other people will come in and tell me which east coast airports suck. I live closest to KPAE, and they love spotters- so I am pretty sheltered.

SFO can actually get some good shots of departing aircraft from the south end of the SF Bay trail, and you can get some great shots of planes on approach from coyote park in San Mateo. Unless they are doing one of their weird runway configurations at the time, they almost always take off and land over these two areas.

As for airports, the best thing to do would be to call airport security and see if there is a tailwatcher group there. Sometimes they are given access to areas most people can't normally get into (after they have been generally vetted), and you won't be hassled by security. Hell, I believe it was the Chicago group that even got a news article and praise from the TSA for what they are doing, although I don't know what the hell they are doing that helps fight terrorism.

Ambihelical Hexnut
Aug 5, 2008


Powercube posted:

Wow, holy gently caress! Do you work in U.S. Army aviation or are you just very lucky?

Both!

Powercube
Nov 23, 2006

I don't like that dude... I don't like THAT DUDE!

^^^
You lucky bastard

Jiro Kage posted:

SFO can actually get some good shots of departing aircraft from the south end of the SF Bay trail, and you can get some great shots of planes on approach from coyote park in San Mateo. Unless they are doing one of their weird runway configurations at the time, they almost always take off and land over these two areas.

As for airports, the best thing to do would be to call airport security and see if there is a tailwatcher group there. Sometimes they are given access to areas most people can't normally get into (after they have been generally vetted), and you won't be hassled by security. Hell, I believe it was the Chicago group that even got a news article and praise from the TSA for what they are doing, although I don't know what the hell they are doing that helps fight terrorism.

Yeah, that would explain why I am finally seeing interesting shots from ORD, IAH has one as well- but they have for ages. It's nice to see that some airports are finally starting to see us as mostly harmless.

HookShot
Dec 26, 2005



My dad was in the air force for a good chunk of my childhood, unfortunately I don't have the 35mm p&s photos I took back then (I'm sure they were terrible) but have some from this year's air show:


Abbotsford Airshow 2013 by hookshot88, on Flickr


Abbotsford Airshow 2013 by hookshot88, on Flickr


Abbotsford Airshow 2013 by hookshot88, on Flickr


Abbotsford Airshow 2013 by hookshot88, on Flickr


Abbotsford Airshow 2013 by hookshot88, on Flickr

Gullous
Jun 24, 2005

Ready to RACE


Powercube posted:

Oh, they know- it started as an effortpost there.

Anyway, there's a huge storm near KPAE today 40-50kts gusty crosswind. Boeing is still doing test flying, so I am going to head out there.

I work right next to Paine Field and was thinking of trying to spot planes after work sometime. Is Nelson's corner the hill behind the Hilton? Do you use Flightaware to track incoming flights?

Powercube
Nov 23, 2006

I don't like that dude... I don't like THAT DUDE!

Gullous posted:

I work right next to Paine Field and was thinking of trying to spot planes after work sometime. Is Nelson's corner the hill behind the Hilton? Do you use Flightaware to track incoming flights?

I consider it in front of the Hilton. Do you know the the Future of Flight Museum parking lot? Yeah, that's what FlickR calls Nelson's corner. I'm there whenever there's neat poo poo or I am bored... I'm also easy to find due to driving a unique vehicle. Say hi if you see a dude with a weird car, a nerdy shirt, and a nikon.

Also yeah, I use flightradar and flightaware to track.

Powercube fucked around with this message at Nov 19, 2013 around 02:17

Gullous
Jun 24, 2005

Ready to RACE


Good point, it's by the front entrance of the hotel. I'll keep an eye out! I used to live in the apartments across the street, before I owned decent camera gear. I'm kicking myself for not checking it out while I lived there.

Powercube
Nov 23, 2006

I don't like that dude... I don't like THAT DUDE!

Gullous posted:

Good point, it's by the front entrance of the hotel. I'll keep an eye out! I used to live in the apartments across the street, before I owned decent camera gear. I'm kicking myself for not checking it out while I lived there.

Just remember, when I say future of flight parking lot- I mean the hills right near the fenceline.

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PREYING MANTITS
Mar 13, 2003

and that's how you get ants.

Some great stuff in here! I love planes and used to live a mile off one of the most active runways in Tennessee so I had a nice front row seat to a lot of things. I've since moved and thus my planespotting has suffered.

Paul MaudDib posted:


IMG_9222 by PaulMD, on Flickr

I would imagine one of them is the Yankee Lady, she's based over at Willow Run.

The one with the yellow stripe on the wing was the "Liberty Belle" which unfortunately had an engine fire while in flight a couple years ago (2011, I believe) and was forced to land in a corn field where the fire continued to spread to the rest of the frame. It was completely lost.

I only got a couple photos of it when it was in town for the reunion of the 390th. Of course they pick the ugliest day to come hang out.

Liberty Foundation - B-17G Flying Fortress "Liberty Belle" - s/n 44-85734 c/n 8643 (N390TH)

Other stuff:




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