Sponsor Message:
Aviation Photography Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
How To Take Takeoff/approach Shots  
User currently offlineJZ From United States of America, joined May 1999, 252 posts, RR: 0
Posted (15 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3910 times:

I'd like to get some advice on taking approach/takeoff shots at locations close to the runway. I found that I am not capturing the picture well so that many times I miss the head or the tail of the plane. So what techniques do you use to ensure you get the full length of the plane?

Thanks in advance for your help.

8 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineAndyEastMids From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 1107 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (15 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3804 times:

Practice, practice, practice. We've all had bad ones some time or other.

A very smooth pan technique is needed, following the airplane from well before the point where you want to take the photo, and to continuing the pan - follow through - even after you've pressed the shutter button, and at least until you can see the subject in the viewfinder again after the mirror has flipped right down.

Then just practice, practice, practice. Try shooting a few pictures with a slightly wider setting on the zoom lens first (assuming you use a zoon), to give yourself slightly more chance to get the whole airplane in the frame. Then, as you gain experience, you can zoom in somewhat closer so the nose and tail come really close to the edges of the frame.

Oh, and watch the horizon, especially if you are taking touchdown and rotation shots - the natural tendency is to follow the airplane and keep it level in the viewfinder, but then the horizon comes out on a slope.


User currently offlineBodobodo From Canada, joined May 2000, 553 posts, RR: 10
Reply 2, posted (15 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3794 times:

A lot of it comes down to practice. You can try a few different methods to see which works better for you.

1)Constant adjustment method:

When the plane is approaching decrease the focal length on your zoom (zoom out) to constantly reframe the shot as much as possible. When you are happy with the way things look through the viewfinder take the shot. This can take quite a bit of practice because you need to pan, readjust the zoom and then take the shot in quick succession.

2)Keep focal length constant (probably better to begin with)

If you are staying in the same location and shooting planes landing on the same runway then generally you will be using the same or very similar zoom each time for the same type of plane. Perhaps try following a plane which doesn't really interest you and adjust the zoom. Take note of the focal length and preset your lens to that when you are ready to take a picture of a similar sized plane on the same approach path. When preparing to take that shot don't adjust the zoom but just pan with the plane and when it fills up the majority of the viewfinder then take the shot. You can obviously refine this over time. This works better for landings since the planes will be usually following the same profile and touching down close to the same area. It will be a bit trickier if you want to catch planes rotating at takeoff since this can vary enormously depending on the size of the plane and how heavily loaded it is.


User currently offlineJZ From United States of America, joined May 1999, 252 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (15 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3765 times:

Thanks for ideas.

For panning with the subject in the viewfinder and taking picture when the subject fills most of the view, when should you press the shutter half-way to get the focus? Can simply panning smoothly eliminate the blurriness cause by camera motion?

User currently offlineAndyEastMids From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 1107 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (15 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 3754 times:

As for when to press the shutter button part way, I tend to do it several times as the aircraft comes towards me - each time I press the shutter button part way and then lift off again, the focus is readjusted so that when I make the final press, the change in focus needed is slight.

As for panning, yes, panning can eliminate the blurriness caused by camera motion. The airplane should be sharp because it is not changing position relative to the camera, whilst the background may be blurred. It depends what shutter speed you use, but in principal the closer you are and the faster the airplane is going, a higher a shutter speed is desirable. For any airplanes moving pretty quickly across your field of view, try to keep the shutter speed up as much as possible, at least until you get used to panning.


User currently offlineA380-200 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (15 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 3726 times:

Hi JZ,

Regarding the focusing by depressing shutter release half way...

A lot of newer AF cameras will have a facility to track the focus as the object gets closer - I know both my Canon EOS 50e and EOS 600 have this (ok..the EOS 600 is not a newer camera...maybe lots of older ones have it too  Wink/being sarcastic )...and this can be useful.

It depends what you feel most comfortable with...you can look on this as one less thing to worry about...or one more thing your camera can screw up for you.

Sometimes I use it...sometimes I don't.


User currently offlineAndyEastMids From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 1107 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (15 years 1 month 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 3710 times:

I find the active adjustment autofocus on my Canon cameras next to useless - rather than the constant slight readjustment I far prefer the one-shot mode where I can see the subject sharp before I press the button the rest of teh way.


User currently offlineZoomer From Netherlands, joined Dec 2000, 221 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (15 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 3683 times:

To begin with, light permitting, shoot at 1/500th of a second. As you get better you can reduce to 1/250 and 1/125. I wouldn't go any lower than that. As mentioned above, be sure to follow through. There is a natural tendency for many to stop the panning action as they depress the shutter.

User currently offlineJZ From United States of America, joined May 1999, 252 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (15 years 1 month 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 3630 times:

This past weekend I shot 2 rolls of landing outside JFK. By following the advices on panning I got much better results. The planes came out very sharp -- I can easily read the registration numbers and other small writings on the fuselage. Thanks for all of your help!

Now another question: the background sky came out grey. The weather was very good with sunshine and no clouds. But I think the slight haze in the air or the strong sunshine might dilute the colour of the sky to make it look grey. I have a UV filter on my lense. Any suggestions to make the sky look really blue?

Once again, thanks in advance for your help.

Top Of Page
Forum Index

This topic is archived and can not be replied to any more.

Printer friendly format

Similar topics:More similar topics...
How To Take Long Exposure Shots? posted Fri Oct 25 2002 02:51:14 by Continental
How To Take Night Shots posted Mon Dec 3 2001 21:50:23 by SafetyDude
How To Properly Expose Interior Shots! posted Thu May 6 2004 13:21:46 by Chris78cpr
How To Acheve Good Cockpit Shots posted Sat Oct 5 2002 20:14:16 by BA777
How To Take Airliner Photos At Night? posted Tue Jun 11 2002 14:29:34 by Hkg_clk
How To Take Good Photos Of Aircrafts? posted Sun Jul 15 2001 10:21:59 by 343
Where To Take Good Ground Shots At Lhr? posted Wed May 9 2001 11:08:31 by Hias
How To Take The Perfect Slide? posted Sun Dec 17 2000 10:47:10 by Lai
What Shots You Like To Take? posted Mon May 24 2004 00:27:04 by Leezyjet
How To Make These Shots Better? posted Wed Feb 6 2002 12:22:01 by Tsentsan