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How Do You Get A Photo Like This?  
User currently offlineTurbophan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (14 years 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 4400 times:

I was looking through the lot of pictureshere on this website and found a few that really intrigued me. How is this done? The detail is amazing I guess you'd really have to get close to the plane and snap a picture - but how about one that's taking off like that Air Canada??

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Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Jason Milligan

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Stephan Curkowskyj

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Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Chris Sheldon


15 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineDa fwog From United Kingdom, joined Aug 1999, 867 posts, RR: 7
Reply 1, posted (14 years 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 4217 times:

well, it's a question of both knowing a good spot and having the right kit.

For example, that American 767 of mine was taken with a long lens, which compresses perspective and fills the frame with the aircraft, even though the place I was photographing from was pretty close anyway. In that case, the technique is to point the lens at the camera, and wait for the aircraft to turn across the frame until you have the details you want in shot.

Now, the Air Canada takeoff pic, that's a question of finding an unobstructed spot a little away from the runway end. Then, depending on how far you are away from the runway centreline, and how long a lens you have on, that will vary the angle the aircraft appears in the pic. So, Stephan's pic, he's fairly close, and the angle is clearly from beneath. Compare that with my shot reporduced below, where I am around 1/3 mile away and using a longer lens (500mm in this case) - you can see the aircraft doesn't appear to be so far above.

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Chris Sheldon

The problem with taking this particular type of shot is that every aircraft will be at a slightly different height as it comes past you, and if you're set up in the right spot to get heavies (747,777,A330/340) then everything smaller will be way too high to photograph.

Jason's shot of the Cathay A340 is not taken using a particularly long lens (perhaps you can confirm this, Jason?) - and this type of shot is all about knowing a spot where you can get REALLY close. There are plenty of airports where there's a spot near a taxyway somewhere that lets you get really close to the aircraft, and sometimes you'll even need a wideangle lens to get it all in. Generally, shots taken with a "standard zoom" (by which I mean a lens in the range of around 28-80mm) will look sharper and with better colours than when you have had to use a long lens. Lenses in the shorter zoom range will generally give better contrast performance and less flare than longer zooms, and if you can find a spot where a standard 50mm will do the job, then you're looking at very good quality and extremely sharp images indeed.

User currently offlineJasonm From Australia, joined May 2000, 238 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (14 years 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4174 times:


As far as my shot is concerned, I was standing about 30 meters away from the aircraft and although I don't remember the exact focal length I'd say it's around the 50mm mark.

Jason Milligan
Melbourne Australia

User currently offlineSonic99 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (14 years 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 4131 times:

Hey Turbophan,

There are a few factors IMO that would make a shot what it is. Chris certainly pointed out a few of my secrets but here's what I look for when taking pictures:

1) vantage point: As Chris and Jason pointed out the factor is perhaps one of the more important ones in determining the final output and success of a shot. You may either be close to the action and use a shorter focal length or be farther - thus requiring more "reach" with a lens.

2) Lighting: The most important criterion (IMO) for a successful shot. Now lighting isn't strictly limited to full sun - although that helps a great deal with most shots. Lightning defines the photo to a great extent - shoot during the day, evening or night but proper use of light is essential.

3) Patience and experience: hmmmm neck-in-neck with the other two points? Perhaps. At first many a shot will not be successful until you have a good sense of what equipment will be required in relation with what you want to shoot. This also ties in with lighting and where you position youself for a picture.

I dunno if this fully answers your question more than what Chris has already mentioned. Hope it helps.

BTW, I used a 200mm ƒ2.8 fixed focal for that shot of the Air Canada which has given me lots of grief in the past for not being able to zoom out in case of need. But the results are truly rewarding when it works.



User currently offlineKcle From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 686 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (14 years 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 4099 times:

Well, besides the few pics you mentioned, the rest in the database are done quite simply, go to college and become a professional photographer. Once you have acculmated thousands in debts, you start selling your photographs for outrageous prices so you can go and buy the latest equipment like a digital camera with 1000 mm digital zoom, a scanner that costs more then the kid flippin burgers at Burger king makes in a whole year, and then, in order to post your impeccible, and outstanding pics here, you have to spend even more on a DSL line.

If I offended any professional photographers, sorry. I just know that since I'm never going to amount to anything as being a professional photographer, I'm stuck "borrowing" an old second-hand 80-200mm lens camera, and going to my three usual spots at CLE.

User currently offlineThomasphoto60 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 4198 posts, RR: 26
Reply 5, posted (14 years 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 4095 times:


"If you wanna to play the blues, well you gotta to pay you're dues....and you know it don't come easy!" To quote George Harrision! In other words its going to take something called EFFORT on your part and you had better to learn to accept rejection especially if you want to get into the arts as a profession as you seem to imply.

I am one of a FEW professional photographers on this site. Most here are dedicated amateurs and whether you belive that or not is up to you. It has also been said time and time again on this forum that you do not need to invest untold thousands into photographic and scanning equipment. From your profile, your only 13-15, hell your better off than I was when I was your age, all I had was a Kodak 110 pocket camera (this was way back in the 70s, btw).

Here's a few free tips for ya! Crack open some books on photographic basics and get out to Hopkins and shoot! Yeah you probably get more rejections, but then again you might get some accepted. Also stop your whining, because it will often result in responses like the above.


"Show me the Braniffs"
User currently offlineSonic99 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (14 years 1 week 12 hours ago) and read 4058 times:


With a defeatist attitude like that you certainly won't get any of your work recognized. I can't speak for everyone that has photos here at Airliners.net, but I started with photography way before realizing that I could combine some of those skills with a passtime that I've enjoyed for many years - aviation. I'm not a professional photographer, I don't have thousands of dollars worth of equipment. Heck I don't even have a worthwhile scanner to contribute here - always borrowing my friend's time to scan a few photos. Same with lenses. All I really own is that 200mm (well that and a 28-105 that came with the camera when I bought it a year ago - after saving for it for 2 years).

If you bother reading through my post then look through it and read it carefully - especially the third point. Everything else just flows. Once you're happy with the photo you've taken you'll realize there's more to it and try again.


User currently offlineJwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 17
Reply 7, posted (14 years 1 week 12 hours ago) and read 4054 times:

good equipment helps, having access to restricted areas helps (but people with such access often are not allowed to use cameras there anyway for security reasons).
What helps most is experience and patience. Film is cheap, a missed moment will bug you for a long time. Better waste 10 shots to get the one you want than not having that one shot at all.

I wish I were flying
User currently offlineTurbophan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (14 years 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 4010 times:

Thanks for your replies! I didn't really know what kind of equipment to use. For some reason I thought that I could take a photo like that with a small mini camera. Although I have a better one too. I have a Canon Elan7E with a 28-90 zoom. From what you guys are saying that's obviously not enough.I'm thinking of posting some of my own photographs.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but there seems to be somekind of animosity here. Am I missing something?


User currently offlineJwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 17
Reply 9, posted (14 years 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 3984 times:

Questions like yours are asked regularly. Some people get tired of answering the same question over and over.
That is part of it.
I also sense a tendency to consider techniques used (and especially locations) to be some kind of magical formula that is not to be disclosed to others.

I wish I were flying
User currently offlineScreener2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (14 years 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 3986 times:

It takes time and effort. I remember Stephan was having a lot of trouble getting any pics uploaded a few months ago. He posted a bunch of his pics on this forum, got advice, modified his methods a bit, and now has a number of very good quality pics on this site. Airliners.net did not reduce its standards for his sake - Stephan got them in through work and merit. And I am sure that if you ask him today, he is happy for the education and his new-found skills.

Jwenting is another who has been frustrated in the past, but is now starting to get the hang of it.

Everyone here went through exactly the same experience. Those who cannot stand criticism or have no patience drop out. The others end up being better photographers. It is not easy, and it shouldn't be. You can only learn through a bit of discomfort.


User currently offlineJwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 17
Reply 11, posted (14 years 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 3972 times:

doh, thanks S2  Smile
For me it is not so much becoming a better photographer (only lots and lots of shooting does that) insomuch as finally getting to grips with my scanner. Took a while to get the darn thing to make a sharp scan that was not horribly underexposed.
Getting a new scanner last month also helped  Wink/being sarcastic

I wish I were flying
User currently offlineGerardo From Spain, joined May 2000, 3481 posts, RR: 29
Reply 12, posted (14 years 21 hours ago) and read 3942 times:

I'd only like to add, that a certain level of equipment is absolutely needed. This is a decent SLR camera and a lense with at least a zoom of 200mm, or more. But it doesn't have to be the flagship of Nikon, or Canon, and it doesn't have to be the 2500US$ lens. I for example have a Canon EOS 30 and 2 zoom lenses, both were under 300$ (but I am still dreaming of that special Sigma lens  Smile/happy/getting dizzy). To round up the equipment, I would definitely go for slides and a film/slide scanner.

Something different: So far, Chris and Stephan pointed out very important thing for TAKING the pics. But another question is, how to SCAN those beauties. I'm 100% sure, that different people will get different results, scanning the same pic. So, dear Chris and Stephan and others, which secrets are there?  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

I'll make a start. I NEVER use the sharpen tool, but only Unsharp Mask, which I apply after resizing the pic. This is the most impotant tip I have.


dominguez(dash)online(dot)ch ... Pushing the limits of my equipment
User currently offlineCYKA From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (14 years 20 hours ago) and read 3935 times:

Hmm I found that the sharpen tool produces better results then unsharp mask, in Painshop 7 anyway. I agree with Gerardo on not needing expenisive equipment though, I use a nearly 20 year old SLR kit($175 for body/50mm lens, $65 for 75-150 zoom) and all my photos are tack-sharp. The only expensive component should be the scanner, for a photog on a small buged wanting to get photos added here .

User currently offlineGerardo From Spain, joined May 2000, 3481 posts, RR: 29
Reply 14, posted (14 years 18 hours ago) and read 3923 times:

Sorry, CYKA, but I hope you work with "Paintshop" and not "Painshop"  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

Sorry, I had to  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

As for the sharpening, I get noise in the areas with only one color tone, as for example fuselage parts or the backgound. That's why I prefer the unshapr masken tool.

Kind regards

dominguez(dash)online(dot)ch ... Pushing the limits of my equipment
User currently offlineCYKA From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (14 years 18 hours ago) and read 3921 times:

haha, I always forget the last letter. Paintshop really is a pain-shop though since I still haven't really figured out how to do anything but edit photos with it.

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