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In-Flight Cockpit Shooting: Techniques  
User currently offlineContrail25 From United States of America, joined Aug 2009, 159 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 10 months 10 hours ago) and read 3869 times:

I took my camera along on one of our flights the other day and quickly found myself frustrated trying to get a good shot of the cockpit. For one, it's a Lear 35 so the cockpit is tiny, but more so I was having an extremely hard time working with the exposure. The sun angle was constantly changing and thus so were the shadows. If I had the panel nicely lit up, the outside view was overexposed to an extreme. One would think we were in a whiteout. Any shots that allowed me to see the outside view, the inside was completely underexposed with no discernible detail. I even tried using the flash, but to no avail.

Looking through the database here I found some shots that showed the cockpit nicely, but the outside view was just whiteout from over exposure. I'm guessing that's allowable?

Am I just shooting in impossible conditions or does anyone have some good techniques for shooting cockpit shots in flight?

6 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineJetmatt777 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 3002 posts, RR: 31
Reply 1, posted (5 years 10 months 10 hours ago) and read 3863 times:

I'd say early morning, late evening or night is best. The light inside the cockpit is not contrasting as much to the light outside as it does in the daytime, thus making exposure easier.

No info
User currently offlineContrail25 From United States of America, joined Aug 2009, 159 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 10 months 9 hours ago) and read 3858 times:

That'd make sense, we were flying around mid-morning on a beautiful sunny day. Thanks, I'll make sure to bring the camera along on future night flights.

User currently offlineJRadier From Netherlands, joined Sep 2004, 4768 posts, RR: 47
Reply 3, posted (5 years 10 months 8 hours ago) and read 3846 times:

Quoting Contrail25 (Thread starter):

Am I just shooting in impossible conditions or does anyone have some good techniques for shooting cockpit shots in flight?

1 word: flash!

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and ther
User currently offlinePascalstil From United Kingdom, joined May 2009, 40 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (5 years 10 months 6 hours ago) and read 3818 times:

A small aperture should prevent the view outside from being washed out (try f/32 or in bright sunlight even smaller). Then add the flash to get enough light inside and try to use a bit longer shutter speed. Then it should be possible to get both right.

User currently offlineCpd From Australia, joined Jun 2008, 4903 posts, RR: 36
Reply 5, posted (5 years 10 months 5 hours ago) and read 3812 times:

Quoting JRadier (Reply 3):
try f/32 or in bright sunlight even smaller

Watch out for softness caused by apertures like that, and also, those apertures will show up every single dust spot and blemish on the sensor of the camera.

And whatever you do, don't be silly like I was the first time (a long time ago) and rush with a F/2.8 aperture (it was dark).. Exposure and light perfect, depth of field not so great.... 

I'll put it blame QF and their very liberal servings of certain beverage types in flight...  

[Edited 2009-10-04 03:35:12]

[Edited 2009-10-04 03:46:35]

User currently offlineSpencer From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2004, 1636 posts, RR: 16
Reply 6, posted (5 years 10 months 3 hours ago) and read 3782 times:

As mentioned above, the time of day is almost critical, but not necessarily crucial. I always take a reading outside the window first, with the aperature I intend to use inside. I'll then dial that in using an all manual mode. Flash is important here at this stage and I'll angle it backwards or use the omni-bounce to soften it a little, and fire! If things are running smoothly and I've got it, I'll set the tripod up and not use a flash. Also, shoot in RAW and take a lot of frames. Ah, and get the crew to light the dials and screens up if possible!!

EOS1D4, 7D, 30D, 100-400/4.5-5.6 L IS USM, 70-200/2.8 L IS2 USM, 17-40 f4 L USM, 24-105 f4 L IS USM, 85 f1.8 USM
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