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Pilot Spotting Advice (air To Air, Cockpit Etc...)  
User currently offlineGRZ-AIR From Austria, joined Apr 2001, 573 posts, RR: 4
Posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6112 times:

Hi A.netters,

I have a Canon EOS20D with the 28-300 L IS...I just don't seem to be able to get any decent, sharp, air-to-air out of the cockpit shots. The lens is very heavy and combined with often light chops the passing airliner is out of focus, blurred etc...
How do you do it? Would any of you photogs or fellow pilots/spotters share your gear/setup. Maybe I should invest in a lighter setup that is also more travel friendly and easier to hand hold?

Concerning cockpit shots I would be interested in a flash that will not produce a lens shadow even at lets say 10mm...

Your help is as always greatly appreciated!

Thank you,

GA


When I joined A.net it was still free, haha ;).
11 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineWilco737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 8900 posts, RR: 76
Reply 1, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6111 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD MODERATOR

Quoting GRZ-AIR (Thread starter):
How do you do it?

Air2air is total luck in my opinion. It needs to be in the right spot so that the cockpit windows don't disturb the picture. I learnt: less focus length is better. I have the 100-400, but in the 744/748 I cannot use it above 120mm or so or the picture gets blurry. Stupid windows.

Cockpit shots are difficult due to the light inside and outside. You need a flash for sure to have the insight brighter. So set the focus on the panel, the exposure for the outside and use the flash. A slave flash is better (not the build in). Then you have a chance to read the instruments on the screens, otherwise they are just black.

I am using a Canon 7D and several Canon lenses and I take soooo many pictures and only a few turn out ok. Air2air is still the worst. I have so many air2air pictures, but none of them are upload worth here.

wilco737
  



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlineGRZ-AIR From Austria, joined Apr 2001, 573 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6108 times:

Servus Wilco,

thanks for the quick reply. The hint with the focal length is great...I'll give that a try next time. Do you use a Canon flash?

Thanks,

GRZ-AIR



When I joined A.net it was still free, haha ;).
User currently offlineWilco737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 8900 posts, RR: 76
Reply 3, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6103 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD MODERATOR

Quoting GRZ-AIR (Reply 2):
I'll give that a try next time. Do you use a Canon flash?

To be honest, I only have the internal flash of the camera. I don't have an external flash. If you are sitting in the pilot seat the flash sucks, if you are standing in the door, it is quite ok. You need to lengthen the shutter speed a little, to give the camera a chance to make the display visible. Too short shutter speed, the screen is black.

wilco737
  



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlinen314as From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 6006 times:

1. passing planes like those with contrails are not true air to air shots because air to air are only those who are planned in formation flying with a subject plane. BUT they are neat shots. My suggestion is to try to hold it as steady as you can and manually focus the lens to the area that the plane will pass. These are hit and miss shots. Do not use too much ISO because that will kill the quality of the exposure.

2. NEVER use flash in cockpit shots. They will reflect the glass cockpit and ALSO will only catch half of the CRTs information with the other half dark. Professional cockpit shots are timed exposures on a tripod for several seconds at closed apertures with all the instruments lit up. Also they are to be done at night to avoid unsightly things via the cockpit windows. The cockpit windows should be dark.

JAF


User currently offlineGRZ-AIR From Austria, joined Apr 2001, 573 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 5986 times:

Thanks for your help.

[Edited 2012-12-02 01:11:27]


When I joined A.net it was still free, haha ;).
User currently offlinejspitfire From Canada, joined Feb 2005, 308 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 5924 times:

Shooting out the front window, the windshield heat can also distort the photos.

Quoting n314as (Reply 4):
NEVER use flash in cockpit shots. They will reflect the glass cockpit and ALSO will only catch half of the CRTs information with the other half dark

Strong words! Since most of the cockpits I photograph don't have any glass, this isn't a problem and I do use flash.

But I do agree that they look way cooler at night. This one was taken last week. ISO 3200, 0.6 sec, f/5, set up on the tripod.



User currently offlineWilco737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 8900 posts, RR: 76
Reply 7, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 5916 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD MODERATOR

Quoting n314as (Reply 4):
NEVER use flash in cockpit shots.

Never is a very strong word. If you use the flash within the camera, then you are right. But if you put a slave flash properly into the flight deck, then the screens are properly exposed and the outside as well. I don't want either a full white outside or a pitch black outside, I want both.

Sorry for the shamesless plut, but on these pictures I used flash:


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Wilco737
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Wilco737


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Wilco737



But of course there are cases where the screen is black as the flash was directly towards the screens. A flash more sidewards would've been better:


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Wilco737



wilco737
  



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlineshufflemoomin From Denmark, joined Jun 2010, 467 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (1 year 4 months 1 week 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 5754 times:

Quoting Wilco737 (Reply 7):
But of course there are cases where the screen is black as the flash was directly towards the screens. A flash more sidewards would've been better:

The blank screens are not caused by the flash, they're caused by a fast shutter speed. If those monitors have a refresh rate of 60hz, that simply means that the flash on and off 60 times per second. Using a shutter speed faster than 1/60 increases your chances of capturing the screen between refreshes and seeing them as 'blank'.


User currently offlinesovietjet From Bulgaria, joined Mar 2003, 2519 posts, RR: 17
Reply 9, posted (1 year 4 months 1 week 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 5725 times:
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Quoting n314as (Reply 4):
passing planes like those with contrails are not true air to air shots because air to air are only those who are planned in formation flying with a subject plane.

If you're in the air and the other aircraft is in the air then it is in fact an air-to-air shot. It doesn't matter if you're in formation. Who the hell even cares? Sorry to burst your elite bubble.

Quoting n314as (Reply 4):
NEVER use flash in cockpit shots. They will reflect the glass cockpit and ALSO will only catch half of the CRTs information with the other half dark. Professional cockpit shots are timed exposures on a tripod for several seconds at closed apertures with all the instruments lit up.

Flash can be used very successfully without getting reflections or dark screens. Is there a rule book that says not to use flash? You offer a technique which is very specific and narrow minded. Not saying it doesn't work, but there are many ways to get good cockpit photos and yours isn't the only way. Nobody cares that it doesn't meet your "professional" standards. Some of the top line cameras out right now have such good high ISO performance you don't even need a tripod anymore. But we shouldn't question you since your are after all the "master photographer"!! Get off your high horse...

Anybody else tired of n314as's arrogant elitist posts that demean everyone else's work?

     

[Edited 2012-12-07 13:13:14]

User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 713 posts, RR: 16
Reply 10, posted (1 year 4 months 1 week 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 5722 times:

Two things to try

1 - bounce the flash off the roof or back of cockpit. This gives a much more even and softer light.

2 - balance the flash with the correct exposure for the external light. Work out the correct exposure for the view outside the window. If it's a crt cockpit, make the shutter speed 1/30th or less. Once you've established that (use the camera meter or a bit of trial and error using the histogram), set that exposure into the camera with it set on manual (this is important). Now take a shot with the flash turned on. The flash will automatically provide the right amount of light to fill in the dark cockpit.

Actually perfectly balanced inside and outside light looks a bit unnatural, so you may want to play with the exposure a bit to get a pleasing look. Note that a decent flash will allow you to vary the output by a couple of stops.


Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineshufflemoomin From Denmark, joined Jun 2010, 467 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (1 year 4 months 1 week 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 5715 times:

Quoting sovietjet (Reply 9):
Anybody else tired of n314as's arrogant elitist posts that demean everyone else's work?

As I said in another post, read his profile. He's under 15 and has been photographing for 4 months. He also lists his occupation as 'master photographer'. He's obviously just an arrogant, obnoxious child. Best to just skip his posts, as I'll be doing.


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