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Airliner Photograhy-what Else?  
User currently offlineTomH From United States of America, joined May 1999, 960 posts, RR: 2
Posted (15 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 1327 times:

I want to hit on a few subjects here,

Related to Joe Pries A.340 17mm approach shot:C'mon guys, those of us who grew up with turbojets rather than today's very quiet turbofans knew the value of earplugs. And of course we always wore them, right?
(You say something?)

I agree with Joe its not possible to figure out what the judges of our photos are thinking. I haven't had many rejections here, but I think that's not because my images are always high quality, but rather that many of them are older shots showing old and obscure airlines.

The first time I had a photo rejected I whined to Johan and gave my reasoning why it should have been included, blah, blah, blah. He politely responded, and in fact was accurate in pointing out some flaws in my picture. I got to thinking "He surely can't give personal responses every time he rejects a photo of mine, whether I agree with him or not." So I decided to take the rejections in stride. Nowadays I'm usually urging him to tighten up the standards.

My military collection is at least 10 times the size of my airliner collection, but I would like to see huge improvements in airfighters.net submissions before I join that effort. You don't want me judging that stuff, I would reject more than half of it.

Editors as judges, go figure. I sent in very small prints to a well-known publication as examples of what I had available. Thinking they would get back to me and request 8X10s if interested in my work, I was amazed to see the small stuff appear in print. Another time I was asked for photos for a newspaper. I only had a small print. It wound up being splashed across the center pages! Of course the opposite has happened as many times. You send in an enlargement and it winds up in print the size of a postage stamp. You gotta laugh at this stuff-it's life.

I've been looking at this site for about three years, contributing for about two years. I continue to be amazed at how many people shoot color print film here. How to say this tactfully.......STOP!!!!! Serious photographers shoot slides-period. Usually ISO 100 or slower. My experience goes back more than 30 years, and I have previously posted examples of the benefits of slide film. Using print film is like introducing image degradation right from the start due to the additional optics and dynamic range damping that occurs in the print process.

To the new photographer, some advice. What worked for me as a kid still works today. Get a few copies of national Geographic magazine and STUDY the photos. Understand what a good photo is-faithful color, sharp image, good timing. Try to incorporate those qualities in your work. Again, I respectfully suggest you stop using color print film!!

I could say more, but I've probably lost a lot of you by now , anyway. Nap time, y'know. Give me your best shot, or more appropriately, give Johan your best shot. And remember, if you do have a number of cheaply-developed color prints, the best storage technique for them is in an old shoebox under the bed.


17 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineMirage From Portugal, joined May 1999, 3125 posts, RR: 13
Reply 1, posted (15 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 1186 times:

"I continue to be amazed at how many people shoot color print film here. How to say this tactfully.......STOP!!!!! Serious photographers shoot slides-period."

Sorry? I must change to slides because you want?


User currently offlineCkw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 813 posts, RR: 12
Reply 2, posted (15 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 1192 times:

While I agree with much of what Tom says, I'll take exception to his warnings about colour print film. I currently use a mix of neg and slide film (Fuji) and find the following. In ideal conditions (bright sun, clear blue sky etc.) 100 ASA slide film will produce better results than 100 ASA negative film. Full stop.

However, conditions (certainly in my part of the world!) are seldom ideal, and I find good negative film (I favour Fuji Reala) is preferable on dull days to slide film. Furthermore, any slide film above 100ASA is, IMHO a complete waste of time whereas faster negative films can still produce quality results.

I will agree that PRINTS are a problem - though this is not a problem with the film, but as Tom says, the print process - the reason I bought a slide/neg scanner was the realisation there was a lot more detail and tonal range in my negs than I was getting in the prints!

As to Air Fighters - I have a feeling that the overall quality may never match the average of airliners.net simply because shots of any particular aircraft will be, on the whole, rarer. There is already a degree of editorial discretion (which I agree with) in allowing poorer quality shots of rare subjects so I suspect this latitude will be required to a greater degree in air fighters in order to obtain a good coverage.

I guess there will always be a degree of tension between those who, at one extreme, would prefer to see a few hundred shots of the very best aircraft images (possibly regardless of subject), and those who use a.net as a reference tool and would seek as comprehensive a database as possible. I guess we are all to one side or another to some degree on this scale.



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineThomasphoto60 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 4270 posts, RR: 25
Reply 3, posted (15 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 1169 times:

Tom, look sport. How dare you imply that those who shoot negetives are not quite as serious as those who shoot chromes. I use to shoot for the wires and there is a well know newspaper photog who shoots prints and digital on this site. As a matter of fact 98% of all wire service and newspaper photogs are shooting print or electronic media. But by your measure of professional standards, I guess these guys just don't measure up ? So most members of the NPPA(National Press Photographers Asociation) do not craft seriously enough huh ? Next time check your facts before you make such an silly assertion.

BTW, All of my work on this site are chromes! Thats beside the point!


"Show me the Braniffs"
User currently offlineGranite From UK - Scotland, joined May 1999, 5615 posts, RR: 59
Reply 4, posted (15 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 1166 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi all

I have been a print man since the early 80's (when I started). I tried slides once and it was a disaster. Probably the reason was that the store did not have the particular slide film I was looking for and I chose something else.

All my recent scans have utilised Kodak Royal ASA100. The quality of them speak for themselves.

I agree with Colin. The UK weather is not the best in the World and you can go for weeks with no sight of the sun at all  Sad

Again, everyone has their opinions on what is best to use.

Gary Watt
Aberdeen, Scotland

User currently offlineTomH From United States of America, joined May 1999, 960 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (15 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 1156 times:

Assuming Gary will trim off those responses outside of the bell curve, we can now get down to some photography discussion without fear of the excess emotion that has been so commonplace here. The statement I made about “serious” photographers using slide film is sure to be controversial. I don’t feel overly opinionated nor one bit guilty for having stated something that may lead to active discourse. Who am I to tell people what film to use? No different than most, I guess. I got an opinion, I have expressed it.

Many times I have witnessed this scenario in the Need Help Quick postings: “I’ve tried different scanner settings on this picture and still I get rejections! Please take a look at it at such-and-such URL and let me know what you think.” I take a look at the photo. Nice shot of a plane climbing out over the numbers. Nice light, good framing. Quite a few white spots in the sky though, maybe even on the plane. Is that a rope hanging down from that hangar? No it’s just a long fibre that got stuck in the printing process somewhere. Subject aircraft appears a little blurry, I wonder if it looks that way on the original. Original what? Original negative, that’s what. Most of these problems-and they are very common here, would not exist if the individual had been shooting slide film.

The quality of color print film has increased greatly in recent years. I have used color print film for as long as I have been taking pictures, though it has constituted perhaps only 5% of my color photography. I have more and more good things to say about it actually, as it is really quite good now. Yet if a new photographer asked what film to use in photographing transportation subjects, I would unhesitatingly respond, “Slide film.” That response may be different in a couple of years, who knows, I may yet be heard to utter the words, “print film” when asked that question.

Lets talk digital photography. There are really great digital cameras out there now., I have seen the results here and elsewhere. I have used one that impressed me. Heck, I may get one someday, after all, they will be getting better and at the same time more economical to own. I do have a question about storage of digital images. If you are not one to put these images on a photoCD or other media that has thumbnail prints, isn’t it going to be a huge problem down the road to find a particular image? You know the one I mean, where someone ten years from now says, “Hey, that was a real nice First Generation Concorde shot you took back in ’01, can you make me a print of it?” I ask this question because of an unfortunate experience a friend had. He apartment suffered from a catastrophic fire while he was away. I took his 80,000 slides that were in plastic slide pages out of the ruins to my home. I had to keep the stuff outside in the winter-it smelled that bad. The slide compartments were full of water, which turned to ice. I did my best to evaluate the damage. In the end, he salvaged about 25% of his collection. How would I have even begun to make such an evaluation if the photos were digital images kept on today’s media-CD, floppy, tape-whatever. In the case of a CD, you could clean it and judge if it had warped/melted. Then you could decide whether or not to put in your CD drive. But unless the associated catalog documents also survived, you would have a huge image identification job, wouldn’t you? I’m not saying film survives environmental hazards better than computer media, but it does present us with additional problems.

Well, I’ve used up enough bandwidth for now. Cheers to all.

User currently offlineCkw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 813 posts, RR: 12
Reply 6, posted (15 years 3 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 1119 times:

I think comparing scanned slides/negs/prints is not getting anywhere ... I would contend that the variation in scanning equipment/software and individual's skill far outweighs any inherent differences in the original image.

Regarding digital storage - yes, it is a new medium and we need to relearn effective storage and access methods which will stand the test of time. I'm sure we have all heard horror stories of lost digital archives - and from people who should know what they are doing (NASA for one!). Backup is the obvious answer, along with distributed storage. Fortunately, the storage ability of each new media which comes along increases exponentially, so it is sensible and practical to move your archive across to new formats. The problem is, are you archiving corrupt files?

Having saved an image, it is vital to check it has saved correctly. I've had more than one picture on CD, which on re-visiting had a dirty great black line through the center - possibly a defective/damaged CD? The point is, mindlessly copying this image would be a waste of time and provide a false sense of security.

To my mind, there is no subsititute for proper procedure which means properly "cataloguing" the image (you WILL forget the details later!), "archiving" to what ever storage medium you use and CHECKING the integrity of that archive, and providing yourself with a convenient reference tool - me, I print off a set of "contacts" (I also keep a thumbnail pic in my database). It all takes time, but worthwhile for the future.

To those starting out, this might seem a lot of effort for a few hundred pics - and it is a bit tedious. But when your collection grows to tens of thousands, you will really appreciate a proper archive and reference system. And believe me, its a lot easier to start now than try and do it retrospectively!



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineTappan From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 1541 posts, RR: 33
Reply 7, posted (15 years 3 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 1107 times:

Negative Film Forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mark G

User currently offlineJoe pries From United States of America, joined May 2000, 1957 posts, RR: 51
Reply 8, posted (15 years 3 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 1112 times:

Im with Mark and Tom all the way- negative film forever!!

User currently offlineTomH From United States of America, joined May 1999, 960 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (15 years 3 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 1111 times:

Thank you for your thoughtful response to the digital storage issue. My photography has generated only a small amount of income, so it remains more or less a hobby for me. Because I have corresponded with many photographers over the years and traded slides and B&W negs along the way, the work involved in properly storing the collection is considerable. I have recorded the essential “who, what, when and where” of each image I have in my collection, including those images gained by trading. I probably don’t have to tell you that it is like having a second job-it takes huge amounts of time.

Pertaining to negative storage. Seven or eight years ago I had several people ask me for my “list of F-4 Phantoms,” and my “list of DC-8s,” just for example. Of course I didn’t have my negative descriptions in a database, so I was unable to produce the desired lists. Someday I should be able to scan the labels using OCR capability to produce a sortable list. I think this will happen soon, and I may be able to accomplish it using the software that came with my recent flatbed scanner acquisition. Still, the quantity of negatives I have to scan (30K+) make this a daunting task, so I need to weigh the value added to my collection of this process. Right now, it doesn’t appear to be worth it, because I can usually locate a negative in 5-10 minutes, convenient enough to handle the occasional request, but not fast enough for a business, for sure. As a person with a sizeable collection already in existence, you can probably imagine if I won’t have the time to put my negative descriptions in a database, it is truly unlikely that I will ever scan all these negatives to any computer-related medium. There would have to be some compelling motivation to do this (profit is the only one that comes to mind), otherwise who wouldn’t rather spend more time outdoors taking pictures? A person who is starting out can probably integrate this process from the start in a much more convenient manner, as you have implied. You pointed out also the need to be willing to revisit the archive for quality control purposes, and to migrate to newer storage medium on occasion. I agree this is all necessary, but honestly I don’t see the average non-professional photographer, myself included, accomplishing this. I don’t believe the time is available for most of us.

A side note on long-term storage. When I went through USAF historian’s school (1995), there was discussion regarding their favorite medium, which is microfilm. (This is for document storage; they are not a photo repository). The agency at that time was adamant that microfilm was not obsolete, and that for distribution of permanent records would probably be used well into the future. I expect this is still the case, and I believe they are wise to stick to microfilm. It is highly resistant to obsolescence, power failures, accidental deletion and viruses. It needs to be properly stored as a photographic material, but all you will ever need is a magnifying glass and you can get your information. It may sound crude but that is the essence of a fiche reader, a magnifier with added conveniences, and really that is all an enlarger is. These conveniences and positive aspects of film as a medium need to be considered by those contemplating all-digital photography and image storage.
All the best-TomH

User currently offlineCkw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 813 posts, RR: 12
Reply 10, posted (15 years 3 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 1102 times:

Tom, like you photography for me is a still a hobby activity which occasionally pays for the film used! (But I keep trying).

When I went digital (scanner and printer) my sole motivation was to get decent prints at a reasonable cost - initially for my personal files, but to my delight, the occasional sale as well. After a while I felt that rather than digitising images on an ad-hoc basis, wouldn't it be nice to have a completely organised data system with all pics on CD (I'm a trained librarian - this sort of anal retentiveness is an occupational hazard). Well it took me 3 years to do 20,000 odd scans (not all aviation), but it has, in my opinion been worth while.

In fact, with a neg/slide scanner and the right software it's not too tedious as you can do whole strips of negs or blocks of slides in batch mode - I believe the new Nikon scanners have an option which allow you to scan a whole uncut roll of film unattended or a stack of 50 slides. The one thing I really love is having a book of "contact sheets" I can browse through at my leisure - so much easier than sorting through slides or prints.



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineBA From United States of America, joined May 2000, 11198 posts, RR: 57
Reply 11, posted (15 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 1079 times:

I may not know a lot about photography (I'm getting into it), but I know one thing, at that is film is still great. Slides are somewhat harder to use than film. Film is much more flexible, although slides offer higher quality, film is much less troublesome. There is nothing wrong with film. Film quality is still quite high, so you have no right to say that film is bad, and only slides should be used!

"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
User currently offlineMirage From Portugal, joined May 1999, 3125 posts, RR: 13
Reply 12, posted (15 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 1078 times:

Worst than saying only slides should be used is trying to create two clubs:
- the club for serious photographers shoting slides, one step above all the other photographers no matter if they take good or bad pictures as long as slides are used, or: the pseudo élite.

- the club for point and shot photographers who like to play with their cameras and think it's very cool to take planes photos. Don't know the meaning of the word "slide" so they use those kind of films that give nice pictures in paper so that they can store them like a stamps collection, or: photos'r'us.

Sorry but I see some arrogant speech followed by a putrid silence.


User currently offlineBodobodo From Canada, joined May 2000, 553 posts, RR: 10
Reply 13, posted (15 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1076 times:

While my personal preference is to work with slides it is nothing more than a preference. I wouldn't be so bold as to say that serious photographers shoot slides only and don't see what the point is of coming on the forum and arrogantly try to tell people that they really are crazy to be using negative film. Photographers use what suits them best and it's the final result that counts. Can you confidently look at each photo on this site and tell whether it was shot on slide film, negative film, or purely digital? What about whether it was scanned from a print or the original negative. I doubt it and if it isn't that obvious then I suppose it's not really that important. It's really the final product that matters and how you get it (with the exception of altering or doctoring the original) is immaterial.


User currently offlineNikonman From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 1061 times:


I thought you were a slide person? Negative film is print stuff...Don't you mean "positive" film?

User currently offlineTomH From United States of America, joined May 1999, 960 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 1044 times:

Your description of the advantages of print film is very accurate. Please note that in my 1/23 post, I described print film as follows....."The quality of color print film has increased greatly in recent years. I have used color print film for as long as I have been taking pictures, though it has constituted perhaps only 5% of my color photography. I have more and more good things to say about it actually, as it is really quite good now."


User currently offlineTomH From United States of America, joined May 1999, 960 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 1041 times:

My message about film types is this: The serious transportation photographers I have known use color slide film exclusively.

User currently offlineTomH From United States of America, joined May 1999, 960 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 1040 times:

Thanks for your 1/23/01 response. Actually, I'm pretty ignorant of what the wire photographer’s use for film. I am aware that there are some very successful contributors to this site that work for newspapers. Some of their images are astounding-far better than anything I can produce on any kind of film. Today’s color print films, which are fine products, have likely been a part of these successful images. But to this point in time, virtually all of the photographers I have known that shoot aviation subjects in color use slide film. When the day comes that I see these people loaded down with color print film then I will update my statement.


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