New To Photography

Sat Mar 17, 2001 12:30 am

Hello, my name is Dave Trotter from Orlando, FL. And I am not just new to aviation photography, but to photography in general. I just have two questions to ask.
I was just wondering how I could add a little more contrast in my photos. Right now I am trying to develop a way of taking my airline photos, but it just seems to be lacking contrast. Maybe you have some answers. Should I not use the AE or maybe set my own apeuture?

And one more question, what is the best speed to take shots at. I use, of course, 400 film to planes coming on approach, but I don't know if I should keep the shutter speed at 400, or go higher.

Thanks alot for your help, and I hope to contribute soon.  Smile
Dave Trotter
Posts: 10221
Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2000 6:38 pm

RE: New To Photography

Sat Mar 17, 2001 1:07 am

Welcome Dave,

Firstly, you need to identify what it is you want out of this. Will you be shooting slides, or do you want prints. Will you be digitizing the results (to put pictures on this site, for example)? Do you want to get into slide trading?

Contrast is the result of various things. Different films have different levels of contrast. If you shoot prints, your developer can significantly screw up (or improve contrast as well as color bias. Slides on the other hand are WYSIWYS (What You See Is What You Shot). The quality of the lens will also effect contrast.

For aviation pictures, most photographers here will tell you to use 100 speed film or slower. A few manage to get decent results with 200 speed film. 400 speed is unpopular because it is grainy, the colors start to go all over the place, and it starts to get very contrasty (unless you go for expensive professional films like Provia 400F, which is still not as good as a good consuzmer-grade 100 speed film.

Shutter speed, generally is a function of lens length. At 300mm you need 1/300th of a second or faster. At 100mm, 1/100th of a second or faster. There are things that can add or subtract from that number, but that is a good basic rule of thumb. Generally, for approach shots you should be at 1/125 or faster, unless you are really good at panning (even at 1/125 you need to be careful). Any speed above 1/250 or so should be quite easy to get clear shots.

There are plenty here who will give good advice. Holler when you have a question.

The only thing you should feel when shooting a terrorist: Recoil.
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RE: New To Photography

Sat Mar 17, 2001 3:08 pm

Now its Bo's turn

First of all.

Im screwed. I was at the airport today testing out my new lens staying till dusk..
I shot a Air Canada A340 rotating off with 300mm zoom for the first time and I shot it at.
1/30 sec..  Sad  Sad
At least I hope that it turns out well ..
Even though its slim..

Another thing bout photography for planes.
Since its Orlando/ [MCO] You should know your airport..
Like jot out some good spots to watch and snap planes.. and see if you can use the weather as an advantage.. NO CLOUDY CONDITIONS!!
Memorize some neat or important flights where 747s are used and such.. And suit yourself with a hand held scanner to listen to pilots so you would know where to go if a goody plane comes.. I tested it myself today.
A HEAVY at 20000feet was goin to a runway 3 km from where I was.. I went there and got there 15 minutes before the actual plane came.. Thats good preparness  Smile

Hope this also helps..


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RE: New To Photography

Sat Mar 17, 2001 11:43 pm

I would begin by recommending that you get rid of any 400 speed film. You want "fast" film to airplane photography. My personal choice is Kodachrome 64, which is a slide film. To me, in order to get the best results, this is the film you want and need.

Whether you are a slide trader or not, this film is by far, the standard of all other slide films. Other people on this board will tell you differently, but trust me, the most popular film is Kodachrome 64 for aviation photography. Excellent results, day in and day out, year after never changes with K64 film.

Just my opinion.......

RE: New To Photography

Sun Mar 18, 2001 8:37 pm

Hi there,

It sounds you working for kodak Jaydavis,

I think there are diffrent kind of conditions where you have to be prepared for (rain,sun,snow,fog)

The 400 fims are most off all grainy like some others have told you.

I use 100 or 200 print/slide films and shot the pictures with 1/350 or 1/250 shutterspeed, it all depends of the conditions(wheater)or how fast the plane comes in or taking off.

You have to figure out for yourself which fims suits best with the conditions at your airport.

You most go to your dealer try diffrent types of films and let them developed and see whats the best result.

If you read some older topics in this form you will getting more information about using diffrent films.

Good luck and cheers  Smile

With kind regards,

Jeffrey van Beek, AMS, Netherlands
Posts: 870
Joined: Wed Jul 14, 1999 1:15 pm

RE: New To Photography

Sun Mar 18, 2001 11:28 pm


Yes, the other post have great advice, and Brainstorm123 is right about trying different speeds of film. The weather factors ARE always coming into play when taking jet photos.

My advice, and I've been taking photos since the late 1960's, from Kodak InstaMatics to Minolta X-700 35mm, is to use the same film you like the best all the time. You make the call if you like slides or prints. I have about 90% prints and the rest are slides. I haven't counted my photos, but it's probably in the 15,000 plus range. The reason I always used the same film, is I use an older style 35mm where I have to set the ISO speed manually. If a 747SP shows up at SJC(which it won't,,but bear with me here) and I'm on 34 of a roll of 36....and I have to change film in less than 20 seconds and my next film is 400ISO, than V-E-R-Y valuable time is lost resetting the camera as a RARE jet is on final, and you'll be mad at yourself. If you don't match the film speed to your camera setting, then your photos won't be what you wanted,,,believe me, I had that happen to me at LAX one day.

What type of camera are you using? Manual or AF(Autofocus)

I have used 100ISO speed film now for the last 15 years and have buddies around SJC that use 200ISO and have great results.

Lens: Your lens is very important also. Get a good quality glass lens. I use a 60-300mm zoom and a 28-105mm for up close.

Settings: I use a 'program' setting on my camera in daylight. The X-700 has P for program, and the lens has a matching P in the ring. Match those 2 up, and I haven't had very many bad photos. The built in light meter does the rest, and I get excellent color. Sometimes based on lighting, whether it be AM shot or PM late afternoon shot, you will see some variances on the subject matter, but that's up to you to decide what you want in the photo. Some of the newer auto-focus cameras(AF) will help you greatly,,,the film speed is automatically set and the light meter built in will handle the setting,,,you just point and shoot. Using manual settings is more difficult, as the subject is normally moving, so you won't get the best shot. Try looking at some of the variances of the photos on this forum, and try to see if you can find photos of early AM or PM shots, and send the photographer an-e-mail and ask them how they took that may get some good response.

With the new technology nowadays, Slides may be a nice option, because the new scanners with slide and negative attachments make any format of film just fine. For personel collections and photo albums, nothing beats a book full of your best shots at the airport when you meet up with other JetFreaks at the fence.

Hope this helps.

SJC Alien

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