Topic Author
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Help! Night Afterburner Shots Tomorrow!

Tue May 04, 2004 11:13 am

Hello all!

I've got a few shots in the database now of the 122nd Fighter Wing, and someone from the wing contacted me and told me that they want some night shots of their F-16's taking off!

SO - I have two nights to do this. Undoubtedly I'll play with the settings, but I was just wondering if you folks could help me out with some advice!

Here are the conditions we'll be dealing with: They'll use either runway 5 or 23. With my access, I can get extremely close to the action from either runway. Weather should be good.

From my experience spotting these guys, and perhaps it's this way everywhere, they don't usually light up the burner at the end of the runway. They'll go to full power, and maybe 500 feet down you'll see the burner light up. Should I go to a spot near midfield? Or should I even try the departure end?

I am shooting with a Canon Digital Rebel. I have the original 18-55 lens, and I also have a 75-300 IS USM.

Any help / suggestions / advice would be greatly appreciated!

I'd rather shoot BAD_MOTIVE
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RE: Help! Night Afterburner Shots Tomorrow!

Tue May 04, 2004 12:50 pm

Well, I have no idea how you'll do this at night. MY best bet would be to do it at sunset because then your shutter speed could remain a bit higher and you won't have to overexpose.

I don't think it's possible to get a good shot of the jet going full speed with your shutter speed ridiculously low, so you might want to get some more feedback from other guys...
I'd like to elect a president that has a Higher IQ than a retarted ant.
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RE: Help! Night Afterburner Shots Tomorrow!

Tue May 04, 2004 1:06 pm


Hike it up as high as need be, run it through NeatImage, and you should be fine. I'm not aware of any other way to tackle this, other than keeping the aperture wide, shutter slow, and ISO high.

Your obvious lens selection is the 70-300 (pending how close you can get to the action), but I wouldn't rely on the one mode IS that's bundled in there--or even the 2 mode IS on most L lenses. It's good for panning, but usually only in daytime, or handheld static night shots as long as 1/60.

So IS in this situation would prettmuch leave the dark. lol

Am I right??
What the FUTT?
Topic Author
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RE: Help! Night Afterburner Shots Tomorrow!

Tue May 04, 2004 1:22 pm

Thanks guys! Keep the suggestions coming in!

I do have a tripod, and I plan to get at least one timed exposure of a full takeoff and climbout. I'll probably play with ISO 1600, but I've heard it's extremely grainy. There will be four flights, one late afternoon, one right at dusk, and two after dark. I believe at least 8 aircraft will be flying, but I'm not absolutely sure. It should be a good show though!

Tuesday May 4th is the first night, and Friday May 7th will be the other. If you are nearby and would like to come see it, let me know!

I'd rather shoot BAD_MOTIVE
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RE: Help! Night Afterburner Shots Tomorrow!

Tue May 04, 2004 5:26 pm

The biggest problem here is contrast range. A night exposure capable of recording the aircraft will leave the afterburner rendered as completely blown highlights. Your best bet will be the late afternoon/dusk shots. I'd be inclined to expose for the afterburner and trust to the CMOS sensor to hold enough shadow detail. Blown highlights will look plain ugly.


Colin K. Work, Pixstel
Topic Author
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RE: Help! Night Afterburner Shots Tomorrow!

Wed May 05, 2004 1:59 pm

WELL tonight we saw them depart, and I took probably 60 shots, trying everything I could think of. As predicted, the aircraft were rolling before the burners were lit, so timed exposures were futile. I did manage to catch some nice clear shots of the burner itself, but the only other thing visible in the frame is aircraft lights and runway lights.

I'll upload one to and put a link in here for it. Maybe there is something I could try.

I used the 75-300 IS USM lens at 75mm, ISO 1600, 1/8 second exposure, 1.5 exposure compensation. Results kinda sucked.

Guess I should spring for that 2.8 L huh!  Big thumbs up

I'd rather shoot BAD_MOTIVE

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