malandan
Posts: 373
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2004 1:09 am

Aerial Photography

Mon Mar 06, 2006 5:07 am

I have been asked to participate in some air-to-air photography of light aircraft, something I haven’t tried before. Bearing in mind that close formation is unlikely, has anyone advice as to what lens to use. I have a 100-400mm IS, but this may prove difficult to manoeuvre in the confines of the cockpit, and also a 17-85mm IS which perhaps may lack focal length. There may be a touch of the “how long is a piece of string” about this, but what would be the preferable lens size for this situation?
Also any other general tips would be welcome.

Malcolm.
My interest lies in the future as I am going to spend the rest of my life there!
 
dendrobatid
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Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2004 3:40 pm

RE: Aerial Photography

Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:04 am

Malcolm
I'm afraid that I think that you are too old for such a venture and I think that you should hand the project to a much younger man.
You have my address don't you ????

Mick Bajcar

PS
Can I borrow your 100-400 IS as it sounds right for the job
 
INNflight
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Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2004 5:11 am

RE: Aerial Photography

Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:43 am

Hi Malcolm,

As you said close formations are unlikely, take the 100-400, and to have an easy-going time in the air, do a preflight briefing with the other pilot(s). Talk about what formations you'd like to shoot, arrange the time of the day yourself ( pre-dusk is usually best for harmonic, nice coloured shots ), tell them in which order you'd like to have the aircraft, and ask them if they have further suggestions or wishes.

Arranging important things before takeoff makes it a lot easier than via radio up in the air.

Have fun, it's easy-going.

cheers,
F.
Jet Visuals
 
9VSPO
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RE: Aerial Photography

Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:51 am

Quoting Malandan (Thread starter):
I have been asked to participate in some air-to-air photography of light aircraft

Take a good book to read in-between shots.  Wink
 
eadster
Posts: 2125
Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 7:31 pm

RE: Aerial Photography

Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:02 am

Having done alot of Air-to-air shots before, the main thing I'd suggest is to sit in the rear of the aircraft. There's more room to spread out and change from side to side when photographing and that way too the pilots head won't be in the way!
 
malandan
Posts: 373
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2004 1:09 am

RE: Aerial Photography

Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:29 am

Quoting Dendrobatid (Reply 1):
I'm afraid that I think that you are too old

Thanks Mick, I'll have my heart pills with me but not sure whether there will be room for the zimmer frame!

Quoting Dendrobatid (Reply 1):
You have my address don't you ????

Yep, planning to head your way and drop in, or drop something anyway!!!

Quoting INNflight (Reply 2):
do a preflight briefing with the other pilot(s)

It will only be him and me but, yes, we will plan the shoot on the ground for sure. Already snapped a few ground-to-air in the late afternoon sunlight, great lighting conditions.

Quoting 9VSPO (Reply 3):
Take a good book to read in-between shots.

Are you sure? He has a rather speeedy biplane so should get a fairly quick re-circuit

Quoting Eadster (Reply 4):
the main thing I'd suggest is to sit in the rear of the aircraft.

There will only be two seats and I doubt if I will be allowed to wander over to the LH one. Were talking Rans, Vans, Skyrangers, Cessnas et al!!! That's why I implied that wielding my 400mm may be problematical but I guess that will be my prime choice.

Thanks guys !!!

Malcolm.
My interest lies in the future as I am going to spend the rest of my life there!
 
aviopic
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Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 7:52 pm

RE: Aerial Photography

Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:53 am

Malcolm I would probably reject A2A with light aircraft and no close formation.
Personally I use a 24-70 and more recently a 24-105 because I believe if that is not enough I might as well keep my 2 feet on solid ground.

Light aircraft usually means "props" which you don't want to freeze(I hope) and that you are looking at an exposure time slower then 1/100s.
At 400mm this is hard enough even on solid ground let alone in a bumpy aircraft running flat out with the window open.

So my idea is get in close or not at all besides wing tip to wing tip is more fun anyway.

Good luck,
Willem
The truth lives in one’s mind, it doesn’t really exist
 
CFIjames
Posts: 85
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2004 10:39 am

RE: Aerial Photography

Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:56 am

Glare off of the windows is a very major problem when shooting from small airplanes. If you can, I would suggest opening the window to get a clean image. (dont forget the neck strap!) If not, professionals like Paul Bowen bring a black piece of material to shroud the camera, his head, and as much of anything else that he can to reduce reflections. Ive done some air to air in close formation with Yak and Nanchang aircraft and the smaller lens would be more appropriate. If you dont plan on being wingtip to wingtip, then the 100-400 would definatly be the better choice IMO.
There are 3 simple rules for making a perfect landing every time. Its a shame that no one knows what they are.
 
malandan
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RE: Aerial Photography

Mon Mar 06, 2006 8:07 am

Quoting CFIjames (Reply 7):
(dont forget the neck strap!)

I wonder what the terminal velocity is for a 20D with a 400mm lens attached?
The aircraft to be photographed is flown by an aerobatic pro but the camera ship will be piloted by a weekender so has to be the longer lens me thinks.

Thanks James.

Malcolm.
My interest lies in the future as I am going to spend the rest of my life there!
 
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walter2222
Posts: 1237
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2005 3:40 am

RE: Aerial Photography

Mon Mar 06, 2006 8:24 am

Hi Malcolm,

I also use a 100-400mm, but I did not have the chance yet to use it for A2A. Personally, however, I prefer to have solid ground under my feet (although it has IS...) and some free space around my self. I remember trying to shoot pictures with it while I was standing on the slopes of Axalp (Swiss) and only succeeded to track the jets when my feet were firmly positioned... So, I think that less weight may be an important factor while shooting from an aircraft. Why don't you try shooting from the passenger seat in a driving car (I did it once, and it was no success...) to get a feel on which of your lenses handles the better.

Wishing you lot of fun and success with your A2A session!

Best regards,

Walter
Canon 347d mkII ;-) - EFS10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - EFS18-55mm - EF28-105mm f3.5/4.5 - EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6l IS USM - ...
 
aviopic
Posts: 2423
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 7:52 pm

RE: Aerial Photography

Mon Mar 06, 2006 8:55 am

Quoting Malandan (Reply 8):
The aircraft to be photographed is flown by an aerobatic pro but the camera ship will be piloted by a weekender so has to be the longer lens me thinks.

No not necessarily, normally we ask our "subject" to fly level and straight so we can swirl around to our liking.
In your case it just means to turn the table, talk to the pro about what you would like to shoot and tell your pilot to fly level and straight.
So your pilot will feel secure and the other guy is about to have a nice time.
All it takes is a good plan and a briefing to fit the pieces together.

Willem
The truth lives in one’s mind, it doesn’t really exist
 
photopilot
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RE: Aerial Photography

Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:07 am

Ok an ABSOLUTE MUST to remember while doing A2A. You state that the camera plane pilot is a weekender pilot. This scares the Sh*t out of me, so you must be VERY CAUTIOUS in planning this flight.

In A2A photography, the camera ship should ALWAYS fly absolutely straight and level and let the target aircraft do the maneuvering into position. It is HIGHLY DANGEROUS for both aircraft to be maneuvering at the same time. So the camera plane flies nice, straight and level and the subject aircraft formates to you.

From what you describe, the aerobatic pilot will have the skill and experience to position his aircraft to you.

Now to shooting details.

I always use lenses in the 35 to 200 range. One body generally has a 35-70mm lens and the other an 80-200mm lens (on a 35mm FILM camera)

Shutter speed for props works best at 1/250 or 1/125. You can mathmatically calculate the degrees of rotation you will get (the blurr factor) in advance if you know the propeller RPM during the flight. e.g, at 2000 RPM, a prop tip will move approximately 47 degrees of angular rotation or about 1/8th of a full rotation at 1/250th of a second. At 1/125 it will move aprox 90 degrees of angular rotation or 1/4 of a full rotation.

Depending on how many blades the prop has, you can calculate at what point you would get a "full disk" blurr type shot, or whether you want just enough blurr to show movement, but still have the blades visible.

Example, this shot I took A2A was shot at 1/250th of a second, with a 150mm lens on a Hasselblad. (about equal to a 90mm on a 35mm film camera) Enough blurr to show prop motion, but not so much that the blades aren't visible.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Stephen Liard



Have fun, get some great shots, but remember to fly safe.

Steve
 
malandan
Posts: 373
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2004 1:09 am

RE: Aerial Photography

Mon Mar 06, 2006 9:01 pm

Quoting Walter2222 (Reply 9):
I prefer to have solid ground under my feet

Yes, me too Walter but I really do have to try it - may be a once in a life time opportunity!
Thanks for the good wishes.

Quoting Aviopic (Reply 10):
and tell your pilot to fly level and straight.
So your pilot will feel secure

These for sure are the basic essentials, and thanks for your good advice, Willem.

Quoting Photopilot (Reply 11):
This scares the Sh*t out of me,

Steve, thanks for that, but having flown in a Rans S6 from a sloping grass airfield on a "slightly" windy day, I'm not sure what could be more scary.

But whow, thanks so much for the technical advice. I have only one camera body and am coming round to think that a 70-200mm lens may be the most suitable but not sure that the funds will run to an IS version. Still have some time to think about this.
Many thanks for your interest

Malcolm.
My interest lies in the future as I am going to spend the rest of my life there!
 
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walter2222
Posts: 1237
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2005 3:40 am

RE: Aerial Photography

Tue Mar 07, 2006 8:32 am

Hi Malcolm,

Quoting Malandan (Reply 12):
may be a once in a life time opportunity!

This is certainly true (probably a dream for the majority present at this forum, I guess...)! Go for it (and be sure to take enough memory cards and spare batteries with you)!

PS: Please keep us informed about the results? I would love to see them here on A.net!

Best regards,

Walter
Canon 347d mkII ;-) - EFS10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - EFS18-55mm - EF28-105mm f3.5/4.5 - EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6l IS USM - ...
 
aviopic
Posts: 2423
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 7:52 pm

RE: Aerial Photography

Tue Mar 07, 2006 8:58 am

Quoting Photopilot (Reply 11):
Shutter speed for props works best at 1/250 or 1/125. You can mathmatically calculate the degrees of rotation you will get (the blurr factor) in advance if you know the propeller RPM during the flight. e.g, at 2000 RPM, a prop tip will move approximately 47 degrees of angular rotation or about 1/8th of a full rotation at 1/250th of a second. At 1/125 it will move aprox 90 degrees of angular rotation or 1/4 of a full rotation.

Correct but you made it a bit difficult I think.

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Willem Honders


2 Engine's doing about 900rpm at idle which after reduction leaves roughly 600 prop rpm, which means every blade will make a complete circle 10 times/second so you would need 1/10s to make the circle complete.
Not really as there are 3 blades and one will blur the other, an exposure time of somewhere between 1/10 and 1/30s will in this case do the trick.
For this photo I used 1/20s

Willem
The truth lives in one’s mind, it doesn’t really exist

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