HAL
Topic Author
Posts: 1742
Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2002 1:38 am

Shooting Through Cockpit Windows

Sun May 09, 2010 5:34 am

Hello everyone,

I've tried contacting some of the more prolific (and good) pilot-photogs here on A.net, but haven't heard anything back yet. My question that I'll pose here to any airline pilot who has had an air-to-air shot accepted is this: What equipment & settings did you use to get your photo? And which aircraft did you shoot from? I'm asking because I've had a couple of dozen shots from the cockpit rejected, and only one accepted:

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © David Sperry


The others were all rejected for soft/blurry, which was a direct result of the aberration caused by shooting through an inch of acrylic/glass/heating wires/dust/bug smears. I'm especially interested in the shots of aircraft below your altitude, which would require shooting through the glass at a lower angle, increasing the effect of that aberration.

Examples of good shots (that I've tried mimicking to no avail) are:

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Anthony Jackson
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Javier Guerrero - AirTeamImages


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Sigurdur Benediktsson
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Anthony Jackson


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Brett B. Despain
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Javier Guerrero - AirTeamImages



If anyone who has succesfully submitted shots like these reads this post, I'd like to hear how you did it. Thanks!

David

[Edited 2010-05-08 23:25:31]
One smooth landing is skill. Two in a row is luck. Three in a row and someone is lying.
 
User avatar
ThierryD
Crew
Posts: 2029
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 6:58 pm

RE: Shooting Through Cockpit Windows

Sun May 09, 2010 7:33 am

Well David, apparently you don't consider me as being one of the "good pilot-photogs" here but I'll try to answer your questions anyway.  

What I've come to realize is that the aircraft/windows is/are one (if not THE) major factor when it comes to successful A2A shots.
During my time on the Fokker 70/100 I hadn't too much trouble getting some good A2A photos:


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

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

Photo © Planecatcher



However on the 744, things look a bit different (literally) as the cockpit windows are thicker and show way more aberration, especially towards the bottom.

The only successful inflight photo from the 744 I got accepted so far is this one:

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Planecatcher


I was a bit lucky here as we were low and almost perpendicular to the airport.

A few things you'll have to consider to maximize your chances of getting a good A2A photo:

- Shoot as perpendicular to the window as possible
- Keep the lens as close to the window as possible to avoid unnecessary reflections (and of course avoid shooting through dirt or bug remains  )
- when photographing aircraft in midair, shoot with shutter priority with a high speed of 1/800 or more; this will help you compensate for the relatively high speeds of the aircraft
- consider exposure compensation and/or complete manual settings as most cameras are overburdened with the light conditions up there and normally tend to overexpose
- take as many pictures as possible (I heard some guys (especially spanish ones...    ) tend to shoot 100+ photos to get one right   )
Getting good A2A photos is a real challenge and if the conditions aren't right (e.g. other aircraft too far away or appearing in the lower part of the window frame) it just won't work no matter how good the equipment or the photog are but with the above hints you might increase your chances.

Good luck!

Thierry
"Go ahead...make my day"
 
aviopic
Posts: 2423
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 7:52 pm

RE: Shooting Through Cockpit Windows

Sun May 09, 2010 10:06 am

Quoting ThierryD (Reply 1):
During my time on the Fokker 70/100 I hadn't too much trouble getting some good A2A photos:

We make our aircraft with the pilot in mind  
Quoting ThierryD (Reply 1):
(I heard some guys (especially spanish ones...

I wander who that might be  


To add to Thierry's list:
Get as close to the window as you can, remove lens hood.
Scratches are far less important as one might think and they won't show up if your focal point is far away.
Thus a slightly longer lens is preferred together with a relative wide aperture(to reduce DOF to a minimum).

Shot through 75 year old DC2 windows(and they are scratched).

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Willem Honders
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Willem Honders



It's like shooting through a fence in a zoo, get close enough and the fence is gone.
The truth lives in one’s mind, it doesn’t really exist
 
HAL
Topic Author
Posts: 1742
Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2002 1:38 am

RE: Shooting Through Cockpit Windows

Tue May 11, 2010 8:15 am

Quoting ThierryD (Reply 1):
Well David, apparently you don't consider me as being one of the "good pilot-photogs" here but I'll try to answer your questions anyway

Thierry - I did send you a note, but I'm guessing an e-mail snafu was the problem since I didn't hear back from anyone. 

Thanks guys for your suggestions. I've been doing pretty much all you offered, so I guess I'll have to just wait for those 'perfect conditions' as I blow through hundreds of shots. Up close, no lens hood, high shutter speeds & manual settings are what I've been doing lately. So I guess it's just a matter of patience.

As a side note, I found the windows on the A320 were a bit better than the 767, and the DC-10 was the worst of all. And if the window is curved (i.e. 747 front window, 767 2nd window), there's almost no way to compensate for the distortion. One suggestion I found helpful was turning off the windshield heat just before you begin shooting. When the elements are powered up they create a small area of expansion immediately around each wire that degrades the image. With the elements off, the glass/acrylic seems to be a bit more uniform. Of course be sure to follow the manufacturer's/airline's guidelines & policies regarding pushing those switches.  

It's too bad though... I've seen some amazing sights from the front office that just don't quite meet the high standards of A.net. I'm sure a lot of people would love to see them, but I do understand the need to keep the 'riff-raff' out of the database.

Thanks again Thierry and Aviopic for your suggestions.

David
One smooth landing is skill. Two in a row is luck. Three in a row and someone is lying.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot] and 2 guests