Topic Author
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Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:24 pm

Props On A Sunny Day?

Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:17 pm

Can someone help me please. What is the best way to go about shooting props on a really sunny day? i obviously want a low shutter speed so it doesnt make the props look like they have stopped but obviously with the low shutter speed a lot of light is able to get through and its making my pictures look really bright especially if the plane is white which most are. how can i get around this?

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Joined: Thu Jul 31, 2003 1:58 pm

RE: Props On A Sunny Day?

Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:26 pm

Are you familiar with the Exposure Triangle?

If not, it would do you well to read up a bit and practice. I don't mean to be abrupt, but learning yourself through practice and experimentation is a much better way to go than just having someone tell you settings to use.  
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
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RE: Props On A Sunny Day?

Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:36 pm

It depends on what you want to achieve, I think...

As far as I am concerned, I'd say that it is a "trial by error" procedure: you have to try different settings and pick the best one or the one that fits best for you.
For me, the best setting is the one that gives me "safety" but that gives me the blurry on the props (generally, it is not a "total blur").

With more light hitting the sensor, you will have to close the diaphragm in order to compensate: you can both do it manually in full manual mode or leave to the camera this duty by selecting time priority mode.
However, always bear in mind that slower shutter speeds may end up into blurry images... so, steady hand!  

Finally, I always start from this settings and then I adjust:
- 1/160 or slower for helicopters
- 1/250 or slower for props
Generally, on a bright sunny clear day... no wider than f/8

Now it's up to you to have fun trying it out!  

[Edited 2012-11-20 10:37:16]
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RE: Props On A Sunny Day?

Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:50 pm

*...waiting for a 'certain' AN26 picture to pop up...*   

On a sunny day, just stick to this:
You'll have to do the math yourself depending how low you want to go in shutter speed. Going lower than 1/100s might get a bit troublesome when your cam doesn't have ISO50. You can consider using an ND or polarizer filter to keep apertures in a reasonable range. (not too small, not too large)
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RE: Props On A Sunny Day?

Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:26 am

ND filter is probably the best way to go. While it may be possible to stop your lens down to f22 or f32, this is not recommended because

a) most lenses are not designed to perform at their best fully shutdown and

b) there is an effect known as 'diffraction' which can cause some deterioration of image quality beyond a certain aperture (also depends on the resolution of the sensor). While unlikely to be noticeable at f11 - f16, by f22 you will start to see the effects.

A polarizer will work to cut the light but they are more expensive and also may have unwanted effects depending on the angle of the light. An ND filter won't change the look of the image in any way.

Note that prop speeds vary considerably, and will generally be turning much slower on approach than on takeoff. As a general rule, big props = slower rotation speed = slower shutter speed to get decent blur. For example with a microlight with a rotax engine, you'll get decent prop blur at 1/250th - at the other extreme, trying to get good prop blur on the Airbus A400M is quite challenging - I think I was shooting at around 1/30th, perhaps less, before I was happy.


Colin K. Work, Pixstel
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Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2004 3:40 pm

RE: Props On A Sunny Day?

Wed Nov 21, 2012 11:36 am

There is another point that is not often considered, particularly on aircraft in flight.
At low shutter speeds the movement of the aircraft is significant during the exposure resulting in blur even ignoring the very high risk of camera shake at low shutter speeds.
If the aircraft is coming straight towards you that reduces the risk but it is necssary to take plenty and throw them away if they are not good enough. I am rather obssessed with a good prop blur and I throw a lot away to get shots like these.

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A lot of practice is needed and so aircraft doing circuits are a boon, just keep trying - these were all at Cranwell, not far from you.

Clean your sensor before you go out, it will save you a lot of time later as sensor dust gets to be a real problem as you stop your lens down!

Mick Bajcar

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