Welcome to the wonderful world of aviation photography! Frustrated is a normal way to feel when just starting out, don't worry we have all been there, so welcome to that club as well.
Photography should be fun, but you must keep in mind, when comparing your early results to others on this website that the guys and gals who have successfully uploaded on to this website, have most likely been taking photo's for many years, and are knowlegdable about the challenges of photographing aircraft, as well have a good understanding of editing software to tweek the images before they're ready for upload. You should browse and read past topics on the the aviation photography forum to read what others have done to develope and improve their techniques, you can learn alot.
I recommend you take the same approach with learning photography, that you have taken with learning to become a flight instructor. I imagine there was alot of theory you had to commit to memory, before you took to the air in a plane. Once you got up into the air then you of course applied that knowledge in the form of technique. The same with photography, you only get out of it what you put in.
What type of camera you have, will also determine how much control you have over the image, i.e. does it have manual mode etc.
There are a number of things you should investigate to help improve your results to begin with.
First get to know your camera, inside out. Read the manual and always carry it with you when taking photo's, change settings to see what effect it has on the subject. The subject doesn't have to be a plane, it can be anything, a ball is good because it will show you how light falls on it, whether from above the side or front, etc. Concentrate on composition i.e arranging the object within the frame. For instance a frame can be divided up into thirds. You can put the ball in the centre, top or bottom of frame. If you want to try with a plane, frame the plane from side on. Place the fuselage in the middle which will form one third of the frame then let the top third be sky and the bottom third be concrete or grass. This is one technique of many!
I recommend you read up on f-stops, and learn how opening up the iris to a low f-stop reduces your depth of field and vice versa, how closing or stopping down the iris to a high f-stop increases your depth of field.
As dazbo5 mentioned - light is critical. The time of day that you shoot is critical in revealing the subject. You will often hear photographers talk about magic hour. This usually occurs as the name suggests about an hour before sunset, but you can start earlier so long as the sun is low on the horizon, casting long shadows. At this point your knowledge of apertures, f-stops, shutter speeds and ISO settings i.e. how sensitive you make the sensor to light, comes into play. In aperture priority you can also stop down in thirds to help trim the exposure, always a good technique to use in sunny climates, shooting large white fuselages against blue skies. I knew to do this with my still camera, when my shots of aircraft appeared overexposed, to solve the problem straight away and continued shooting without further frustration.
For me the devil is in the detail. The closer you are physically to the subject the better you can see the detail of your subject. If you can't get closer, then if you have a zoom lens, zoom in closer to your subject, but this can effect your results. If you have a good lens, with good optics, such as those produced by Canon and Nikon, amongst others, then your images will be clear and in focus, provided your panning and framing technique is good, the whole aircraft will be in shot too.
This all comes with practice, just like when you grease it on with your landings, applying the right technique with plenty of practice and before long you will be doing it with your eye's closed, which is frowned upon in photography but o.k. while flying in which case your either IFR or IMC, one of the two.
I haven't even got into photographic editing software techniques, because you have alot on your plate to learn and practice already. The other reason is that once you have mastered your camera and photographic technique, you wont have to do much editing of your shots anyway.
Look forward to seeing your first upload on A.net.
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