Topic Author
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 4:21 am

Photographing Tips And Tricks

Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:21 am

Hey Everyone,

I'd like to introduce myself as a young, 19yo, Grade 3 Flying Instructor in far North Queensland. Ever since I was a young child I've loved aviation and now thanks to a lot of hard work (and my parents) I've achieved my dream to fly for a living  . I'm racing through my hours like never before, learning a bucket load of new things everyday and lovin' it!!

On my 16th Birthday my parents gave me a camera and since then I've taken countless pictures of planes, airports, hangers, helicopters and just generally everything aviation wise. I take pictures to show my love for aviation and let everyone who doesn't have the luxury of being in such an inspiring industry, see what I do each day.

I want to share my photo's with everyone here as well, I've learnt a lot from the website and want to give a little back in return. Unfortunately I'm having a rather difficult time figuring out how to take a good enough picture.

The main issue I'm having is size. It might be as simple as practice but I'm finding it hard to judge whether or not I need to take a big picture and crop heaps or do whatever. I've had a play with the settings on my new camera and the size is either too small or too big for a full frame shot, how can I whether or not I made the subject of the photo the correct size?

The next main issue I guess is the sun and light. I've played around with the shutter speed and aperture quite a bit but still finding it hard some days to get a nice clear shot with enough light. Are their sometimes where the environment just isn't working with me or are there other ways around it?

Thanks so much in advance for everyone's help. Hope you can all see some of my pictures soon.
Posts: 2719
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 8:05 am

RE: Photographing Tips And Tricks

Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:27 am

Quoting HarryStanhope (Thread starter):
The main issue I'm having is size.

I'm not quite sure I understand what you mean. In terms of camera settings, you want to capture as much information as you can so always use the highest resolution your camera is capable of capturing. You can then reduce the size afterwards. Most camera use an aspect ratio of 3:2 or 4:3, so maintain whichever your camera uses. You want to fill the frame with the subject aircraft so you minimise the cropping required and get maximum quality.

Quoting HarryStanhope (Thread starter):
The next main issue I guess is the sun and light.

Lighting is probably the most important part of photography. If you don't have the light, you'll struggle. You always want to have the light illuminating your subject so always try and have the light source, ie sun, on your back. You don't want to be taking photos in to (facing) the light source as it'll be backlit leaving the sky too bright and the aircraft dark. This of course is in an ideal world so it's not always that simple, but always try and have the subject correctly illuminated and you'll see your results improve.

Equipment: 2x Canon EOS 50D; Sigma 10-20 EX DC HSM, 50-500 EX APO DG, Canon 24-105 f/4 L, Speedlite 430EX
Posts: 281
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:12 pm

RE: Photographing Tips And Tricks

Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:30 pm

Hi Harry,

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.

Good Luck!

[Edited 2012-07-04 15:38:32]

[Edited 2012-07-04 15:39:51]

[Edited 2012-07-04 15:41:19]
Posts: 204
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 2:36 am

RE: Photographing Tips And Tricks

Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:50 am


Welcome to the club! As a fellow 19 year old "young" guy in this world, its always nice to see another join the ranks. I definitely echo was has been said above about the learning curve being rather stiff and frustrating at times. That being said, and I cannot stress this enough, don't be afraid to ask questions. It is one thing to read something in a vanilla Camera Manual or Technical guide book, and it is a whole separate thing to actually understand and put it into practice.

While some might snap or get testy, there are plenty of us who will be more than willing to help where we can! You've landed in a good place to ask for help. There are also other venues where you can share photos that aren't quite up to snuff for this sight as you practice and hone your skills.

Look forward to seeing your stuff here in the database!

Nick Peterman
Posts: 344
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2005 8:40 am

RE: Photographing Tips And Tricks

Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:24 am

There are definitely some times when the environment is working against you. The Sun disappearing behind a cloud just when you go to snap a photo of a plane is a perfect example. No way to control that, and no way of working around it.

Best advice is to get out there as much as you can and practice. Think about the angles you want ahead of time and try to plan things as best you can, but always remember, you are not the one calling the shots. The spotting gods call the shots in this world.

Also, 'cropping heaps' is not what you want to be doing. Fill the frame as much as possible to preserve as much detail as possible. If you have to crop heaps, you need to get closer.
Posts: 12529
Joined: Thu Jul 31, 2003 1:58 pm

RE: Photographing Tips And Tricks

Fri Jul 06, 2012 3:01 am

Quoting HarryStanhope (Thread starter):
Are their sometimes where the environment just isn't working with me or are there other ways around it?

There are no ways around weather and environmental factors. The easiest thing to do is simply to walk away and come back another day when the weather/light is better!

I recommend reading threads in the Photography Feedback forum, even before you start your own. You can learn a lot about what's acceptable here, and also quite a bit about photography concepts in general.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen this happen:

Someone will post a photo for critique, and the feedback is "the light is really awful". The photographer says, "but that's how the light was that day! I can't change it". Inevitable reply: "well why'd you go shoot that day then?"

I'm sure it's happened to me too!
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
Topic Author
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 4:21 am

RE: Photographing Tips And Tricks

Fri Jul 06, 2012 5:02 am

Thanks so much for the advice everyone! Guess I just need all the practise i can get!!

Once again thanks for all of the input you've given

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