- - I think the single most important factor in terms of equipment is to get a stable tripod. I've read that you can spend the money up front, or you can spend it later after wasting it on cheap tripods, and I agree. With a stable platform, you can get the sharpness you need. Without it, you won't decent results from a 1DX with a 200-400 mounted. For this, you'll need a remote shutter release of some sort so you will not shake the tripod. Mirror lockup also helps, and turn off image stabilization on the lens.
- - For the camera, I've been able to get good images from the Canon 7D, 70D as well as the 5D Mark III. You can get the images faster with full frame without noise impacting the image, but many of the captures from IAH were made with the crop sensors and are spectacular.
- - I shoot my ramp shots in aperture mode. I use aperture mode because each lens will give a different star pattern profile at various apertures on the beacons and landing lights, and I'll choose a favorable aperture to give the desired effect with the time I have.
- - I set the ISO manually based on the amount of time I want the exposure to take. For the crops, you have to stay relatively low and must be prepared to take up to 20 - 30 seconds in some cases to get the image. For full frame, I can go significantly higher in the ISO with less noise allowing a reduced exposure. If given a choice, I'll take the lower ISO and longer exposure, but that's not always possible.
- - You need to know your camera inside and out and be able to adjust as needed without removing your eyes from the viewfinder. If you are shooting in the dark, and the aircraft has just paused on the way to the gate giving you 20 seconds to get a shot, you can't afford to spend that time fumbling with the camera controls.
Just a general comment that may be of interest to many as I saw it discussed a few months back is that I've been able to get decent shots with the Tamron 150-600. This one is one taken with that lens that has been accepted to the database:
Photo © GFB
The 737 and ERJ-145 simultaneous takeoff image that was accepted today was also taken with this lens.
I hope this does help, and I look forward to seeing what other input the community has regarding this technique.>