Taking images from an airplane - any tips?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by RussJasper, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. RussJasper

    RussJasper TPF Noob!

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    A friend of mine is a pilot and was asked if he could take some photos of this womans farm from his plane. He asked me if I would take the shots for him with my camera if he flew it around.

    So I was wondering if anybody has done any types of photography like this and if so are there any tips you can lend me so I don't mess up and waste a lot of people's time and money. ie. lenses to use, settings, etc....

    What i am shooting with:

    Canon Rebel XS
    18-55 3.5-5.6 IS
    55-250 4-5.6 IS
    50mm 1.8
     
  2. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    I've taken pix from commercial jetliners and from a small plane. The biggest issue I've run into is reflection off the windows. I found that a polarizer helps with those. Dirty windows are a pain. Are you doing this from a big plane, or a small one where you might be able to open the window?

    Canon 30D/Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 through window of Cessna 182 near Mount McKinley. You can see reflections off the glass on the right side.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2009
  3. Plato

    Plato TPF Noob!

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    More years ago than I'm willing to admit, I'd rent a plane and a pilot so that I could take pictures. I would get a high-wing aircraft and take the passenger door off. That's about the only time that I really, really, really appreciated a seat belt! I doubt seriously if it's legal to do that now and I honestly don't know if it was legal then but I did get some good shots. Unfortunately, the negatives turned to doggy poo over the years.
     
  4. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep TPF Noob!

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    You need a long lens deppending on where the property is located. So your 55-250 will be the lens choice. Technically the pilot has to be 500' of any person or property. So, you would need to be at least 500' away from the house flying over. Since you mentioned farm, you might get away with lower (practicing emergency landings in a certain farmers field, wink wink, nudge, nudge).

    And a high wing will make it much easier. Any single engine cessna you can fly with the windows open. So, as long as its not too cold. You can open the window for the pictures.

    Basically to get the best shots. Its actually better to be turning away from your subject. Even though your in a high wing it may get in the way some. By turning away that will raise the wing and you will get a wider view. Also with a Cessna the main landing gear may get in the way so you may want to time the shot a little behind the plane. A shallow back of about 15 degress works pretty good. Gets the wing up and the gear not so much. You have to shoot back a little anyway so the wing strut not in the way. There are a couple high wings with no wing struts. But most have them.

    Have fun.
     
  5. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The single biggest tip is to keep your shutter speeds HIGH!!!!!! Not sre what plane you'll be flying in, but with stall speeds of 85 miles an hour and higher, you're going to be moving vary rapidly,and there is also vibration to worry about too. Image Stabilized lenses are very popular with those who shoot from aircraft.

    Consider 1/500 second to be the absolute slowest shutter speed to shoot at, with 1/800 better, and 1/1000 or faster even better. Elevate your ISO if needed,and if you're using a polarizer to suppress reflections from the aircraft's windows, you might very well consider ISO 640 to 800 to be a good starting point.

    I wouldn't do the fly over at noon,either...the light will be stronger around 2 PM or so, and you'll also get some slight shadow effects that will help delineate things on the ground.
     
  6. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    I have shot buildings from an open cockpit plane on one of my assignments. If you have not done much flying in a small plane I would strongly suggest travel sickness/nausea pills. Air sickness can really play havoc with your technique.

    As for shooting, if it is roughly mid day: morning or afternoon from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. you may have a haze problem. A good UV filter and a warming polarizer would be perfect. Otherwise adjust your camera colour temperature to the warmer area away from the blue. Try not to shoot through haze into the distance and keep your shots to the immediate general area below you. Avoid wide angle focal lengths because they flatten the scene and make everything very small. A 70mm to 300mm covers a good range depending on your height.

    At some airports, balloons are available and can make a great alternative to shooting from a plane, in that you can easily get to the ideal height for photography without contravening any airplane related flying restrictions.

    skieur
     
  7. Actor

    Actor TPF Noob!

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    That is why God gave us Kodachrome. Why did He let Kodak take it away? :(
     
  8. SalukiPilot4590

    SalukiPilot4590 TPF Noob!

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    Even better if you take out the securing screw and let the window "fly" fully open! :D
     
  9. sheltiefan

    sheltiefan TPF Noob!

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    1) Don't fly to the edge of space (....or you can just crop out the upper right edge of the window)

    2) Watch out for those psychadelic rainbows (....or you can be extra careful with those polarized filters shot thru acrylic):

    [​IMG]





    Just kidding...enjoy your flight and post the results!
     
  10. Plato

    Plato TPF Noob!

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    You're absolutely correct. I have Kodachrome slides nearly fifty years old that still look good. I now wish that I had used it more often than I did. Godansky and Mannes certainly knew what they were doing.
     
  11. RussJasper

    RussJasper TPF Noob!

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    Thanks guys, these are great tips! I don't know what kind of plane we will be flying but I will take pics of everything.

    Does anybody have some land picture examples of things they have shot from a plane with their camera?
     

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