Photographing Airplanes

4 tips you must know to shoot like a pro

A challenging and highly creative field of photography, aviation photography is anything but easy. At the same time, it is one of the most rewarding types of photography. Photographing those beasts in the air and on the field is an entirely different experience from other kinds of photography.

Most of us love photographing airplanes for the love we have for them. And, you cannot get a good photo unless you are in love with the subject matter. For many of us, airplanes represent power, strength, movement, height, engineering, freedom and most importantly, adventure. For all those photographers out there who are always intrigued by these mighty machines, and want to capture them in their full power, here are some basics to keep in mind.

How to photograph airplanes

Essentials of a Great Airplane Photo

Airplanes, like most of the other subjects photographers capture, come in all shapes and sizes. You can photograph them in various ways. From shooting their take-offs to their landing, cloud shots to close-ups, taxi shots to them just standing there in all their might, there are many options. While there are many different ways of capturing the photos of airplanes, most of the photographers are inclined towards taking landing and take-off shots. This is mostly because of the fact that you can see the most action in these scenes.

How to photograph airplanes at an airport

Equipment Needed

To shoot some amazing airplane photos, you will need a camera that works great in manual mode any good DSLR or Mirrorless will do the job. In addition, you need lenses that work for everything from the normal mode to the super-telephoto mode. This comes in handy when you are just too far away from the airplane to get a clear photo of it. For taxing, you can use a short zoom lens like 24-70mm. If you are photographing inside an airport, using a wide-lens can help you capture great photos.

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Shooting Landings and Take-Offs

Deciding the key moment during landings and take-offs depends on the personal preference of the photographer. However, in most cases, it is when the airplane just touches the ground when landing or when it lifts off its wheels during take-off. Thus, if you want to capture these moments, you need to position yourself about 1/3 part of the runway. It will take a long walk for you to reach there, but the shots you can get from there are worth the effort. Once you get to the place, be prepared. Keep checking your focus and keep taking those test shots. Check if you have set the right exposure in accordance with the lighting conditions. You need to be at a fast shutter speed. At least 1/1000 of a second. Take as many shots as you can. You can later pick the best one out of them and edit them to make the perfect photos.

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Know the Schedule

How do you know when it’s the best time to capture the photos of a particular airplane? It is simple. Keep up with the airport schedule, which is easily available on their website. This will give you the exact timings and the names of the airplanes about when they are going to land or take-off. Use this information to set your time and you will be able to capture some amazing shots.

Aviation photography, as mentioned earlier, is not as simple as it seems. You only have seconds to capture the moment before it passes away. Thus, you need to be prepared, not only with your gear but also your skills. Take as many shots as you can of the scene, whether it is landing, taking off or in mid-air, you will find at least some of the photos to be worth showing to the world.