Aviation photography may not be as renowned as nature, travel, wildlife, fashion, or portrait photography. Nevertheless, it’s a rapidly-growing genre, which is now largely widely enjoyed by aviation enthusiasts. No surprise as airplanes are fascinating human inventions propelled by the incredible feat of flight! Nailing perfect photos of aircraft can be challenging, however, for both beginner and expert photos alike. Should you wish to try aviation photography, here are some of the best tips that can step up your photography game.
1. Start with air shows and museums.
Airports tend to be more crowded and active, making it hard to take photos and execute your desired shots. A good way to improve your aviation photography skills is by attending air shows or visiting museums. Often, photographing them in these sites is easy-peasy. You get to capture photos of both airplanes on the ground and ones on the wing. What’s great is that air shows and museums also provide opportunities for learning. You get to know more about the remarkable history of the aircraft – it’s always more fun to take photos of something you know at heart.
2. Find ideal positioning.
One of the most crucial aspects of excellent aviation photography is getting the ideal position. If you’re visiting an airport, museum, or air show that you know will be crowded, try to get in the location earlier before the crowd flocks the site. That way, you can find a good position or get closer to the runway, flight line, or subject, giving you a better chance of capturing stunning photographs.
3. Improve your panning skills.
Panning is perhaps a widely used skill in aviation photography. It is a technique employed to avoid blurry photos of aircraft in flight and rather take sharper, beautiful ones. To achieve this, you need to make the camera “think” that the airplane is not moving. It involves applying the proper camera-holding technique, locking on the subject, and moving the camera at the same pace or speed as the moving aircraft. Panning is hard for most, which is why you need to practice, practice, and practice to improve your skills in this aspect. Soon, you’ll be able to get the geist and execute it seamlessly.
4. Make use of light.
Proper lighting is the heart and soul of photography. While for some it may only mean darkness or brightness, lighting encompasses that as it also sets the mood, tone, atmosphere of your photograph. The best times to shoot are in the early morning, and late afternoon to evening, as aircraft are usually in flight during the in-between periods. Use all the lighting available, front, side, and back, to convey a story. Depending on your preference, you can use lighting to get a romantic photo, impart a sense of movement, create a powerful image, or simply showcase the entire magnificence of the aircraft.
5. Focus on the intricacies if you get closer to the aircraft.
Airplanes are fascinating to see up in the air, always making us ponder as we see them in the skies. Yet, they are also as exciting to see up close. Whenever you get the chance to get up close, explore around the plane and check all the intricate designs and parts. Afterward, seize the moment to capture all these into photos, as not all get the opportunity to do so. Some viable photography subjects include the aircrafts’ wings, engine, landing gear, cockpit, tail, and propeller.
6. Be creative with the angles.
Freedom is perhaps one of the best gifts of photography. So, be as creative as you can be. Veer away from the common side shots, which are typically used for aircraft documentation. Instead, experiment with different angles. If you need to get on your knees, lay on the ground, or climb an elevated platform, do it, have fun and be surprised with the unique results!
7. Scout and plan your shots.
Whether you’re visiting an airport, airshow, or museum, it’s advisable to scout the area and plan your shots a few days before your scheduled day. Observe the area and look for ideal positions and angles you can take, see the location of the sun or the lighting conditions, and ask whether there are regulations you need to comply with when taking photos. That way, you can be assured that you don’t miss anything and that you get the best shots possible.
8. Add life to your images.
We keep on stressing how airplanes are fascinating subjects for photography themselves. Yet, you can add life to your image by showing what is happening around the aircraft. Keep in mind that planes won’t fly without the pilots and crew, nor would they be able to keep their tip-top shape without the airport that serves as their shelter.
So, go beyond taking photos of aircraft along and capture all the actions. You can take photos while passengers are boarding or leaving, as inspectors are checking the planes, or as assigned personnel refuel the aircraft. Be sure to also capture the image showing the surroundings and highlight important elements in the airport. You can even take advantage of nature and use cityscapes, mountains, sea, and clouds as amazing backdrops that will help you transcend from generic airplane photos to more unique, awe-inspiring ones.
We hope these tips can be valuable in your future undertakings in aviation photography. Go ahead, take amazing photos and have fun!