Our Companions and Equipment in Aviation Photography
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Our Companions and Equipment in Aviation Photography

Issue 3 - 2020
Our Companions and Equipment in Aviation Photography

In our previous article, we gave you an introduction to Aviation Photography. We discussed the definition of Aviation and Aviation Photography and mentioned what it means to whom and ideas about where to start this hobby. Now, we will try to get into some more technical details. It is useful to revisit one point we mentioned in our previous article before moving on to equipment selection. It is wise to make your selection of equipment in line with your budget. For this reason, we think it is helpful to choose equipment by measuring the enthusiasm within us and by recognizing our skills in this hobby. We should always remember that it is a person who takes the photo. As our number of shots increase and we compare the results, we will be able to see our needs more easily and make more optimal choices for ourselves as aviation photography enthusiasts. Learning about the capabilities & limits of our equipment In order for a snapshot to achieve a good result, the parameters that are inseparable and complement each other should be adjusted correctly. Our camera, lens, shutter speed, light, distance to the object, diaphragm setting, ISO setting, static state of the object, storage unit that we utilize, and supportive equipment are examples of these parameters. All these parameters affect the result that will occur after we press the shutter. Perhaps one of the most important of these parameters are the cameras we use and of course their capabilities. In order to fully comprehend this issue, it is helpful here to continue by sharing some examples. Selection of camera body Factors such as processor speed, physical ergonomics, menu ergonomics, auto focus point, resolution and number of shots per second are important in the camera body. In aviation photography, in order to capture the right moment in moving object shots, we should have a camera that has a high shooting speed and that the settings can be changed quickly, if necessary. High resolution, on the other hand, is essential in the moments when the details are so crucial in cropping especially since the object is not always in the position we dream of, and in the printing phase. The processor speed affects the speed of the process when all parameters come together, and we save the photo to the External or Device memory. A high-speed processor has an unquestionable significance in capturing “That Moment” where we take serial shots. Due to the fact that there are many different activities especially in Airshow activities, spotters force their physical conditions, like in long marathons, in order not to miss any moment. At this point, it would not be wrong to expect our cameras to make us as comfortable as possible. A camera that is around 2.5-3 kg with the lens can start to feel like 10 kg after 3-4 hours. At points where we cannot compromise from our lens, accordingly its weight, the body`s battery weight can ease the burden for us a bit. Selection of the lens Selection of the lens is among the top factors that affect sharpness in our shots. We can achieve very good results with our wide-angle (12-24 mm, 16-35 mm, 24-70 mm, etc.) lenses in the static display area, where the object is close to us, such as on the cabin or the cockpit. Even though aviation photography is generally perceived as a hobby with a tele-objective, great results can also be achieved in shots with wide-angle lenses. In cases where the distance varies and frequent lens replacement is not possible, we can consider medium tele-objective lenses. We recommend that the aperture ratio should not exceed ¼ (70-300 mm, 100-400 mm, 200-500 mm, 150-600 mm, etc.) if medium tele-objective lenses are used. Otherwise, the sharpness of our photo may not satisfy us, since our focal length increases. Let`s consider the 150-600mm lens that spotters mostly have. We can choose this lens in case there is a long distance between us and the object we shoot. Or, in other words we will have to adjust our position when we shoot an object with this lens. However, it may not always be the right choice to shoot from a long distance, for instance, when we take a photo of an aircraft on the runway from ground to ground, at midday, in wet air, the blur due to the water vapor between us and the aircraft will adversely affect the quality of our photograph. In this case, we can consider 2 alternatives. Firstly, using a wide-angle lens by approaching the object as close as possible, and secondly, taking a ground to air photo immediately after the aircraft`s takeoff. If our selectivity has increased in the subjects we will shoot after a certain number of shots, we can consider moving on to prime lenses to further improve our shooting quality and clarity. A prime lens (300 mm, 400 mm, 500 mm, 600 mm) can be preferred to shoot a moving object sharply and clearly from a long distance. Autofocus: The autofocus of our camera gains prominence, especially during the shooting of moving objects. In order to catch an object moving at 200 knots at the time of take-off, a camera having an effective autofocus feature that can capture our speed is required in addition to our experience and hand-eye-brain coordination. While the saturation and clarity of our snapshot can satisfy us in the shooting of commercial aircraft taking off at a speed of 200 knots with a camera having a medium format focus speed, we may not be able to provide sufficient clarity and will have a blurry frame for the aircraft making demonstration flights at high speeds. Autofocus is done through software on DSLR cameras. At this point, the number of autofocus points is important for the software to decide if the frame is sharp and clear. Storage units No matter how good our camera and lens are, it can be very difficult to capture the right moment of moving objects. At this point, just as in the production line of a factory, the photography cycle process should be processed completely and continue its cycle. Capturing “That Moment” is only possible with the timely recording of many unstoppable flowing moments. The choice of our memory card that we use at this point is the determining factor for us. Especially for high speed flights, it is possible to make a composition work only with the maximum write rate as well as all other parameters. A card having a high write rate can offer us more options with serial shots instead of the chance to capture "That Moment" in one shot. Monopod & Tripod This type of camera that is preferred for long distance shots and night shots with tele-objectives may have disadvantages along with its advantages. For this reason, it should be preferred according to the shooting conditions. For example, when we photograph an object at a distance with a tele-objective, a 1 cm shift flickering available at the point we stand will lead to the object not to position in our frame as we desire because of the distance, or it will cause it to be blurry and not satisfy us in terms of sharpness. In night shots, on the other hand, the selectivity of our camera will be on the light, especially among the dark objects. At this point flickering may cause light shifting and light trails, fixing our camera may be necessary in the 2 scenarios mentioned above. However, it should be known that the use of a tripod also has disadvantages. These include limiting our mobility and restricting our angle for dynamic shots. Especially in Airshows, it may restrict us in times when our speed is also important. The choice of using a tripod can vary from person to person depending on experience and habit. While some spotters can stabilize their body like tripod and do not need a tripod, some others can use a tripod like their body, and thus may not be affected by the above-mentioned disadvantages. Conclusion In this article, we touched on the capabilities and limits of our equipment related to spotting. In our next articles, we will be referring to the parameters we use in aviation photography and the preparation stages before spotting. The insight we share with you in line with our own experience puts a smile on our faces in our photos. We wish for you to get out there and capture shots that will leave a smile on your face as well


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