Photography Tips: Shooting Airplanes and Jets

Keen aircraft enthusiasts may need photography tips on shooting airplanes and jets for either personal enjoyment or commercial use. Airplanes and jets are fantastic topics for stock photographs, and they can also serve as excellent mementos after trips to an airshow. Whether you are planning to shoot jets or airplanes for your own collection or you intend to sell the pictures, follow these tips to get the best from your shots.

Tip 1 - Getting the Right Shot

Photographing objects in flight is very much like taking candid shots, so don't worry about getting your shots 100 percent perfect every time. Instead, concentrate upon the drama and be prepared to photograph anything that catches your eye, whether it is on the runway, or in the sky above. The ideal shot of an airplane or jet in flight would be directly overhead, so that the viewer can see all the details of the undercarriage, but a shot of the plane disappearing into the distance can also make a good stock photograph, for those who are shooting the airplanes professionally.

Tip 2 - Take Control

For any photograph involving airplanes and jets, you will need to have manual control over your camera's controls, particularly the aperture--which controls the amount of light hitting the lens--and the shutter speed, which controls how quickly the shutter closes during the taking of the photograph. A slow shutter speed will help you to capture movement and is particularly useful for panning. Slow shutter speed will allow you to capture the stream of smoke behind the airplane, while fast shutter speed will allow you to capture the jet mid-flight.

Tip 3 - Panning

Panning is a technique where the photographer uses a slow shutter speed, and then follows the direction of the moving object as it passes (in the case of an airplane, as it passes overhead). If done correctly, the object will be in focus, but any background will be blurred. In order to pan your shot, you will need to move the camera with the object. Be prepared to pivot your body, and keep the camera level in order to make the object of the picture level. This isn't always easy when taking photos of a moving object. In order to get the best from airplane photograph, practice panning on objects such as cars and animals before taking your technique to the airshow.

 Tip 4 - Obey the Rules

There are two rules of standard photography that will also stand you in good stead for photographing airplanes. The first rule is the Rule of Numbers: that is, the more airplanes and jets you photograph, the more likely you are to get a good picture.

The second rule is the Rule of Thirds, which divides the photograph into 3 seconds horizontally and 3 sections vertically. The objects in photographs work better if they are along one of these dividing lines. Asymmetrical photography generally gives a good appearance to even the most basic of photographs.

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