... ... 3 Tips for Making Good Aviation Photography Even Better – Runway02

3 Tips for Making Good Aviation Photography Even Better

My love of aviation goes further than watching planes land and take-off at the airport. I took a few aviation shots about 14 years ago when I went to the airport to watch planes. I never used to think about the type of aircraft, its registration or livery. I just enjoyed the sound of the planes and I was fascinated how something so heavy and large could get off the ground. The physics of flight really amazes me.

About 6 years ago I got serious about aviation photography and thought I would actually post my photos online. I started my Instagram account www.instagram.com/kiwi_flyer and I've never looked back.


I have learnt so much in that short time about what works and what doesn't in this genre of photography. It can be very hit and miss and it requires patience and lots of experimentation to come up with great shots, new ideas and angles.

I have uploaded some of my photos to Jetphotos but I find this very restrictive. I am a creative person and I like to put some of my own creative flair and style into my shots which don't work for Jetphotos. They like stock standard tightly cropped photos with no type of creative colour or creative cropping on them whatsoever. 


I love to experiment with different angles, crops and creative perspectives. But, each to their own and I can understand why stock standard shots are required for some websites. I'm guessing it is more of a standardized look they are after.

It's nice to put some creative flair on your images as you can only get the same aircraft shot so many times and then it's old. Coming up with new and imaginative ideas requires a bit of thinking but you will be rewarded in the end.


Try out these 3 tips for creative aviation photography


1. Go Wide:

Wide angle shots can produce some unusual images. They can be slightly odd looking, perspective wise. The wings can be elongated on the closest side to your viewpoint due to the nature of the wide angle lens. What's closer to the lens is elongated. This adds to the interest of the shot and puts a different spin on the image.


When using a wide-angle lens, you will need to be fairly close to your subject as otherwise you will end up with lots of open space and a very small aircraft in your shot. So get in close to go wide!!

2. Include interesting backgrounds:

When you include interesting backgrounds you give the viewer a perspective of where you are and a sense of the scene. I like to include the airport terminal, the control tower and sometimes the landing lights. Aircraft are often still relatively high in the air when they cross-over the landing lights so using a zoom lens for these types of shots works well.


Aircraft landing or taxiing past the terminal always make for interesting shots. You could even pan your shot to blur out the background but still make it recognisable. This adds more movement to the shot and a sense of speed.

Qantas - B737


3. Zoom in:

When you zoom in to an aircraft you are isolating pieces of the scene and drawing the viewer into an interesting part of the image. I like to zoom in for tail shots that show the livery and logo of the aircraft. I also like to zoom in to the cockpit to show the pilots taxiing for take-off too.


Take shots of the pilots waving out of the window if they are taxiing past. They don't always have the time to wave but often you will get a wave and if you can capture it on camera you will have a winner. These sort of images show pride and a sense of passion from the pilot. Current pilots often state they grew up as kids standing next to airport fences waving to pilots. 

Crop into the cockpit and be sure to include a little bit of the aircraft if you want to show the livery. Otherwise, don't be afraid to go in very close and show the cockpit windows which can look very dramatic.


In conclusion:

Try new angles, lenses and locations as you will always be rewarded when you look through your shots and realise you have a unique image. Include landing lights, the airport terminal, go in tight and shoot wide. You will end up with a library of creative photos.

Don't be afraid to break the rules!!

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