Photo taken by my brother who loves attending air shows
My brother should write this post since I am not an expert at attending air shows and taking photos and he is really good. Recently, Benjamin and I went with him to the Luke Air Force Air Base Show in Phoenix which was a blast from the past. My mom and dad used to take us to air shows all the time growing up. In fact, it’s no wonder why Blake loves them so much, look at him.
If you are planning on attending air shows this season or taking your little ones because they love these sort of things like most boys do, you may want to bring your camera along to take some pics and hang in their room. Here are a few tips from a gal who is not truly experienced in this and just giving you some off the cuff advice. I’ll let my brother comment on this post for more tips, I am certain he will have a lot to say about this.
Air show picture taking tips:
- Listen for the Photo Pass” opportunities. which you will hear on the speaker if you are close enough to hear is referred to when the aircraft passes low in front coming towards you. It’s the best time to take a photo of the plane – where you can get the top and side of the plane. Also…
- You want to see the top of the plane in air, not bottom or rear. So this means hoping the plane will turn or twist as it’s overhead. Also taking photos as the plane is coming at you, not in front, and not past.
- Set focus to auto focus/multi focus. You will not be able to center the plane as it’s flying through the air or do manual focus. Good luck, because I figured that one out quickly. Also against a clean open sky your camera will know what to focus on – the thing that’s moving.
- You may have to spray and pray. Terrible photography tip isn’t it? Well, if your’e shooting into the sun like I was, I couldn’t tell what the heck I was getting or where the planes were going so I just kept shooting. Whatever, the plane isn’t my client and it’s not paying me so I can give you this bad photography tip.
- Continuous shutter. During shows they pass through each other, twist, do this and that, so you don’t wan to miss it. Edit down later.
- Fast shutter speed. Obvi. Don’t forget to pan with the plane as it goes by.
- Bring a telephoto. Or your highest zoom lens and crop/edit later in post for the zoom effect.
- Let plane have “room” to fly into. Pay attention to composition so as your plane is heading into a direction, let it have some blue skies of space in front of it. This will make for a much better photo than centering it.
- Do not expect to get a pic of you and the plane. Unfortunately people (primarily old) are sitting under the wings for shade. If you want good pics, go early and be amongst the first to enter.
Additional tips from my brother:
- The best places to stand depend of the type of picture you are trying to get. For take-off and taxi, the best place to stand is as close to the airstrip as possible for an unhindered view. This however is not the best place to be when the aircraft are in the air as you are more likely to get pictures of the underside of the aircraft as it passes over you. A fair distance away with a zoom lens is best.
- If stadium seating is available, getting higher is better however the back row is not desirable as people in the last row tend to stand up blocking your views to your left and right. Seating one or two rows forward from the back is best. You can stay seated comfortably throughout the day, often resting your elbow on your knees to help stabilize that heavy zoom lens for the perfect shot.
Let’s look at some of my examples. First, I should tell you I did not use a telephoto and my most zoom was at 55mm. Weak! I should also tell you these were on my Sony NEX-5R (c/0) + 18-55mm (c/o). I knew I should bring a telephoto but I didn’t care so much so this is what I got most of the time:
I show this not to mislead you. I brought all my images into Lightroom and just cropped strategically as so, to get these images:
This is a great example of my spray and pray method – I had no idea what I was looking at because the sun was right in my camera. Decent though, right?
I could definitely zoom in more and not have so much sky space, but I think I like it cute and small in the air. Let’s be frank, if I took my 70-200mm f/2.8 and my Mark III, I’d be winning but for that day, I’m more than OK with these. He’s upside down!
Here’s one by Blake, with his Nikon (he had to go get Nikon just to be different than me, that’s just how it works):
Here is where continuous shutter speed with multi sensor focus comes in:
Ta-da! Ok, I don’t know what I’ll be doing with any of these images but thought I’d share them with you for your future air show trips! A few random tips – wear a hat, bring sunscreen, and expect once you think you are going to get to the destination, it’ll probably be another 90 minutes of getting there – traffic, parking, walking, etc. Just enjoy!
Diana Elizabeth remembered why she liked going when she was little, she had so much fun and ate lots of random food. Not good, just random.