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Thread: Airshow Advice?

  1. #1
    Harpo's Avatar
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    Airshow Advice?

    Ive attended airshows in the past with my P&S. Ive been looking at attending one with my DSLR now. Wanted to gather some best practices, tips or a cheat sheet to increase the chance of better pictures. Just found out this morning there is an airshow in my town starting this weekend! It wasn't listed in the airshow schedule when I started looking at them earlier this summer.

    Anyways, any advice related to photo taking in this venue to shorten my trial and error time? Weather is expected to be mostly sunny. Will include they typical airshow line up- flight demos and static displays. I will only have my 18-135mm IS lens to use.

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by Harpo; 19th August 2011 at 12:55 PM.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Airshow Advice?

    Mike

    Not my sort of shooting, so hopefully others more experienced will come in. But a sort of general comment ............

    Don't know how much control you will have over your position relative to all the action and, chiefly, the direction of light. But, where the sunlight is going to be relative to the position (s) that you're going to be standing in, is soemthing you need to assess when you get on site.

    For shots of aircraft in the sky - I don't know what your normal mode of shooting is (Av, Manual, etc). But you don't want to blow the sky if your shooting aircraft against it. So you need to know what sort of meter readings you get from the sky and set your exposure up accordingly. There are a number of good examples on here, but the current one is Dave Humphries' Spitfire MH434. Have a look at both the images Dave has posted in that thread. You ain't going to get them much better than that.

    Dave has posted the EXIF data underneath each one. Your lighting will, of course, be different. But his figures give you some sort of guideline for the way you should be thinking, if conditions are anything similar..

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    Harpo's Avatar
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    Re: Airshow Advice?

    Thanks Donald... Yes, Dave's Spitfire photo really looks good... Ill be at a mid sized counrty airport in Amish country, so I am hoping for shots like that. Considering I don't have the typical airshow photographers favorite 100-400mm lens, Im expecting the best chances for good photos from the static displays. Hopefully they will have as nice a back and foreground as Dave found!

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    Re: Airshow Advice?

    Hello Mike,
    Just a few tips from a semi-experienced air-show shooter.

    First up: - Have Fun.
    Prep: -
    Try and practice panning prior to the event. Suggest using traffic on the highway as targets – be careful to keep out of the drivers sight lines – we don't want you distracting someone and causing a crash. Remember to set the IS to Mode 2. If your lens has a focus distance limiter set that so that the close focus is restricted. Set continuous shooting mode. Set focus mode to AI or Intelligent AI. Shoot in bursts of 3-4 frames – try not to fill the buffer. Shoot RAW. Clean your camera sensor – you will be using very small apertures and those dust bunnies will be coming out of the woodwork. Take ALL the memory cards you have
    Statics: -
    Shoot as for buildings – watch out for reflective hot spots and converging verticals. Get in close – exaggerate perspective. Look out for abstract details.
    Flying Subjects: -
    Unless the light is very very poor, set ISO to 100. Use Tv mode (shutter speed priority). Use matrix metering mode – unless your more comfortable with spot / semi spot / whatever. For Jets start off at 1/1000th – 1/800th. Work your way down to a slower speed as you gain experience. A slower speed will give some background blur and a sense of speed. For Props and 'choppers set 1/250th, then work your way down. A slow speed is needed to avoid freezing the prop (s) and making the subject look like a plastic model. How low to go? Well, if the motor is running hard (e.g. takeoff) you should get a good “Maltese Cross” at about 1/160th and a full disk at about 1/80th – 1/60th. Full disk on the main rotor of a 'chopper needs about 1/10th (good luck with that!) Remember, pan – pan – pan – pan – pan. Did I say pan? Take LOADS of frames – the “keeper” rate is about 1% ish – but when you get it right it's very rewarding. My personal record is over 2K frames in five hours – and that's with a slow old 5d.
    Have Fun.
    When you have a week to spare take a look here (but don't be intimidated)
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/600984

    HTH

    Regards,

    Nick.

  5. #5
    Harpo's Avatar
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    Re: Airshow Advice?

    Went to the airport to see if I can get some practice shots prior to tomorrows airshow. Lucked out with one pilot practicing... Will have the sun at our backs and These were taken behind the fence. Tomorrow spectators will be allowed inside up to the yellow rope. I should be ok with my 18-135mm for this. Did not do any cropping to show what I was able to get at this lens length. Minor PP- need to adjust the EV when shooting tomorrow.

    I know the shutter speed was too fast for this prop plane. Other than that, any advice? Im not too happy with the sharpness.

    Airshow Advice?
    IMG_1910 by Michael VerVelde Photography, on Flickr

    Airshow Advice?
    IMG_1904 by Michael VerVelde Photography, on Flickr

    Airshow Advice?
    IMG_1896 by Michael VerVelde Photography, on Flickr

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Airshow Advice?

    Well done, Mike. That's given you a real heads-up on being prepared for tomorrow.

  7. #7
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    Re: Airshow Advice?

    Bump your ISO up and stop down. You have a big dSLR sensor, now! Fear not the high ISO settings! You do not need to be stuck at iso 100. High iso settings aren't just for low-light shooting. I'm routinely in the iso 400-1600 range when I go out shooting birds in sunny sunny San Diego (we're just north of the Mexican border) with my 400/5.6 to get my shutter speed up and to be able to stop down the lens. Also, you tend to get more noise from underexposure than you do from a higher ISO setting, so make sure you're correctly exposing.

    Shooting stopped down to f/8-f/11 will do two things for you: it'll increase your DoF so that autofocusing precisely won't be as critical, and it will improve the sharpness of your lens.

    Spot or center-weighted metering may be helpful. Servo AF will definitely be helpful. Also, highly recommend that you learn to shoot with both eyes open to give you a bit more help in terms of drawing a bead early.

    And, if you're really feeling ambitious, try back-button autofocus. And maybe renting a 100-400L.

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    Re: Airshow Advice?

    Mike, Great ! Your good to go. Just to clarify the reason I said to use ISO 100. If your taking pictures of the sky – with an aeroplane in it – one often has too much light as you go to lower shutter speeds for background or prop blur. So if your in Tv mode the camera sets smaller and smaller apertures and you end up with the diaphragm as small as it can get and the images over exposed. Also, at very small apertures the sensor dust becomes very visible.

    Regards,

    Nick.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Airshow Advice?

    Hi Mike,

    I always shoot aperture priority because;
    a) the precise problem Nick mentioned; I fear 'running out' of aperture, and
    b) as light varies, I get a selection of shutter speeds and it effectively 'brackets' for prop speed meaning some will be better than others - but if you set one speed, that's all you get if it turns out to be 'wrong', they are all wrong, and
    c) it avoids using those tiny apertures bringing dust bunnies with them

    I only have a 70-300mm, on a UK 'sunny intervals' kinda day, I found I was at 200 iso (Nikon base) and f/8 or f/11, which gave shutter speeds from 1/350 - 1/3000 against the sky. With landing planes, bringing a darker background, I'd definitely go to f/8 and 400iso to keep the shutter speed up - I didn't always succeed and lost some shots due to camera shake and subject movement (panning 'wobbles').

    It's just how it works for me well, most of the time

    Glad you liked the Spit' pics - there's another 3 now and more to come tomorrow.

    Good luck with your shooting.

    Cheers,

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