Secrets To Taking Photos Of Your Plane In Flight - RC Groups
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Jan 10, 2007, 05:53 AM
Promoting Model Aviation...
Murocflyer's Avatar

Secrets To Taking Photos Of Your Plane In Flight

OK fellas, I see these fantastic in flight photos, what's the trick to it? I need to brief my photographer (my wife) on how to do it with the same results as I have seen posted here.

Of course it's with a digital camera so the lag time between pressing the button and the pitcure taking is making it tough.

Can you give a brief "how-to" take such good in flight pics please? Maybe I'm not the only one in the dark about it.


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Jan 10, 2007, 07:54 AM
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Andy W's Avatar
If you set a fixed focus and exposure, the shutter won't have any lag.
Jan 10, 2007, 07:55 AM
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Downwind 1's Avatar
Itís sort of like skeet shooting. I lead the plane with one eyes in the viewfinder and the other on the plane. Itís much easier shooting a picture of a plane coming at you, then a fast flyby in front of you. For fast moving subjects you need a high stutter speeds. And a lot depends on the camera you have. And how well you under stand it.
My camera will hold focus and the light reading when I hold the button half way down. So I focus at something in the distance first and told it. On a bright day.If youíre using auto. And shooting at the sky the plane will most likely be under exposed. That is, the sky will be bright and the plane will be too dark. So here is what I recommend , first focus halfway between the sky and tree line and hold it.
I use manual settings when I canít get the speeds or exposures I need. Try not to use too much telephoto as it will only get burly.
Last edited by Downwind 1; Jan 11, 2007 at 06:58 AM.
Jan 10, 2007, 08:41 AM
An itch?. Scratch build.
eflightray's Avatar
Discussion - Secrets To Taking Photos Of Your Plane In Flight

Learn to put the tx down and pick up the camera very quickly, and vice-versa

Try to get your wife to follow the model, but you call "Now", when you want the shot.

That way if anything goes wrong with the shot it's your fault, and she will still help, cook meals, clean, wash, iron, etc
Jan 10, 2007, 08:44 AM
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Majortomski's Avatar
Does your camera have a 'sports' mode? That takes instant and multiples.
Jan 10, 2007, 09:09 AM
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Pat Daily's Avatar
I shoot at maximum resolution and maximum zoom at a speed setting of 400. Sometimes, early in the morning or late afternoon, I will use a flash to help illuminate the underside of the model as it flys by.

If I am alone and flying one of my ships, I try to get the plane trimmed for a gentle circle about 20 feet high and try and shoot with one hand--this can be tricky and expensive! I am not always successful at this as you can imagine. Here is a recent example.
Jan 10, 2007, 12:31 PM
Registered User
Frank, the camera helps a lot. All the sugestions so far are excellent, but a good camera will make a lot of difference.

With digital I take a lot of shots,delete most of them.

But every so often I get a few good shots,framed and in focus.
I broke down and bought a good camera last year,now I can get far shots that look good.
Now I have more good shots than bad.
Here's a few that came out well.
Jan 10, 2007, 12:46 PM
Ascended Master
Sparky Paul's Avatar
Flying and photographing at the same time takes a fair amount of practice.
Some cameras aren't suited for it.
On my Fujis SLRs, I've epoxied a 1/4" tube to sight thru.. trying to see the plane in the viewfinder can be disorienting/dangerous.
With my Pentax *1st, I use the viewfinder, it's brighter than the Fuji.. but still disorienting and dangerous.
With flying planes, to get a reasonable image, a good tele magnification is needed.
6x is OK, 10x is better! And lots of megapixels.
Auto focus can help, but if the camera "sees" there's nothing to focus on, although you can see the plane in the viewfinder, sometimes it won't take the photo!
Manual focus can help.. some cameras don't have that.
Fortunately tossing a digital image costs nothing, unlike a paper print.
I got the Pentax last May, and have taken over 12,000 photos with it since.
The good ones I keep, the bad ones no one ever sees..
That, BTW, is one of the secrets of getting the reputation for being a good photographer. Never show the bad ones!
When you can get one like these... you're there! Both with a Fuji 5100.
Jan 10, 2007, 12:56 PM
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vintage1's Avatar
Originally Posted by murocflyer
OK fellas, I see these fantastic in flight photos, what's the trick to it?
On many, suspend the plane from a tree, set the motor spinning and take the picture.//then clone the background to get rid of the suspension wire.
Aerials hanging straight down are a dead giveway.

I used to do a lot of aircraft and even bird in flight photgraphy, and the one thing that worked for me was a rifle mount, plus a long fixed length lens - I have a 400mm sigma..or a 200 mm zoom, but the sigma is a shade better.. automatic aperture, a fast shutter speed (at least 1/100 maybe up to 1/500 or higher) and fast film. When shooting against a dark sky I'd boost the aperture a couple of notches.

GENERALLY you can work at either a fixed focus..set so that when the plane fills the screen you are in focus, or at infinity for full size stuff.

The trick is to follow the plane with the rifle mount, and get the pilot to come in closer and closer as you pan..once the model is pretty much filling the screen shoot. If you have a motorised or rapid shoot digital, shoot all the way..and |DO NOT STOP PANNING..there is a delay in all cameras. Pan past the point of shooting.

Trouble is I am pilot AND photographer in this household.
Jan 10, 2007, 02:13 PM
89" Kool Aid drinker.
Smash McCrash's Avatar
The biggest thing that I learned is to shoot it like you are shooting skeet... Follow through after you take the pic. Track the plane for a few seconds before and after the shot is taken.
Jan 10, 2007, 02:20 PM
No Guts No Glory
kestrel2003's Avatar

Get a good Lens

I agree with all the post so far. My pictures only become better with a good lens and a slr. The small digicams are good for pictures of slowflyers or planes on the ground but a SLR with different lenses is much better.

One tip is to try and constantly track the plane. A viewfinder is a must since the lcd is difficult to see in daylight. If there is no viewfinder make a loop from wire and attach it to the camera.

By playing around with the shutter speed you can either freeze the plane and background or get a more flowing dynamic picture. Mainly if you use digital instead of film, make as many pictures as possible and select them afterwards at home. That is no invitation not to try and be careful in every picture but a more pics give more selection later.

Not all planes look good from all aspects. Also the Background can add a lot to a picture.

Good luck on your images!

PS: never show the bad ones is a very good tip from Sparky Paul!
Jan 10, 2007, 02:30 PM
↓↘→ + (punch)
theKM's Avatar
SLR's are easier to get better results because you can track the plane easier. Digicams that have LCD viewfinders have a lag, and it makes it harder to consistently frame a good shot. My wife was really bad with a Panasonic DMZ-FZ10 that I had (lcd viewfinder), almost no usable shots. But with an SLR, she almost always got the plane dead center of the frame.

SLR's are great, but they are much harder on the wallet.
Jan 10, 2007, 05:33 PM
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Pat Daily's Avatar
Using an SLR one handed is damn near difficult. I like the digitals better for this. I am currently using a Canon with 7 megapixels which allows for a lot of enlargement. Tracking is the key--but that is hard to do with one handed shooting. You takes your chances but some shots come out. But then digitals photos are "free" as long as you don't crash the plane or drop the camera--then it gets a bit expensive. Don't ask how I know.
Jan 10, 2007, 05:43 PM
Registered User
I used to use SLRs but over recent years have had pretty good success with the Canon 'A' series A40, A95 and now A710IS. These have an optical viewfinder and so tracking the aircraft is easy and you do not 'lose' the model when taking the picture. They also seem to have a very short lag time on focusing. After trying alternative methods I now use the camera on automatic and you can see a sample result below taken just a few weeks ago. I'm telling the truth when I say all my results are similar. Just track the model, presss the shutter button to first position to aquire focus and the press again to take the photo.
Jan 10, 2007, 06:50 PM
Promoting Model Aviation...
Murocflyer's Avatar
Some great advice thanks! Also a bonus of some great in flight pics. I never tire of in flight pics.

I guess I shoud have mentioned I have a Olympus C-740 camera. I give those tips a try, well I should say, I'll suggest these to my wife and ask her to give them a try

Thanks again, and if they work out, I'll post them.


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