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Aviation photography primer

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Introduction and disclaimer

Before I even start, one important disclaimer: this article will not teach you how to make great photos, for the simple reason that it's not possible to write such one. You can learn this only by your own experience, trials and errors. Some lucky ones "just know" how to do it but they don't need any mentoring anyway. If you belong, stop reading now :-)

What I'll try to tell you instead is few hints on, what I call, "How to go to an airshow and bring some cool pictures" - with full understanding of the difference between "great photos" and "cool pictures".

Who am I to tell you all this? Check out my photos[external] and the "About" page :-) But keep in mind: not all the rules that I write about are strictly reflected in my pictures. Even some of the illustrating photos might make you wonder why the hell he used <thisorthat> mode if above he writes <thatorthis>??. Some of these ideas might be just good advices from my more experienced friends or simply the things that "I know but sometimes have trouble applying them".


This tutorial is logically split into four parts:

Final thoughts

Once you are through all this, you should be well prepared to mix into the crowd of fools with the long lenses. Remember: good photos come with practice. Don't be disappointed if your first photos will be blurry, with people's heads in the frame, some parts of the aircrafts cut... we've all been through this. Practice, practice, practice....

... and you might end up with some shots like this anyway: :-D [image]Asas de Portugal, Leuwarden (Netherlands), 2006
EOS 1D MkIIN, 100-400IS @400mm, f/14.0, 1/250s, ISO160, -1/3EV, shutter priority

Good luck!

Additional note

This article is a new, completely rewritten incarnation of my old aviation photography tutorial that was available at[external]. If you still have some links to the old one - update your bookmarks.

Last updated: 14-03-2010, 17:25