Photographing airplanes can be one of the most challenging subjects available. However, when performed correctly, the photograph will be visually stunning and will and the airplane will be very clear.
Shutter Speed Decisions
Taking photos of an airplane often requires many forms of compromise. When you make one change to the camera, it will improve one aspect of the photo while ruining another aspect. For example, adjusting the shutter speed to make it faster will allow the photographer to stop the propeller, but will adversely affect the depth of field. However, with a slower shutter speed, the object will blur in the photo and will have a greater depth of field.
The best airplane shots result from the best lens zoom. The best zoom is a 30x, though some photographers cannot afford this zoom and will have to instead choose a lesser zoom. However, the higher the better. A tripod is also essential to make sure that the camera remains steady enough for the aircraft not to blur.
Photo by Tredowski
You will also want to get a better depth of field by having higher aperture settings that are between F15 and f22. This will slow down the shutter speed.
Choosing the ASA
An important factor to consider when shooting airplane photos is the exposure gap between the aperture and the shutter speed. Those who wish to take high-quality photos of fast subjects will need film that is of the right speed. Photographers will not necessarily need very fast film, since fast film can lead to graininess. Instead, the camera will generally want between 65 and 100 ASA, which provides a fast enough shutter speed to allow for a good depth of field. Having a shutter speed that is too fast will lead to a grainy image.
The key to improving the camera focus is to use center-point focusing. Normally, the camera will try to tweak the focus as it tries to locate something that is focusable. However, the camera will discover that nothing is focusable and will then try to focus on the camera. The best way to overcome this is to instead focus on the center using center-point focusing.
Adjusting Automatic Exposure
Automatic exposure can have a negative effect on the results of the image, since the camera will look at the entire image and try to expose it while turning the airplane into a black silhouette. One way to overcome this problem is to have the camera expose the image more brightly than what would otherwise. Another approach is to have the camera use center-weighted exposure or spot exposure, which causes the camera to focus on that which is located in the center.
Focusing the Camera
To take the best picture possible, fill the lens with the aircraft and place most of the sky in front of the airplane while placing the airplane near the end. Most airplane shots are the best when they mostly consist of the airplane and the sky, since any features tend to detract from the airplane. However, there are always exceptions to the rule.