Today’s photoessay is a series of images that is both a continuation of the dreamscape series and the result of spending far too much time on an aeroplane in the last few months – think of it as the fruit of doing a little homework before departure. Of course, shooting from a chartered helicopter is nice, but also not something undertaken without a client or access to a central bank’s vault – preferably from a country that’s still solvent.
Aerial photography through a window can bit a bit of potluck, but there are a couple of things you can do to maximise your chances:
- Clean the window – seems obvious…
- Up the shutter speed – moving aircraft are moving a lot faster than you think. We’re talking 1/5x-1/10x here.
- Avoid focal lengths that are too wide or too long; either way tends to resolve the imperfections in the window itself, or dirt on it. 24-85 is about the limit, realistically.
- You only get one chance at a shot, so I would suggest going a little wider and leaving yourself some room to trim if you’re not confident of perfect framing. It’s much harder to get the horizon flat than you might think, especially if the aircraft is banking or changing altitude.
- Avoid shooting at very shallow angles of incidence to the glass – this magnifies variations in thickness and both distortion and color filtration effects; perpendicular is best
- Shooting from a position behind the engines almost never works, because the hot air creates a difference in refractive index of the air, which in turn results in blurring.
- Fairly serious color correction is going to be required in post, mostly in the blue channel. This is partially due to the window itself,f and partly due to atmospheric attenuation (and related to the reason why the sky itself looks blue).
Don’t worry if your hit rate is low; but do keep shooting! MT
This series was shot with a Leica Q, Canon 5DSR and 40 STM, Nikon D810 and 85/1.8 G and processed with Photoshop Workflow II. You can also look over my shoulder at the way I postprocess in the Weekly Photoshop Workflow series.
Genting Highlands, Malaysia
Ultraprints from this series are available on request here
Visit the Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including workshop and Photoshop Workflow videos and the customized Email School of Photography. You can also support the site by purchasing from B&H and Amazon – thanks!
Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards. All rights reserved