Monday, 11 April 2011

How to take a Photograph out of a Plane Window

Here’s a quick set of tips for those of us lucky enough to be taking a trip in a plane and wanting to get the classic ‘out of the window shot’ that often is featured early in a travel photo album.

One common mistake that people make with taking this shots is to put their camera’s lens right up against the glass of the plane window in the hope that it will help cut down on reflections and in the hope that it will steady their shot.

While it might help a little with reflections it generally does anything but steady the shot and will often usually increase camera shake’ due to the vibrations of the plane.

A better strategy, if you’re using a DSLR with a fitted lens, is to attach a lens hood to your lens and get in as close as you can to the window without actually touching it.

Alternatively, use your free hand to cup around the lens as much as you can to shield it from reflections.

Of course for high quality aerial shots you’ll want to shoot out an open window from an appropriate altitude – but then most of us are not in that league so the window seat on an airliner is our best option.

Here are five more tips that come to mind on photographing out a plane’s window:

1. Switch to Manual Focus
Quite often cameras get confused when shooting through glass (and on most planes its two or three scratched and marked sheets of glass). Switching to manual focussing mode and locking your focus on your main focal point can help a lot.

2. Shoot early in the Flight
Windows tend to ice up or get condensation on them once you’ve been flying for a longer period of time. Shoot early when you’re window is clearer and your shots will be better for it.

3. Be ready for the Plane Banking
It is difficult from an airliner to take shots of the ground (due to window size and the angles that are possible through them) but opportunities do present themselves for such shots on the few occasions that the plan banks before landing and after take off. The key is to be ready and to shoot fast as these moments don’t last long.

4. Turn off your Flash
For starters it’ll have no impact on your shot (its not strong enough to have an impact beyond a few meters) and secondly it’ll just cause reflections against the window.

5. Look for points of Interest
Sometimes the scenes out of plane windows seem quite spectacular to the eye but when you look at your photos they can be a little empty and un-inspirational. Look for a point of interest to bring your shot to life. It might be the wing or engine of the plane, it could be a cloud formation, another plane, a coastline, a change in the landscape below or a setting sun etc. It could even be something inside the plane.

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