ViewBug community member THREEWIRE-Images started doing aviation photography since around 2000, but more seriously in the last five years, here are 5 must read tips that will improve your aviation photography.


1) Practice smooth panning


Panning is a lot like a golf swing or swinging a baseball bat. You need to be balanced and adopt a motion you can repeat consistently. Analyze how you pan and try to eliminate wasted movement. Stay relaxed and keep your body loose. Tension will equate to camera shake and ultimately to a blurry photo. 


2) Use shutter priority


Try to use slow shutter speeds for propeller driven airplanes so the propeller is blurred (1/250th or less). Use faster shutter speeds (around 1/500th) for jets, but keep an eye on the aperture. If you end up shooting wide open all the time, slow down. Allowing yourself to operate two stops off maximum aperture will give you more leeway with depth of field, helping mitigate any focus errors. Ultimately, if you can’t shoot sharp images between 1/250th and 1/500th of a second, the flaw in likely in your panning technique, not your shutter speed (see tip 1).


3) Focusing


Learn how to use your autofocus system. There is no one “right” setup for shooting planes — it all depends on what works for you. Try different settings and see what works. Again, going back to tip 1, the smoother you pan, the easier time autofocus will have locking and tracking the subject.


4) Learn about the planes you’re shooting


The best action shooters anticipate action, they don’t react to it. You have to know and understand the planes your shooting almost as well as the pilots do. Learn the routines of the pilots you photograph at airshows. Understand how planes fly and you’ll be far more adept at capturing them.


5) Practice


In the digital age, there is no cost penalty to shooting as much as possible, so take advantage of that! Go to your local airport and shoot airliners or general aviation subjects or practice panning on cars on a highway. Often with aviation subjects, shot opportunities are fleeting. You have to be ready when the happen. Hone your skills on a regular basis so you’re ready when that prize-winning shot is right there for you!




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