Capture great high flying shots!

Look to the skies to capture dramatic action photos of fast-moving aircraft Air craft photography is a genre in its own right, and while single aircraft —whether on the ground or in flight —can make great subjects, airshow displays featuring formations of colourful planes twisting and swooping through the sky present some of the best opportunities for capturing truly spectacular images. If you want to try your hand at capturing these dramatic subjects, you ll need to find out when and where airshows are taking place. While you might have to travel some distance to the bigger events, there are plenty of smaller shows spread across the country throughout the summer. When youphotographing aircraft, using the right kit and shooting techniques will make it easier to capture the fast-moving action. To get close to airborne subjects a telephoto lens is a must, and for our shoot we used the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 on an EOS 7D. With the 7D1.6x crop-factor sensor, this meant the lens had an effective focal length of 320mm, and the extra telephoto reach certainly came in handy. If youusing a lens longer than 200mm, you should use a monopod for support —a monopod offers more flexibility of movement than a tripod, while still providing much better stability than hand-holding.

Aircraft photography

Finally, donposition yourself near any tall or overhead objects that may encroach on your field of view. You ll be annoyed if you pan the camera, only to find a lamppost has ruined your shot! Preparing for take-off Make sure that both you and your camera are ready to follow the fast-moving action Camera setup Set your camera to Aperture Priority (Av) mode. The lighting conditions can change quickly when yououtdoors, so start with the aperture at f/8, and open it up if you donhave enough light-we were shooting on an overcast day, so needed to open the aperture up to our lens s widest setting of f/4. Keep the ISO setting as low as possible, so you donget noise in the smooth tones of the sky. Start at around IS0200, and increase this if need be to enable you to use faster shutter speeds. Keep an eye on your shutter speed throughout the day; ideally you donwant it to drop below 1/1000 sec in order to capture sharp action shots. You may need to push the ISO to 800 if the light drops, but if you keep the aperture wide you should be able to stick with between 100 and 400 on a good day. AF on, IS off A telephoto lens will enable you to get close to the aerial action, and we were using the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4; this lens is versatile and light, which suited our needs as we were out shooting all day. Make sure the lens is switch to auto focus, and as you ll be using Continuous shooting mode switch the image stabilisation (IS) off, as this can slow down the lens. As long as the shutter speed is around 1/1000 sec or above you wonneed the IS enabled, but if the speed drops below this youneed to turn it on. Drive mode Youneed to set the drive mode to Continuous to fire off rapid bursts of shots. To access the Drive mode setting press the AF/Drive mode button (found on the top of your Canon D-SLR, or on one of the cross keys on the back, depending on the model) or use the Quick menu. On our 7D we selected the High-speed Continuous mode, which is capable of capturing a lightning-quick 8 fps (frames per second). Youfill your memory card up quickly when shooting at these speeds, so use the largest-capacity card you have, and pack plenty of spares. Keep your focus You ll find it easier to keep up with the action if you can fire the shutter without having to half-press the shutter button to set the focus. Set this up via the Custom Function settings —itunder C.Fn IV: Operation/Others and you can assign focusing to the * button, or in the case of our 7D, the AF-On button. This way, you can press * or AF-On with your thumb to pre-focus on your subject, then fire the shutter with your index finger. Set the autofocus to Al Servo, as this will enable you to track your moving subjects, and use Auto AF Point Selection to help focus on the fast-moving planes in your frame. The right stance Adopting the right stance and holding the camera correctly will make it easier to pan the camera and capture sharp shots. Keep your feet apart, so you can twist your body to track planes flying overhead without losing your balance, and keep your elbows apart and out so your body becomes a supportive frame for the camera. If you re shooting handheld rather than using a monopod, place one hand under the lens to keep it steady. Raw benefits Shoot in Raw, so that you can rescue as much data as possible at the editing stage if need be. It can be tricky to expose aerial scenes correctly, as the sky and planes will have different metering values. If itsunny you ll need to watch that the highlights donoverexpose and blow out; if ita grey and overcast day you ll be battling with noise issues and trying to keep the ISO as low as you can without compromising too much on image quality. Check the histogram regularly as you re shooting, and adjust your settings if youconsistently blowing the highlights. STEP BY STEP Enhance an aerial action shot Boost colours Open the masterclass_start.dng in Adobe Camera Raw. The image is a little underexposed, so increase Exposure by a stop to +1. Take boost the contrast and colours, increase Contrast to +70 and set Saturation to +10. Reduce the noise Zoom into the image and yousee that theresome luminance noise in the sky. To reduce this, click the Detail tab to access the Noise Reduction sliders, and set the Luminance slider to 50. This slider will also soften detail in your subjects, so you want to keep it to the minimum amount you can get away with. Crop in Next select the Crop tool, click and hold on the tool icon to open a menu of options and select the 2:3 aspect ratio. Draw out a crop to remove some of the empty sky and make the planes more prominent in the frame; make sure you leave some space for the left-hand plane to into’. Hit Enter to apply the crop, and click Open Image to bring the image into Elements.

Aircraft photography

Sponge tool Next wesubtly increase the saturation of the purple smoke trails (but not the red or green, as theysaturated enough). Select the Sponge tool, set Mode to Saturate and Flow 15, and brush over the purple smoke to boost its colour. Boost the contrast Now we re going to bring out the detail in the planes. To do this duplicate the ’layer and label the new layer . Press Ctrl+L to bring up Levels and set the Midtones slider to 1.17 and the Highlights slider to 224. Add a mask to hide the effect by going to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All. Make a selection Select each of the planes using the Quick Selection tool. Set the brush size to 10-15 pixels, and click and drag over each plane to paint a selection marquee. The selection will snap to contrasting edges, but if you select parts of the sky or smoke by mistake press Alt to switch to from Selection’mode, and paint over those areas to deselect them. Remove the Mask When all the planes are selected, target the mask by clicking its thumbnail, then go to Edit > Fill Selection. Choose White from the Use menu and click OK to fill the outlines of the planes with white and reveal the contrast boost. Press Ctrl+D to Deselect the selection, then tidy up the edges of the planes by painting on the mask with black and white brushes. Clone the smoke Next wetidy up the red smoke at the bottom-right of the image. Select the Clone Stamp tool, and Alt-click on the edge of the smoke trail about half-way up, where the smoke looks more even, to sample those pixels. Click and drag to clone these pixels over the messy area, taking care to align the edges of the smoke. Adjust the levels To boost the contrast in the image add a Levels adjustment layer, and move it between the ’and ’layers in the Layers panel. Set the Shadows slider to 30, the Midtones slider to 0.88 and the Highlights slider to 238. Add a Vignette To finish off we ll add a vignette to darken the light corners of the image and frame the planes. Select the ’layer and go to Filter > Correct Camera Distortion. Set the Vignette Amount slider to-20 and the Midpoint slider, which controls the size of the effect, to +40. Click OK to apply the effect. 3 tips for top gun action shots! How to capture great images of planes, both in the sky and on the ground 1. Action on the ground Take-offs and landings offer plenty of shooting opportunities. Planewheels can look good when they hit the runway, accompanied by a cloud of smoke. 2. Display shots At key moments in an aerial display, be sure to zoom out so thereenough space at the corners and edges of the frame for the planes to fit into. 3. Fast-moving targets Jet aircraft can be hard to photograph, as they fly by pretty quickly! Try to anticipate the space a plane is going to move into, so you can keep ahead of the action.
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