I concur

Message posted by JB737 on May 30, 2007 at 15:17:43 PST:

The angle on this one is similar enough that I can see how I caught the shot at almost the most confusing possible angle:

1. The outboard engine (almost?) completely blocks the view of the inboard engine.

2. The boom wing almost looks like an outboard engine on the left wing, until you realize that the left wing ends somewhere near the front of the vertical stabilizer, and that the pseudo-engine is "under" the left horizontal stabilizer.

3. The resolution/contrast must just not be good enough to see the forward spike on the vertical stabilizer. When I now look at the full-resolution original, the bright spike is marginally visible only if I move the picture back and forth! Otherwise it just looks like there are a couple of bright dots in the background, not what I was looking for when I assumed the spike would be darker than the background like the rest of the plane.

Anyway, this is neither the best nor worst pic I've ever taken of a plane passing by at 1000mph combined speed. If I'd known it was coming, I would have done better.

Technical details:

Nikon D70
El Cheapo 35-300mm hiking zoom f/slow-slower
Semi-clean, optically garbage plastic airliner window
April 5, 2007 12:50:42pm
280mm (420mm film equiv)
Set to Manual exposure, Manual focus
1/640 sec f/13 ISO 400

If I'd known the plane was coming, I would have used ISO 1600 to get something like f/22 1/800 sec

I was set at the lower ISO because I had been taking shots of the ground at shorter focal lengths. This was a small error for ground photography, but a large error for zooming in on a passing plane. For almost all airliner-window photography, it is best to jack the ISO all the way up and stop the lens way down plus get a fast shutter speed.

Anytime your physical aperture is over 5-10mm through an airliner window, resolution suffers much more than the added grain you get by going to higher ISO and closing the lens down. In this case, the aperture was almost 22mm diameter (280/13), and no airline window gives great results at that large a lens opening.

On the other side of the coin, if you use a miniscule opening (such as wide angle 35mm f/22 giving a 1.5mm opening) then you risk having glare spots on the window be almost in focus. Hence I normally recommend that you aim for about a 4mm opening until you get to long focal lengths, where I don't recommend going smaller than f/22 unless you know that your lens/extender combination performs well at a smaller opening, or until you get above 10mm opening. I violated my own normal guidelines due to not knowing I'd zoom long to catch the tanker.

Camcorders don't lose much effectiveness through airliner windows due to their physically small lenses, which in turn are due to their physically smaller sensors than an SLR. Plus they already don't have very good resolution, so it is hard to degrade it!


In Reply to: Again.... posted by Thud on May 30, 2007 at 13:26:40 PST:


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