Airplane Window

My blogging virginity ends today. I hung back in the marathon blogging pack while others drafted the headwind. I’ve been observing, thinking and strategizing. I’m excited to share things I’ve learned and observed along my road less traveled.  Welcome to:  HINDSIGHT

My blogging goals:

  • To teach and share photographic insights, and back-stories of projects and assignments.
  • To share news and issues that are important, or impactful to photography in general, with an emphasis on photojournalism.
  • To share valuable and significant projects from friends and colleagues along with personal projects I’m working on.

I love looking at interesting and provocative photographs, but my favorite blogs teach me something. So my first blog post will hopefully help others. (The first blog (below) is geared toward amateurs.)

The Airplane Window

My favorite thing to do when flying commercially is making photographs from my window seat. In the days of film, it was difficult to make high quality photographs through the double pained plastic airplane windows. Digital photography changed that with amazing exposure latitude and quick iso changes.  The fuzzy window effect can be reduced or eliminated in post and extreme bright and dark spaces can be brought back to reality, shooting in RAW mode. So give that  isle seat to somebody else and enjoy the gift outside your window.

My tips for shooting through an airplane window:

  1. Find a seat in front of the wings. Wings house the engines and the exhaust compromises visibility for those sitting behind the wing. I fly Southwest Airlines when possible because they seem to have the cleanest windows and the easiest way to get them. Paying the early boarding fee gives you a chance to scope out the cleanest windows in front of the wing. Seats are first boarded, first selection.
  2. Wear black or dark clothing because the window will reflect light objects. If you don’t have dark clothing, I suggest purchasing a lens skirt to block reflections.
  3. Put your lens directly on the plastic window. This helps eliminate reflections if you don’t have a “lens skirt”.
  4. When you find something interesting, experiment. Extra frames don’t cost extra $.
  5. I prefer shorter lenses at lower altitudes and rarely use anything beyond a 105mm. My favorite lens while flying is a 24-70mm  and a 35mm 1.4
    If you use a long lens, use one with vibration reduction (VR).
  6. Early morning and late evening light is the best for landscape photography in most situations. Try to book your flights during these times.
  7. Expose for the brightest part of the frame and shoot in RAW mode. It’s better to underexpose to preserve highlight detail. Digital photography is capable of making dark captures lighter but  blown highlights are not recoverable.
  8. The time during and just after takeoff and the landing-ish time,  provides more opportunity to use shorter lenses that incorporate foreground and background.

(As a side note, making aerial photographs through a plastic airplane window is NOT the best method and approach. The best way is by helicopter, small airplanes and drones. When shooting from a helicopter or airplane ask the pilot to take the door off.  Most seasoned pilots will do this.)

Here are some photos I  made through plastic airplane windows:

all photographs © Scott Goldsmith 2017

© Scott Goldsmith 2017

all photographs © Scott Goldsmith 2017

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