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Aviation Photography

Learning Aviation Photography

Frankly, I’m disappointed about some (the most important?) of my Hiller Vertical Challenge 2008 Airshow pictures.

It was a great event again this year – but, unfortunately, my photos of the aerobatic Red Bull helicopter demonstration flight were shot with a bad setting on my camera. Call it “operator error”!

There’s a moral in here somewhere – that smart photographers have to constantly be thinking “what am I shooting – and how am I shooting it?” Here’s my sad story.

Just prior to the Red Bull aerobatic flight, I had been playing around with the Shutter Priority setting on my Canon 40D during the Showcopters flight. The Hiller Aviation Museum’s Vertical Challenge page linked to some tips for photographers that I had read prior to the show. Among other things, that article advocated using a slower shutter speed for some airshow photography to get a “blur” on the prop (or the rotor in the case of a helicopter!). So, I had been playing around with settings between 1/160 and 1/500 of a second. The rotor blur was great – when the subject itself wasn’t moving too quickly.

Unfortunately, when the Red Bull aerobatic routine started, I had to scoot around a building to get a good view – and completely forgot to put the Canon back on fully Program AE mode. As a result, the Red Bull shots were taken in Shutter Priority mode at 1/160 of a second – and, with my new big lens and my shaking arms pointed overhead, that combination led to just too much blur in most of those photos.

I’m sharing all of this to remind myself that you don’t let yourself get “behind the camera” in terms of ALWAYS knowing the camera settings while you’re shooting – and, that if if you do, you’ll end up sloppy in the photos and just a bit disappointed!

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