What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby Pringles on Thu 09 Nov 2017, 5:42 pm

jalfrezi wrote:I think a good aviation photo comes down to three things - creativity/composition/opportunity - you don't necessarily need all three for a good shot but you'll need at least one, and a great shot will maybe need all three.

I completely agree! Personally speaking I've been to 2 nightshoots recently, and as my gear is sub-par and I knew I was in the company of some excellent technically capable photographers with top-notch gear, I tried to get shots that were more creative. I wanted to leave with some unique images that few or no one else will have captured, which is difficult at a small shoot like the TLE event at Wellesbourne etc - some out-of-the-box thinking was needed!

That's what makes a photo stand out to me, is when it's been carefully composed and/or has the photographer's own creative slant on it (not necessarily literally!) I will in that case probably look closer and follow the Flickr link to see the rest of that photographers' album. Personally, I'd flick through endless feeds with side-on shots from Lakenheath, but stop and look carefully at a well-composed GA/civvie aviation shot, despite where my interests lie.
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby Tommy on Thu 09 Nov 2017, 6:56 pm

Pringles wrote:
jalfrezi wrote:I tried to get shots that were more creative. I wanted to leave with some unique images that few or no one else will have captured, which is difficult at a small shoot like the TLE event at Wellesbourne etc - some out-of-the-box thinking was needed!


Always good to aim for.

But what people don't see are the 1000s of photos people take thinking they're "arty", and they're a pile of proverbial. I've got hundreds I thought at the time "yeeeeaaahhhh! This is gonna look great" and looked at it in Lr like :sick:

But I suppose that's the fun. When it works, boy does it work.

Signature style is a good point, too. You can always tell a "Hesja" photograph, for instance.
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby Pringles on Thu 09 Nov 2017, 7:31 pm

Tommy wrote:But what people don't see are the 1000s of photos people take thinking they're "arty", and they're a pile of proverbial. I've got hundreds I thought at the time "yeeeeaaahhhh! This is gonna look great" and looked at it in Lr like :sick:

But I suppose that's the fun. When it works, boy does it work.

Agreed, there's a lot of error in all that trialling! I certainly find it more gratifying though, to look at photos after an event and think "Yes, I doubt (m)any will have thought to do that/try this"

Tommy wrote: Signature style is a good point, too. You can always tell a "Hesja" photograph, for instance.

I find his efforts quite "marmite", and more often than not I feel like he's overdone various edits, however there's no denying his style is recogniseable and that he sometimes produces photos that are really quite magical
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby Dan O'Hagan on Sat 11 Nov 2017, 12:50 pm

"Signature style" is what marks out the really top-notch photographers from the masses. Hejsa's stuff, to my eye, is excellent. Reliant on heavy, but unique, post-processing, but a dramatic style that is all his own.

In the world of air-to-airs, you can spot a John Dibbs image a mile away. Creative, nuanced and considered. Compare that to a certain prolific UK air-to-air character who seems to have sewn up the historic market in the last few years - nothing more than technically proficient snaps by comparison. Air-to-air by numbers. No personal stamp on them (apart from the obligatory copyright that must appear everywhere).
Dan O'Hagan

Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby boff180 on Sat 11 Nov 2017, 8:13 pm

I think there are three types of photo’s...

A “record” shot which is a dirty side on or a front quarter shot of a stationary aircraft or an aircraft on approach for example.

A “technical” shot which has required a degree of skill and knowledge to pull off correctly both with a camera or in post processing. For example, obtaining full visible discs on a night shoot of moving prop or a puddle reflection shot.

Then the best type are the “story” shots that as I call them, tell a story. An action shot which isn’t just an aircraft frozen by fast shutters, the aircraft doing something unusual or a shot the captures what was happening at the time - nicely composed with the crowd interacting for example. As an example, I took these 3 shots at Wings Over Houston in 2012, I personally think they’re great example of a “story” type shot.

ImageF-22A Raptor - 01-4026 - USAF by -evansaviography-

ImageQF-4E Phantom II - 84-1627 - USAF by -evansaviography-

ImageQF-4E Phantom II - 84-1627 - USAF by -evansaviography-

Andy
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby alisdairanderson on Mon 13 Nov 2017, 1:41 pm

phreakf4 wrote:whilst my "betes noir" are the "tightly cropped and centrered "Airliners.net style of presentation


I'm glad someone else has this view... I thought it was just me!!!! (Not that any of my shots are 'arty', but the 'centred' aspect just looks all wrong to my eye...)


Cheers
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby capercaillie on Mon 13 Nov 2017, 2:27 pm

Andy, personally I'd call those "got up to late and missed a spot at the front" type shots and be really miffed at having lots of people in my perfectly lit Phantom pictures. :mad: :whistle: :wink:
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby boff180 on Mon 13 Nov 2017, 3:25 pm

capercaillie wrote:Andy, personally I'd call those "got up to late and missed a spot at the front" type shots and be really miffed at having lots of people in my perfectly lit Phantom pictures. :mad: :whistle: :wink:


Lol was taken 10ft up from the elevated media enclosure ;-)

Could have used the cherry picker we had access to in order to get a clearer shot ;-)
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby Brevet Cable on Mon 13 Nov 2017, 3:39 pm

capercaillie wrote:Andy, personally I'd call those "got up to late and missed a spot at the front" type shots and be really miffed at having lots of people in my perfectly lit Phantom pictures. :mad: :whistle: :wink:

As opposed to the PlanesTV type shot, where you'd have the crowd but no aircraft..... :wink:
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby Ian G on Tue 14 Nov 2017, 8:48 pm

Interesting thread and fascinating to read all the comments. I've been asked to give a talk on some of my recent photography work at a camera club near me which came right out of the blue. In preparation for this, I've been going through my entire digital photography collection and I've astounded myself at what utter dross I've taken over the years that at the time, I thought was good! I think back to the time when I thought vignettes looked good on everything..... :clown:

I think that no matter what the picture is of, you always need the basics - composition, focus and correct exposure. What I want to try and achieve is a shot - or a careful edit - of a shot that nobody else will have. I've given several examples of this in my talk with different edits or crops of one main image. When I process images in lightroom, it's easy to get carried away on a particular shot - if I see potential I'll tend to create several copies and experiment with tone, desaturation, clarity, split toning, cropping etc. From one image I might end up with 3 or 4 if it's good enough. However, I won't always bung the whole lot on Flickr or Facebook - maybe just the one that has most impact. If I'm at an event like a nightshoot or photocall rather than an airshow, then I'll treat it differently and try and experiment a bit more to get a more unusual shot rather than a record shot of an aircraft. Things like getting low down, a bit of grass in the foreground, low aperture etc.

Desaturation can sometimes have a dramatic effect on an image, much more so than in full colour - but it has to be done right - there's more to it than putting the slider to 0! I used to work with someone takes photos of steam trains but thinks that this is all it takes to make a BW image - they turn out to be pictures containing several shades of light to mid grey with no contrast, clarity or depth. On the other end of the spectrum, I've seen images on Facebook from people who are doing the 7-day BW challenge that appears to be doing the rounds at the moment and some of them are as black as Newgate's knocker!

Sometimes you just know it's creating the right impact. I was quite surprised and pretty astonished that my image of the Phantom at the Navy Wings shoot (below) was viewed almost 13,000 times with 150-odd retweets and 40-odd likes (did I go viral?!). I'm not normally a fan of the wonky angles but it just seemed to come together with the lighting and slight desaturation. When I compare it to the full colour version without wonkiness, it beats it a mile down.

Image
Phabulous by Ian Garfield, on Flickr

I never used to like cropping on an angle but on the right picture, it can have such an effect and alter the image completely. What I absolutely abhor is overprocessing - whether it's oversaturation or halos from adjusting the shadows or highlights too much. I remember seeing an image of an F-15 through Cad West earlier in the year with a well over-saturated background of sunset-coloured clouds. It was hideous yet many loved it!!

Where do we stand on things like prop blur, out of interest? Is it one of the golden rules of aviation photography?!
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby Tommy on Tue 14 Nov 2017, 9:18 pm

Ian G wrote:Where do we stand on things like prop blur, out of interest? Is it one of the golden rules of aviation photography?!


Props and rotors look wrong without it, but I'm not one of those "I must get full-discs" kind of blokes. Full-discs make it so you don't really see the props that well & can look as unrealistic as frozen props.

No reason why a happy medium can't be reached, IMO.
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby hmeasures on Tue 14 Nov 2017, 9:47 pm

Tommy wrote:
Ian G wrote:Where do we stand on things like prop blur, out of interest? Is it one of the golden rules of aviation photography?!


Props and rotors look wrong without it, but I'm not one of those "I must get full-discs" kind of blokes. Full-discs make it so you don't really see the props that well & can look as unrealistic as frozen props.

No reason why a happy medium can't be reached, IMO.


I'd echo this - Although it's great having a shot so sharp you can Hamilton Standard, if it's a flying shot then it just looks like the aircraft has had an engine failure. That said, I find too much prop blur fairly meh unless it's a ground shot - Not to say I don't appreciate the skill (or luck!) but it just doesn't float my boat.

In a wider sense I tend to like pictures that have a bit of context or background to them - to extend on this I really quite enjoy doing candid portraits and am quite lucky in the sense that I often have the opportunity to so in an aviation environment. It's the people that make the photo in my opinion.

ImageRNHF Sea Fury T.20/Chirs Gotke by Harry Measures, on Flickr

ImagePatrice Marchi/Gladiator by Harry Measures, on Flickr

Of course I always enjoy seeing good, technically correct images but I'll always be more impressed with creative images than sunlit topsides - nothing wrong with the latter of course. Oh, and I'm a bugger for funny crops!

ImageDid Someone Say Hurricane?! by Harry Measures, on Flickr
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby 58Hustler on Wed 15 Nov 2017, 11:19 am

OK here's my two penneth worth.
OP asks what makes a 'good' aviation photo.I might be being pedantic here but I think there is a veritable gulf between a good aviation photo and a 'great' one.
I have amassed several that I consider to be 'good' but have not yet taken an outstanding one.It is the search for this that makes our hobby (or indeed,job) so appealing.
What you do need is a sharp (subjective) shot in good light of an interesting subject and a sense of context.Also,bear in mind that when you are at Lakenheath with the hoards you are going to get lots of picture of grey jets just like everyone else.Yes,some will have 600f4s and you may not,but it takes more than that.
I think it's also worthy of note that if you happen to catch a badly exposed,slightly soft picture of an Indonesian SU-30 with an engine fire taking the wire at sunset then you won't delete it! Subject matter counts.
Sorry to wax lyrical,just my opinion.
Few of my faves,regards,Jay.

ImageChilton DW-1a by Jayson Cork, on Flickr


ImageTiger Moth by Jayson Cork, on Flickr



ImageViggen re-edit by Jayson Cork, on Flickr


ImageStrike Eagle at Sunset by Jayson Cork, on Flickr
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby wallace on Wed 15 Nov 2017, 6:05 pm

I don't know this guy "hjetsa" or whatever, is anyone care to give a link to his stuff?

Air to air shots are so specialised that it is only the fortunate few that can achieve them or afford them. I'm in admiration of those that consistently come away with the goods especially of fast jets, which is out of the domain of the common man and into the realm of the lucky/fortunate/service cameraman.

The mention of a Camera Club presentation was interesting as I find that the aircraft images usually score low marks, the technical achievements being overlooked by the judges... and you think A.nut screeners are tough!

We as photographers are conditioned into the A.nut way of thinking, which to a very large extent is wrong, focusing upon the aircraft and only the aircraft within a tight range of conditions. I broke free of that way of thinking and done my own thing, free of the convention that binds so many of our numbers, having first checked the all of the manuals that came with my cameras and there was nothing in them that said aircraft must be side-on, close cropped and centered, so I guess I was OK to develop my own style.

As an aside I saw a thumbnail in an aviation flying exams web site and immediately recognised the style of the photographer from all the other thumbnails - mine!
So a personal style does have its uses.

This is without doubt a fascinating thread to follow.
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby TonyB on Wed 15 Nov 2017, 6:34 pm

wallace wrote:I don't know this guy "hjetsa" or whatever, is anyone care to give a link to his stuff?



http://www.hesja.pl/
TonyB

Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby wallace on Wed 15 Nov 2017, 10:56 pm

Lots of nice pictures with a graphic, low contrast at times style.
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby MC hammer on Wed 15 Nov 2017, 11:38 pm

It's good that people get what they want from their picture taking, whatever their style and methods may be.

However, I feel that the question that heads this topic has encouraged those that have, perhaps, a bit more creativity about them to respond, with various somewhat detrimental references to the boring record/side on shot, or getting the same shots as everyone else. Very often, that is exactly the type of shot I want, with my interest leaning towards unit markings or anything else about an aircraft's colour scheme or appearance that makes it even slightly different from all of it's fellow mates. I would rather get a standard taxiing shot at Mildenhall of one of the very few of the thirty odd KC-135 operating units that have eluded me in recent years, than a more dynamic shot of one of the based tankers.

That said, I do still give much thought on how to get my shots, preferring uncluttered/non distracting backgrounds, unless it's stunning scenery of course, so I'm more likely to go for a dark tree lined background, rather than buildings, other aircraft in the way or airfield furniture, like the red and white ILS landing aids, where possible. Also no people, even if they do create a bit of context or a story. Static shots at shows are almost non existent for me.

Other things to consider, off the top of my head, are angles that allow the markings to be seen and not obstructed by the wings for example, and when a landing aircraft is best lit, where the sun doesn't bounce back towards the camera, therefore reducing glare, especially around the cockpit. There are other things that make a picture a bit different, smoking tyres on landing will be more pleasing to me on a Lakenheath F-15, so there is some creativity to be had, even if otherwise it looks the same as all the other Eagles there. And I would certainly like a crack at the Mach Loop, if only it were closer to home.

Perhaps a good way to make my point would be take a look at the "Golden Oldies" section, where I feel that the fondly remembered aircraft, colour schemes and squadron markings from days gone by, that we will never see again, are well represented by the record type shot, rather than a head on or quirky angled shot. I'm certainly glad most of my shots from the seventies and eighties allow the aircraft to be seen in all it's splendour.

I might be in the minority here, maybe if I had a 600mm lens and more time to get out and about, I would experiment more and get more creative, particularly with airshow flying shots.
MC hammer

Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby cg_341 on Thu 16 Nov 2017, 8:52 am

I'd rather see a blurry photo of a Ugandan Sukhoi than a pin-sharp Lakenheath F-15 or RAF Typhoon...
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby Airwolfhound on Thu 16 Nov 2017, 1:08 pm

Brevet Cable wrote:Nowt wrong with the wing-clipping in that image as far as I'm concerned.

Nicked from Wiki, this is the sort of clipping that I don't like :
Image


Hahahahahahahahahaha :-)

I've just noticed that this is actually my photo :lol: :lol: Wiki often use my pics for things :lol:

Totally understand why I clipped off that wing, I wanted to get rid of the other Red Arrow that had crept into the image and couldn't be bothered with the cloning. In this instance it made perfect sense to clip the wing and so totally acceptable :wink: :wink:

A link to my original shot from Flickr :-

https://www.flickr.com/photos/24874528@ ... HD2-cCWj4f
https://www.flickr.com/photos/24874528@N04/

Agile, mobile and hostile ;-)
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby cg_341 on Thu 16 Nov 2017, 4:04 pm

Airwolfhound wrote:Wiki often use my pics for things :lol:

Well that happens when all your photos are CC BY-SA ;)
cg_341

Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby Airwolfhound on Thu 16 Nov 2017, 4:20 pm

cg_341 wrote:
Airwolfhound wrote:Wiki often use my pics for things :lol:

Well that happens when all your photos are CC BY-SA ;)


Which is why I do it :smile:

Not precious with my photos, not after payment, and if people piggy back off them then good luck to them :smile: I can't quite remember all the legal mumbo-jumbo, but as long as a link to the original image to my Flickr account, or a credit is given, then the photo can be used for any purpose, even manipulated to meet the end-users need. For me, photography is a hobby, not a reason to make a fast buck. Anyway, thread drift for which I apologise :oops:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/24874528@N04/

Agile, mobile and hostile ;-)
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby wallace on Thu 16 Nov 2017, 10:17 pm

Discovered this guy via the Petapixel web site, he doesn't half think outside the box
http://mikekelley.art/
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby wallace on Fri 17 Nov 2017, 9:55 am

jingernut wrote:The stacked arrival / departure shots are amazing.


They are creative and impressive but not technically impossible for anyone with photoshop skills to do. It took me a while to figure out how to realise how to translate vision in Photoshop and now it is ridiculously easy.
This was along a similar theme showing the relative climb rates of three types of aircraft. I should really return to this and reshoot it with more aircraft.
Image

I do appreciate his creative vision
This appeared in Petapixel
https://petapixel.com/2017/11/16/photos ... ife-death/

I noticed this, while searching for the above thumbnail, my first thought was ...what! Then I thought, well seen, there's many that would have considered this an epic fail. It brings a smile to ones face on a dreich Friday morning.

Image
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Re: What makes a "good" aviation photograph?

Postby capercaillie on Fri 17 Nov 2017, 10:10 am

$650 for a close up of an undercarriage bay - OK :hypno: :whistle:
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