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Monday, July 28, 2008

Crater Lake - Aerial photos from airliner window seat

You might think you need a small plane or a big budget to take interesting aerial photographs but that isn't true! Photos taken from the seat of any airliner, with a little planning, can yield spectacular results.
These photos of Crater Lake were taken from a right-side passenger window seat in front of the wing of a Horizon Air RJ Regional Jet on a flight from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest. It does require a little planning ahead to capture such shots, for example, having a window seat is very helpful, and a clean window is important too! You also want to sit in front of the wing, as far in front as possible to maximize opportunities to see the ground. Behind the wing can be interesting, but the wing will limit your view forward and if the aircraft has wing mounted engines the thrust and exhaust gases will distort the air, ruining a clean view of any object on the ground. Sitting over the wing renders ground shots useless, but interesting cloud shots can still be obtained!

Any digital camera will work, but the better ones allow you to set a lower ASA number and maximize the quality of the photo in terms of photo size which equates to more megabytes per image. A zoom lens is helpful but not necessary. Sometimes a wide angle will give more interesting shots encompassing sky and land, yet a telephoto, while allowing the appearance of closeups, can highlight haze in the atmosphere and is more inclined to pick up shaky vibrations which blur the shot.

Don't conserve shots! Shoot like crazy; it's digital, so after the opportunity has passed by the window, you can edit away the weaker images. Remember you are traveling at over 200 miles per hour so when you see look as far ahead of the plane as you can and when you see something that looks interesting get your camera ready and start taking pictures!

I could mention that while I was taking these images I was being served complimentary chilled northwest micro-brews, a unique and classy service on the last remaining civilized airline in the United States, but that would be an entirely different story!

onwards and upwards!

Rob Bremmer


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Julien said...

Inpressive photo... thanks for sharing! The trick with the low ASA setting seems to work wonders, I need to keep that in mind. Is the darkening of the sky a consequence of that? I find it great, almost makes the picture look like it was taken from space :-)