Aerial Photography: Philippine Sceneries from Bird's Eye View

April 06, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Have you ever flown on a commercial flight or private plane by the window and wondered how to capture an image of something interesting that you are flying over? I never get bored sitting inside the plane when I see such amazing sceneries outside the window.  Well, just wanted to share some of my aerial photo collection taken in the Philippines using Fujifilm X-T1 / XF18-55mm. Also, some tips on how to capture interesting photos by the window. 

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Get a window seat near the front of the plane. Go online and book your seat in advance. Most airline online booking will show you were the seats are located. Try to get a window seat in front of the wing. This works well on larger planes, most smaller commercial planes reserve first-class and business class near the front. This area creates a smoother ride and you don't have the airplane wing to block your view. Another reason to have a seat before the wing section, is that the heat shimmer from the engines will affect the quality of the photo.

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Get your camera ready. Take your camera on the plane. Don't put it in the overhead area, this makes it difficult to get the camera since you are at a window seat and will have to ask two people to move. Tell the person next to you take you will be taking some photos as the plane is taking off. This will let the person know that you may be blocking his view for a few seconds. Set the speed of the camera at a high shutter speed, around 500 hundreds of a second. This will stop blurring of the photo. Set the ASA to around 250 to 400.

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Don't take your photos at an angle to the window. This will increase optical distortion from the windows. Stop reflection coming back into your pictures as noted below. It helps if you have a digital camera, so you can see your results and make adjustments during the beginning or landing part of the trip.

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Keep your lens close but not touching the window; vibration from the airplane will blur your shots. Take your photos quickly, the plane is moving quickly, if you see something that you find interesting, it may be out of view the time you raise and point your camera.

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Don't use flash photography. This will just reflect your flash back into your photo and it may scare your fellow passengers who may be first-time passengers on a plane flight.

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Use a standard lens or a zoom lens, like a 35mm to 105mm. This will allow you to get photos of planes on the tarmac and other photos as the plane takes off.

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Don't use a polarization filter. Plastic airplane windows will show odd patterns. When plastic is under strain it causes polarization of the material which will interfere with your polarizing filter. Without causing alarm, try shielding cabin lights and other window lights with a dark coat or cloth.

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TIPS:

  • Hold the camera lens close to the window. This will reduce the false readings of an auto-focus camera and will prevent the camera focusing on the window instead of the image outside the window. Better yet set if for mountain setting or focus at infinity.
  • Shoot early in the flight. Windows tend to ice up after a while.
  • Shoot both vertical photos and horizontal photos. Consider the composition of your image, look at patterns and shapes and how they affect the borders of your frame. Consider the rule of thirds when composing.
  • You have more time to take photos during the landing. The plane is moving more slowly as it reduces speed and follows a holding pattern when coming in.
  • Depending on the direction of your flight, one side of the plane may be in twilight and the other side glaringly bright. Having the light to the side or behind you if you can plan it. Book seats accordingly.
  • You should have some type of software program like LR at home to enhance your photo and remove unwanted marks that may be in your photo.

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WARNINGS:

  • Don't try taking photos during a turbulent flight. This may cause the camera to hit you in the face.
  • The restriction on using "portable electronic devices" during takeoff and landing applies to digital cameras on many airlines.
  • Follow all instructions by the captain or team member of that commercial flight.

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Travel Photographer PhilippinesArj MuñozTravel Photographer Philippines


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