Most of us have at some point or the other tried photographing out of a plane window. While some may have been successful at making acceptable images, many are left wondering where they went wrong. We’ve put together a few tips to help you with this.
1. Use Manual Focus – When shooting through a plane window, remember that the window glass stands between your camera and your subject. AF systems can get ‘confused’ and focus on the glass instead of the outside. To avoid this, do switch to manual focus if your camera allows it. Most photo enthusiasts own DSLRs so this shouldn’t be a problem.
2. Shoot as Early as Possible – Flying at high altitudes results in condensation forming on the glass windows of a plane. While this can pose as an interesting subject you may wish to photograph as well, do try and get your regular images as soon as possible. Also, shortly after take-off, a plane usually banks to get its bearings on course. This in turn can present some unusual angles to photograph. The condensation may reduce during final approach when the aircraft is flying low, but you don’t want to have a camera in your hands on touchdown!
3. Wait for the Banking – As mentioned above, a plane usually banks shortly after take off. It does bank at other times as well though, so be ready with your camera in your hands for unusual photo opportunities. The world up there can change its face pretty quickly, and a banking airplane usually is all you need to capture something unusual. If you stick to photographing from plane windows you will soon realize that every flight can present you with all-new photo opportunities. The world is never quite the same every day!
4. DON’T Use the Flash – If your camera allows for manual override, switch your flash off. Flash light tends to create reflections on the glass windows, partially at least. So switch off the camera flash for cleaner images. In any case, nothing except a part of the airplane’s wing would be within the range limits of the flash. This is something that people sadly forget when shooting distant objects, be it a scene from a plane window or a rock concert for that matter. Flash light cannot travel that far and retain its intensity!
5. Look for the Fine Details – A good photographer needs to have that special eye for detail. Try and visualize your images before you even shoot them. Would a silhouette be the wisest choice of image? This works well specially when you DO NOT have a window seat. Unless you are flying at night, exposing for the background (the outside) will silhouette anything within the plane, in front of the window. Also, do make sure you get your exposure right. Do so by zooming into the sky/ground to take exposure readings. The camera could get fooled with the ambient light inside the plane, resulting in a burnt-out or over-exposed photograph.