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“The best way out is always through.”

Friday, December 26, 2008

Shoot Pictures Through Airplane Windows

There is nothing I love more than flying. I hate the security lines, the luggage shuffle (I love curbside check-in though) and the tiny seats, but I just love to sit back and fly somewhere--almost anywhere. And I love getting a window seat because I am absolutely fascinated by watching the clouds, the cities and towns and the geology below. I can easily sit there for five or six hours and never take my eyes away from the window. Naturally then, I like to take pictures of what I see.

Taking photos through an airplane window is very simple and while there aren't many choices to make about technqiue, there are some tricks to getting good quality. Even though the photos are obviously not as sharp as they could be since you're shooting through inch-thick glass, for example, you can help the sharpness by making sure your camera is selecting a high shutter speed (1/125 or faster is good) in the auto mode; if not, try bumping up the ISO one or two stops. Also, don't rest the camera right on the body of the plane or the window or the vibration will shake the camera; instead either hold it an inch or so away from the body or roll up a sweater to absorb the shock. To prevent reflections, turn off the overhead light and keep the camera as close to the glass as possible. If reflections are still a problem and you're traveling with a friend, try to coerce them into holding a dark airplane blanket or sweater behind the camera to block interior lights, etc. Also, check to see if the window is clean inside (they probably won't let you climb out on the wing to clean the outside) and if not, use a napkin to get smudges off.

There are lots of things to shoot from commercial airplane windows including geographic features (mountains and lakes look cool), rivers, sunrises and sunset and, of course, cloud formations. If you're obsessive like me, you can even take notes on what you think the features are that you're shooting and then look them up on a map later.

Taking photos from airplanes makes the times pass more quickly, I think, which can be a good or a bad thing!

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