A rather typical thing I see when I’m out shooting, are people standing and walking around the subject. Basically staying eye level with whatever it is they are shooting. Now this isn’t a bad thing by any means but it can be limiting. For example, as I have been talking a lot about lately, these two Super Corsair’s Dad and I photographed down in Arizona about a week ago. This was a sunrise shoot at the hanger, the shots were taken with D3 and 70-200. The 70-200 was the lens of choice, it allowed for enough focal length to get the ends of both wing tips in the frame but also close enough to isolate the planes from background clutter. The top image is taken while laying down and the bottom image is taken 40ft up on a scissor lift.
I choose these shots specifically because they show a certain space to subject ratio. When lying down on the ground, which by the way the pavement at a hanger is covered with oil and dirt and tends to ruin clothes, I know cuz I’ve gone through a couple pairs of pants, the ground tends to fade away so less detail is noticeable and the sky becomes more prevalent. This is great when working with a great cloudy day. The opposite is true when looking down at something, more ground is in the frame and more detail is seen. The nice thing about looking down at the planes is that you can see more detail along the fuselage. Bad thing is if the ground is covered with gunk then it takes some more time in photoshop to remove it all. Depending on your work flow this may be problematic.
Now when ever you look up at a plane it always seems bigger and more powerful. Looking down everything seems a bit smaller, more condensed. Looking over the top is pretty cool though, you have a lot less background to deal with, which can be nice and provides a view that is seldom seen. Now there isn’t exactly a scissor lift or ladder every time I go out shooting but it’s certainly nice to use when it’s there. One last important thing to consider. When working with sunrise and sunsets opportunities the light is a key factor in angle. Both of the shots above are at sunset and the light creates a harsh shadow, one of which covers the plane. If you don’t want that in your shot then going high isn’t a great idea. Lastly, under the wing is always in shadow, at sunrise it’s manageable but if you want all the detail under the wing and above then your going to have to use HDR or a lot of post work. For any of you that have done HDR you know you need to be very steady or else ghosting starts to pop up. Standing on top of a ladder trying to do HDR doesn’t always work so well. This is just one of things to consider when your out shooting.
Images Captured with Nikon D3, 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film