We’re lucky to live in one of the most photogenic places on the planet, but people around here also love to travel to far-flung places. And while a bird’s-eye view provides tremendous photographic opportunities, if you have ever tried to take photos from a plane you’ll know that an in-flight photo session can be quite challenging.
So, here are some tips to help you make the most of your next time up high:
1. Open Up. Set your camera to aperture priority and shoot wide open. This will reduce your depth of field and the chance that your device picks up unwanted window impurities. Shooting wide open will also increase your shutter speed, allowing for sharper images. For the same reasons, consider shooting with a wide-angle lens.
2. Reserve the Right Seat. Look up the aircraft diagram when booking and make sure you get a seat that offers an unobstructed view of the land below. Also, remember that heat from the exhaust causes blur.
3. Choose Your Subjects in Advance. Have a look at a map prior to booking to see on which side of the airplane the photogenic features might show up. Keep the position of the sun in mind so that you are not shooting into it.
4. Ask for Directions. Inquire about the flight path. Many of the best aerial shots are taken after takeoff or before landing. It may be worth asking from which direction the plane will depart the airport or approach the landing strip.
5. Use Manual Focus. The autofocus mechanism can get confused when shooting through a window. Make use of your manual focus.
6. Shoot Early. The buildup of ice crystals on the window as the flight progresses is a common problem. Make the most of the first hour of your flight!
7. Leave Out the Polarizer. The windows are probably already polarized. Unless you are looking for a psychedelic cross-polarized look, do not use your polarizer.
8. Clean Up! This may seem a bit strange, but consider bringing small amounts of cleaning supplies to make sure your window is as see-through as possible. You may get the odd funny look, but every little bit helps!
9. Be Discreet. Avoid pointing the camera towards the cabin and be aware that the sound of your shutter clicking might not put you in the good books with your seatmate. This is your chance to practice some sleuth-style photography.