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Author Topic: Unwritten Rules  (Read 1140 times)
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Joe Copalman
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« on: May 14, 2017, 12:51:45 AM »

My friend Nick and I were just talking about little unwritten rules we have for ourselves as aviation photographers.  Scott Youmans and I have talked about this before as well, and one of his was that he didn't like shooting front-quarter shots where the nose gear eclipses one of the main gear.  I didn't really think I had that many rules like this, but talking with Nick, I was kind of surprised by how hard I ride myself on certain things.

What are some of your 'unwritten rules?'  I'm not talking the 'cultural' things that most aviation photographers adhere to (no 'propsicles' is one that comes to mind), but more the personal things. 

Here are a few of mine off the top of my head:

-As a general rule, no glare.  Sometimes it's impossible to get a shot under the conditions you're given without glare, but I typically do everything within my power (usually moving) to limit or (hopefully) eliminate it.

-No rotor shadow on the cockpit/canopy of a helicopter, UNLESS that shadow is masking a glare spot.

-No flash or lights behind landing gear for night shots unless the top of the aircraft is already sufficiently lit.  One of my biggest pet peeves actually, as it makes the ground underneath the subject the brightest part of the image, drawing the eye there and making the actual subject compete for your attention.  If the aircraft itself is well-lit with equal or greater intensity, game on, it can look fantastic and add tons of drama to an image.  But very few shooters achieve that.  Best to take those extra lights and light your actual subject with them.

-No taxiway signs or other airfield 'spam' unless they are an obvious primary or secondary subject in an image. 

-Another helicopter one, I hardly ever include the full span of the rotor blades because they throw the balance off in the image, at least to my eyes.

-If shooting air-to-air, no 'fourth-wall' breaks - no shadows of the photoship on the subject aircraft, no photoship wingtips or anything like that in the image, unless it tells a story.

-For prop aircraft shot from the ground, aim for a shutter speed that gives acceptable prop blur while maximizing opportunities for nose-to-tail sharpness at oblique angles.  Full discs are great, but when they come at the expense of the rear half of the fuselage being a smeared smudge, those shots go straight to the  recycle bin. 

-This one isn't all that specific, but I'm really particular about wingtips covering the tail in shots from the ground - the only hard-and-fast rule in this regard is that a wing covering the tip of the tail is a no-go for me.  Crossing the tail below the tip or being totally clear of the tail are both fine, but that in between zone with the top of the tail is blocked by the wing is a total no-go for me.

Those are all the ones I can think of now.  Most of these aren't so much creative rules as they are quality-control, but it's still interesting to see how many limits I place on myself without ever really thinking about it.




 

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Joe Copalman
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« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2017, 07:10:13 PM »

That's a fairly comprehensive and detailed list there Joe!  Grin

For me, it's landing gear (and doors) not fully extended or retracted. Maybe because I once had to (chose to - the "book" was clear and said to eject Shocked) land a T-38 with a structural gear failure resulting in an unsafe partial extension of the right main landing gear. It worked out - landed in a crab with a stiff crosswind that held the gear in place. I avoided the nylon let-down, and saved an airframe (which later ended up in the boneyard.) ~ But, I very rarely finish any of my images where the gear is in transit - unless it's the only shot to use or is the subject.
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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2017, 01:43:06 AM »

I guess the only two I really sweat are:
- No Propcicles (to the extent that I can get a sharp subject.  Better to get "ok" blur and a sharp plane than a full disk on a blurry mess)
- Be aware of glare (the dreaded 40th St "Bling" comes to mind when they're landing east to west in the late afternoon) but in A2A, any sun angle can work.

Beyond these two, it's pretty much a case of trying to put as much lipstick on whatever pig I'm given.

If I have one overriding creative preference, at least for G2A shots, it would be that I prefer front quartering shots to side elevations.  I like how the line from nose to tail fits on a bias instead of in a straight linear fashion.  I think it fits the frame better.

With me, it's usually all a feel thing.  I don't like to have too many thoughts rattling around in my head.  It's like a golfer who has so many swing keys going on, that he forgets to hit the ball.
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Matt Ottosen
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2017, 09:16:38 PM »

You guys have mentioned a lot that I completely agree with, but one of my biggest ones is power lines and telephone poles.  Sometimes I'll let a few slide, but most of the time I just can't stand them and I will do everything I can to either eliminate them or junk the photo.
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« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2017, 03:49:17 PM »

You guys have mentioned a lot that I completely agree with, but one of my biggest ones is power lines and telephone poles.  Sometimes I'll let a few slide, but most of the time I just can't stand them and I will do everything I can to either eliminate them or junk the photo.

*cough* Chino *cough*
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Jay Beckman
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Matt Ottosen
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« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2017, 07:31:13 PM »

You guys have mentioned a lot that I completely agree with, but one of my biggest ones is power lines and telephone poles.  Sometimes I'll let a few slide, but most of the time I just can't stand them and I will do everything I can to either eliminate them or junk the photo.

*cough* Chino *cough*

Chino is the worst, I hardly use any photos of static aircraft just because of all the power lines.
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Matt "Linus" Ottosen
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The Legend of the Guardian of the Line
The Greek God "Linus" comes from the Greek name Λινος (Linos) meaning "leg."
In Greek legend he was the son of the God Apollo who was accidentally killed when he stepped over the white line.

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Anna M. Wood
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« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2017, 11:16:20 PM »

Interesting discussion....

Clutter is one thing I dislike.  Probably why I enjoy shooting at night or in low light for statics.  One can isolate the subject from the background.   I struggle with statics during the day on a cluttered ramp.

I like the smeared background of a low shutter speed panning shot.  Probably to my detriment, as I push the envelop more than I should with low shutter speeds.
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