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Yesterday, I had a bright idea; I thought I would try photographing aircraft at night.

So, I picked a location off the departure end of Heathrow's Rwy 27L.

I then checked on what sort of "heavy" aircraft would be departing and off I set. I had already accepted this was only an experiment so I shouldn't be disappointed if it didn't all go swimmingly.

After an hour, I decided to give up and go home. Reflecting afterwards on what went wrong I concluded I made a couple of mistakes, beginning with "I thought I would try photographing aircraft at night"!

Next mistake was getting in the car and driving to Heathrow.

Disappointing? Well, let's say I should have left the camera in the bag. At home!

I think my real issue was picking a dark spot and relying on the aircraft's lights to illuminate the photo. Well, obviously, aircraft lights are not designed to do that!

I might just try again but this time choose a location with a lot of illumination from the ground environment.

Ho hum!

Kelvin

Views: 39

Comment by Jack Dryden on February 19, 2017 at 10:33

Nice to experiment. I found that just using light just from the object the photo did not come out as good, If there was light coming from areas next to the object I had a better result. Keep on trying. 

Comment by Howard - Liverpool on February 19, 2017 at 17:41

Prolem is Kelvin that you cant magic up light! If it isnt there it doesnt work. You have to have enough light at a low ISO unless its grain grain grain. Good luck dont stop

Comment by Bryan Crawford on February 23, 2017 at 14:32

I think you need to be somewhere with a lot of external light, the human eye picks up more light than a camera. Ben Cambridge photos on pinkfroot demonstrates this. Keep trying if you figure it please let us all know.

Comment by Howard - Liverpool on February 24, 2017 at 7:57

Very high iso for moving things but he'll is grain low iso and long exposure for fixed stuff on tripod. Some night stuff I do on buildings is up to a minute exposure. A bit difficult with ship unless moored and very still.

Comment by Kelvin Davies on February 25, 2017 at 17:51

Thanks for the comments troops. As I said, it was an experiment to see what could be gleaned from the aircraft's own lights. They look so bright when you stand beneath them but what a difference when Mr. Camera has a look! Still, if we ever get any decent weather again, I shall give it another go, perhaps with aircraft landing. That way I should be able to get some usable ambient light.

As for the ISO setting, the results will largely depend on the camera. The "grain" on a digital photograph is not the same as it was on film. With digital, it is caused by noise in the amplifiers within the camera. So, with a poor amplifier, if you turn up the volume, you will hear that noise. With a better quality amp, it will be much reduced. The camera I am currently using is fairly good with high ISO values. Not as good as the high end versions but not so bad either.

A tip for long exposure building photography, Howard. If you want to photograph in daylight but there's a lot of people walking round, go for a very long exposure. One way of doing that is with the use of a graduated filter. My son has one which is the equivalent of stopping down 10 stops. When you use the very long exposure, the people walking by don't register and so you end up with a pretty "clean" photo with the passers by missing.

Meanwhile, the new lens I was so impatient to try out has been in use again (Heathrow yesterday). The first results were good in places and disappointing in others. It was only when I went to Heathrow at night I realised I had not taken care of the focussing/metering point. I was using a single, central focus point which I normally do and gets good results. The new lens being more bulky than the previous one meant that when taking shots between the fence strands at Luton, I kept bumping the camera into the fence wire which meant the aircraft was not always dead centre when I took the shot! I think I have fixed this now. Using the Canon's multi-point focus, the camera itself will work out whether to focus on a single point or as many as necessary each time. So, I have just posted my latest efforts from Heathrow (in daylight!) using the sensible focussing method.

It was a good day for B787 fans yesterday. 2 Air Canada, 1 Air France, 1 Qatar and a squadron of BA examples. All in 3.5 hours!

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