No announcement yet.

photographing aircraft at night?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • photographing aircraft at night?

    I am an avid aircraft fan, i want to get photos of airplanes landing at nighttime.

    any suggestions on how to do this?



    i usually sit at the end of the runway, so the planes fly right over me. The landing lights are bright and obscure the photos. But if i try moving to the side so i can get a sideview photograph, there isn't enough light to photograph the airplanes.

    Any ideas?
    Trigger Photography Northern Illinois Best Photography Site
    Rockford Scanner Rockford Scanner

  • #2
    Fast glass and the highest ISO you can manage before you get noise.

    Given the speed anything less then about 1/125 shutter and your looking at streaky lights (unless you want that, that is).


    • #3
      Night Aircraft

      This is tough unless you use high powered strobes, but I somehow think the pilot, Port Authority, FAA, NTSB, and your local police would frown on that! As previously posted, try using the highest ISO you can stand. Another trick would be to "push process" your RAW file. Like this...find your ISO that gives you the fasted shutter you can get then underexpose by 1 or 2 stops. When doing so, notice your shutter speed increases by 1 or 2 stops. That should get you the speed you need to freeze. Then, when post-processing you RAW, push 1 or 2 stops. Now your exposed properly and the shutter speed should have been high enough to freeze your aircraft. VR would also help here. Good Luck!


      • #4
        You're best bet is to shoot them during the daylight hours.
        (1) EOS 1D MKIII (3) EOS 1D's, (3) EOS1D MKIIs', (1) EOS1Ds MKII, 14mmf2.8, 16-35mmf2.8, 28-70mmf2.8, 70-200mm f2.8, 300mm f2.8 and a 400mmf2.8, (4) 550 EX and 1 580E speedlite, and a Speed a tron studio flash system.


        • #5
          I don't have direct experience in this, but perhaps I can help nonetheless. I sometimes peruse a site called, which is primarily a collection of airplane pictures. Running a search for nighttime pictures it seems that what you're seeking is darn near impossible (sample gallery, another one). That said, they have a forum called the photographers' corner. I don't have access to that because I'm not a member but I'm guessing you'll get better results at a specialized forum like that one.

          Good luck!
          Canon EOS 50D, EF 24-105mm f/4L IS, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS, EF 50 mm f/1.4, Sigma EF 500 DG Super flash


          • #6
            While underexposing by 2 stops might let you increase the shutter speed it generally will add significantly to the noise at high ISO. Noise wise you are much better to expose properly than to underexpose.
            Nikon D800e, D300, D5000, NIKON GLASS 85mm F/1.8 D, 105mm f/2.8 Micro AF-S VR, 70-200 AF-S VR f/2.8, 28-300 AF-S VRII,10.5mm Fisheye, 24-70 AF-S f/2.8, TC-20E III AF-S, Sigma 12-24 HSM, Sigma 30mm f/1.4 HSM, Sigma 150-500 OS, 2 SB-600 Speedlights, SB-900 speedlight, 4 YN-622N transceivers, Manfrotto 190MF3 tripod & 322RC2 ball grip head. - NJ, USA
            Flickr Photobucket
            Ok to edit and repost my shots on DPS forums


            • #7
              Make sure you can, first.

              Ive heard of people getting in some serious trouble in our post-9/11 world hanging out around airports with a camera with a big lens sitting off the front. Check with the airport and police before setting up for the evening.

              Assuming you get the go ahead (not a problem, generally), I'd suggest setting up during the twilight hours (6pm or so) and getting some of the last remnants of the setting sun
              I am responsible for what I say; not what you understand.
              Gear List
              500PX | Graphic Design


              • #8
                Thnx for all the tips!

                I would photograph them during the day, but i work. I know i would get my best results then.

                Your right, after 9/11 they really started to frown on people photographing planes. I been photographing them since 1999. During the day lol. I don't know why they frown upon photography of planes though. It is an art. They look at ya like "what the heck are ya doing" lol.

                I photograph the local airport, KRFD. and it's most active during the night because it is an UPS hub.

                Once again, I want to thank you all for the reples and tips
                Trigger Photography Northern Illinois Best Photography Site
                Rockford Scanner Rockford Scanner


                • #9
                  Hi Guys
                  Im new to the site and photography. Bought my 1st camera yesterday a Fuji 8100fd.

                  On the topic of airplane shooting, I'm one of the guys in the plane trying to take photos outside of it!!

                  Attached is one I took with my phone the other day but gives an idea of shots I'm after.
                  It was taken over France at sunset about 7 miles up.
                  Anyone have any advice on these kind of photos, taking pictures through windows long range scenery etc


                  Strobes prob not the best idea at that stage of landing


                  • #10
                    Have a look at this post from the blog a few months back for plane window tips


                    << blog >> - flickr
                    Olympus E510 - Ok to edit and re-post on DPS only


                    • #11
                      Thats just what I'm after,