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airshow advice
Old 03-12-2016   #1
chris91387
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airshow advice

i've acquired a press pass for the LA Airshow and am looking for some advice on how best to shoot the fast moving planes flying by. i will be bringing my 5DIII and 7dII as well as my 400/4 and 70-200/2.8, monopod and teleconverter. i often use the back-focus button for tracking in ai servo mode but sometimes it just doesn't seem to work well. any advice with Canon focus tracking modes (within the camera settings menu) and the myriad of focus point options is appreciated. there's just so many ways to set the camera up it boggles my mind.

thanks!
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Old 03-12-2016   #2
bmattock
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Personally I prefer manual focus and use a 500mm mirror lens. I tried monopods and tripods but they did not work for me. It's hard work, only a few keepers.

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Old 03-12-2016   #3
shawn
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It will depend upon how close you really get to the planes. Likely, it won't be all that close to the moving planes. If that is the case you can just back button AF focus on infinity and just shoot that way.

When you know what their closest approach will be take a few shots at infinity and see if they are sharp enough. If not pick something to prefocus on and go there when needed.

With jets shoot basically as fast a shutter speed as you can without going crazy with ISO. For prop planes slow your shutter down, you want it fast enough to not have motion blur on the plane but slow enough to blur their props as stopped props look odd. 1/500 is too fast, 1/125 or so should be OK but take a peak and speed up a little if you are blurring the planes.

Depending upon how much of the plane fills the frame either center weighted or spot meter on the planes.

Shawn
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Old 03-12-2016   #4
David Hughes
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Hi,

Take two cameras, one for things on the ground and one for the aircraft in the sky.

Slow shutters speeds for the planes and pan with them. When you pan, keep panning after taking the shot. Watch for things in the line of the pan, like PA speakers on poles and that idiot who will stand up in front of you just as the shot is taken.

Don't over zoom; it's easy to zoom in on them when far away and have them get close fast so you find you are over zoomed. I limit myself to a 200 or 300 to avoid this.

Use the second camera with the wide to standard lens. It will work for shots of things around you on the ground and general shots of vapour/smoke trails. Don't attempt to change lenses as things can happen fast and you miss them.

I also take a P&S because sooner or later you'll need to lock the cameras away and find food, drink etc and the P&S might just be needed yet out of the way for the food and drink times.

Watch the flight path, planes look best shot from above which means as they bank if you are on the ground and they turn to go behind you.

One last point, try working with both eyes open as things happen fast and move into the frame when you least expect it. I could fill this page with dreadful mistakes at airshows...

Regards, David
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Old 03-12-2016   #5
TXForester
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I'd take normal or wide angle lens too. If the show is anything like the shows I attend, you will have a chance to move around parked aircraft. You'll want a lens that will let you get all of a small plane in the frame without backing up too much. Also detail shots of interesting parts of the planes are nice, so a 50mm works well for close ups.

I usually shoot prop planes in flight around 1/200 or 1/250 to get a little propeller blur, and the rest of the plane sharp. Sometimes image stabilization set to panning mode works for planes just passing by, but I would not use IS at all for aerobatics. Steady camera holding and panning technique (up and down as well as horizontally) works best for following planes traveling in a variety of directions.
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Old 03-12-2016   #6
Thud
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If you have the pass for all days go one day to see what the aircraft will do.
Set up some areas to shoot mark the down in a note book and find a good locations to view the show.
As a observer look and see what will work with your experience.
Shooting moving aircraft is an art that needs to be practiced. Ground stuff can be very cool to.
Stop worrying about all settings and gizmos use common sense and go have a good learning experence.

Good luck
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Old 03-13-2016   #7
David Hughes
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Hi,

A minor point, if you can, stay after the show finishes and then the ground crew start clearing up and so on. You can get some good atmospheric shots then...



About 10:30 at night, f/2 and a 30th.

Regards, David
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Old 03-13-2016   #8
chris91387
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thanks for the advice, everyone. and yes, i'll have a few other lenses as well. i can only go one day so i'll certainly be learning as i go. i've never even been to an airshow as a spectator so i really have no idea what to expect. hoping my press pass lets me in real early to catch early morning light with planes being prepped in "the pit"...if there is such a thing.
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Old 03-13-2016   #9
splitimageview
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yes, make the most of sunrise, even pre-sunrise.

I've shot many air shows, but the typical airshow 'photo pass' with the plane dipping its wing for the spectators becomes rather passé. You may find otherwise since it's your first show!

The challenge for me with in-air shots are warbirds with prop blur. This is difficult to pull off in terms of low shutter speed to induce blur and precise panning to get a sharp aircraft. When all this does come to pass it can be quite satisfying. I usually try several shots with low shutter speed and hope for the best, and then increase the speed in order to take home some keepers even if that sacrifices prop blur.

When the jets take to the skies there is no concern for prop blur, so bump up the shutter speed.

I prefer grounds shots now.

With your gear I'd just go with the 7D-II and the 70-200. I never use a monopod, much too difficult. 400 is too long, IMHO; if your TC works with the zoom use it instead. Bring a wide and a light tripod for the presunrise ground shots. Find the angle you like, and take several shots while varying the exposure.





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Old 03-13-2016   #10
madNbad
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Don"t forget to bring hearing protection! Spend some money on a decent pair of over the ear muffs. They protect the inner ear bones better than plugs.
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Old 03-13-2016   #11
nikon_sam
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Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat...light reflecting off the tarmac will get to you after a long day...
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Old 03-13-2016   #12
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Watch out for Hawker Hunters.
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Old 03-13-2016   #13
chris91387
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good thought on hearing protection.

there's no sample schedule on the website yet. are there short breaks between "acts"? will have time to dump cards onto my laptop?
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Old 03-13-2016   #14
TXForester
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Most shows I've seen are a little mixed on breaks. Some short and some a little longer. My problem with breaks is getting in line for drinks and food and still being there when a plane you really want to see does its act. Often the break is long enough to take advantage of the "facilities."

In addition to the sun protection mentioned, drink plenty of water.
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Old 03-14-2016   #15
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Visiting aircraft (that don't land) are the biggest problem, they can't turn up to the minute and can be early or late. Sometimes you can see them circling to pass the time but you need eyes in the back of your head at times.

And some pilots like to strafe the runway by diving out of nowhere...

Regards, David
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