I have a bunch of photo projects running around the back of my mind. So today I went out to the airport to start working on this project which is composite photos of airplanes taking off or landing. I have a vision in mind, but I am quite sure it is going to take a while to really get it to work. I set the camera up on a tripod at a corner of the hangar where I had a clear view of the active runway. I figured I would take a series of photos as airplanes landed or took off. Simple! Hoo boy, this a little more challenging than I figured for a few reasons. The first problem is that the airplane has to be big enough in the frame to be able to see the thing. I shot at 105 mm with my trusty 24-105. The second problem is that the darned airplane is moving at about 70 miles per hour. That means it traverses the frame very quickly, a little more than a second. It also means that you need a fast shutter speed. For airplanes with propellers, I normally use 1/320 to preserve prop motion. Because I am panning with the airplane, there really isn't motion blur. When the camera is stationary, there certainly is motion blur. Another thing is that one cannot predict where the airplane is actually going to touch down. It would be nice to get the airplane kissing the pavement. What makes it even more difficult is that just before touchdown, the angle of descent is about one degree (vs 3 degrees on approach). As you can see from my photo, it is hard to see that the airplane is actually in a descent.
Back home, I downloaded the photos and put them together in photoshop. That is the easiest part of the whole thing. I had a close look and confirmed that indeed the motion blur was not acceptable. Now I know and will compensate the next time out. I am thinking that shooting angle with the runway can be changed. This was about perpendicular. I am also thinking that I will set up a long way down the runway and try my luck with the 100-400 and a small angle to the runway.
Ok, so what you ask. Well, I had a great deal of fun and I learned a lot. I am certainly going to be at the airport soon and try to improve my techniques. Life is good!