Planning on entering our January contest?
Or just looking to get some great vacation shots while in the air?
Either way, here are 5 top tips for improving photos taken through airplane windows.
1. Take your shots while the window is clear
During the flight, the airplane windows usually become filled with condensation or ice, limiting visibility.
As a result, it is better to take pictures earlier in the flight than later.
Did you want to shoot something toward the end of your flight? If you are returning along the same route, you can shoot it on the homeward travel leg when it will be at the start of your flight.
2. Deal successfully with reflections
As an experienced photographer, you probably just put your lens right on the glass when shooting in non-moving situations, such as museums or zoos. The vibrations of the plane mean this technique is not going to work.
It is recommended to use a lens hood. Then position your lens as close to the window glass as possible without actually touching it.
Minimize other lighting by turning off your overhead light and your camera's flash.
3. Eliminate rainbow-coloured pictures
Rainbows are wonderful, but not everyone wants rainbow-coloured photos. This can happen when shooting from a plane due to the plexiglass used in the windows.
The plexiglass material causes light to split into two rays (aka birefringence).
If you use a polarizing filter, this split can rainbow-colour your shots. You won't always see this colouring on the LCD screen of your camera, but it will be quite obvious as soon as you upload your pictures.
Of course, if you would like to play around with this effect, feel free to leave your polarizing filter on and go for it.
4. Manual not autofocus
Photographing through glass tends to confuse your camera. By switching to manual focus mode and locking the focus onto your focal point, your pictures will generally be sharper.
5. Content and composition are still top priority
Boring pictures excite no one. Work on creating unusual, thought-provoking, and stimulating images.
Look for lines. Aerial shots are full of opportunities for captivating lines. There are winding roads and highways; full (and dry) rivers and other waterways; the lines created by rows of houses or buildings, planted fields or orchards, pathway or traffic lighting.
Capture clouds. As a child, did you spend time cloud-gazing? Perhaps you also tried to find clouds which looked like actual things. Now, you have an up-close opportunity to do the same and preserve your 'find.' You could create an entire collection of cloud items.
Make the mundane unusual. Could a regular old airplane wing look exciting? Taken from the right angle and framed by a vivid sky, it could. Which other things can be 'renovated' to appear different than usual?