Over the last couple of years, I’ve spent countless hours on airplanes. It was one of the most unpleasant parts of my job. Crammed into narrow seats, annoyed by grumpy flight attendants, exposed to sweaty neighbors, and terrified of industrial food. However, there are a few fun things that can help you enjoy your flight more. And no, I’m not talking about the rolling minibar or the newest Hollywood movies. What I’m referring to is the opportunity to take images during the flight – supposing you are in a window seat.
Taking pictures from an airplane is not only challenging, it also opens up the opportunity to please your followers on the web with breathtaking views.
I took the adjacent picture on my most recent flight LH 458 from Munich to San Francisco. Shortly after the plane took off, I realized how beautiful the combination of dramatic sky and lovely landscape looked. Then, at the moment when the pilot softly banked the plane, I pushed the shutter button and fired a series of shots in high-speed mode. And now, a few days after I came back to California, I found those images on my memory card.
Now, what’s the secret of taking great pictures from a plane?
1. Take the shots shortly after the plane takes off. On long-distance flights, windows tend to ice up once you’ve been flying for a while. And every bit of condensation or ice will deteriorate the quality of your image.
2. Don’t let your lens touch the window. Although you need to get as close to the window as possible, beware of touching the glass with your lens. Otherwise, the vibrations from the engine will most definitely blur your shots.
3. Get your settings right in advance. Sometimes, you’ll only have a few moments until the plane reaches the clouds. That’s why it’s better to prepare your camera (ISO, shooting mode, etc.) before the plane takes off.
4. Turn the flash off. Well, let’s just hope that you’ve disabled the built-in flash of your DSLR anyway. It never helps with getting better pictures.
5. Set your camera on high-speed shooting mode. This will increase the likelihood that at least one of your shots will be in focus and sharp enough to be usable.
Can’t wait to see some results? Flickr’s group “Window seat please” is my favorite spots on the web when it comes to browsing through tons of images taken from planes. Enjoy!