Airplanes and Apertures

Laura PetersAviation

For the past few weekends, I have been visiting Chicago Executive Airport to capture shots of arriving and departing airplanes. While my great friend is in the air preparing to become a private pilot, I’m on the ground practicing my steady hand shots. For these trips, I have my Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 and Nikkor 50mm f/1.8.

It’s much easier to capture moving objects clearly with a fast shutter. Here’s a shot showing an airplane (Beech Baron) landing while I’m using a fast shutter speed and maximum aperture:

Beech Baron landing Runway 16

The fun method of shooting airplanes though is to capture them in a way that shows their movement. This second shot shows an airplane (Beechcraft turbo-prop) arriving while I’m using a slow shutter speed and smallest aperture:

Beechcraft turbo-prop landing Runway 16

I enjoy motion-tracking photography to capture airplanes in focus as they fly, while the background is blurred in the direction of travel. It requires that I have a steady hand and follow the motion of the subject smoothly. In addition to the skill of physically tracking the planes, setting the aperture and shutter speed manually is another great challenge that makes the great shots more fun to obtain.

– LP