Up in the Air: Capturing photos from airplane windows
Some tips for taking great photos from airplane windows with Point and Shoot Travel Zoom cameras…
I previously posted some tips about taking pictures on high-speed trains. Elevating that discussion and even accelerating the speed, I would encourage readers to take photos from airplane windows while in flight.
Rules about when this is allowed seem to vary among airlines and countries so those decisions have to be made on an individual basis. This post “focuses” on how to take photos from airplane windows and what results can be obtained.
I have been using point and shoot travel zoom cameras (specifically the Panasonic ZS and TZ series) for many years with satisfying results. Last month, I took photos while landing at London’s Heathrow Airport. The pictures below compare one of the shots I took from an airplane window to a similar view I later found on Google Earth. If this doesn’t convince you that taking aerial photos is rewarding, there is no need to read further.
My best results taking photos from airplane windows have been obtained during daylight (including sunrise and sunset) hours when the airplane was flying at relatively low altitudes. But if you are soaring over dramatic scenery like mountains, desert, rivers and lakes, forest or agricultural land or well-known landmarks, memorable and interesting photos from airplane windows can be obtained at high altitudes.
I was even able to capture the smoking Popocatepetl volcano, just east of Mexico City.
It helps to plan ahead: Look at a map before you go so you know what to anticipate and look for during the flight. Sometimes you can use the interactive flight information map at your seat.
Including clouds, sky and parts of the airplane (wings and jet engines) in your photos can actually enhance them and sometimes even orient the viewer.
Try using SCENE settings such as Thru Glass, Scenery, Sports, or Sunset depending on what the conditions are, and trust what you see on the LCD screen as you take the photos. Be sure your flash is off and try using Burst mode if you are flying low and the scene (landmark) is fleeting. Quickly reviewing a set of pictures (Playback setting) may influence you to make changes.
Dirty windows, glare, reflections and weather offer challenges but that’s part of the rapture and what else do you have to do on a long flight? Staying alert and not hesitating to shoot can lead to rewarding photos from airplane windows.
Once you catch the bug, you’ll probably want to take a significant number of shots on a long flight so be sure to keep extra batteries on hand, not in your checked bag.
One last reminder: Neither you nor your pilot can control the weather. If your plane is being de-iced on the runway, all bets are off.
Do you have any favorite photos to share that you’ve taken during a flight?
Also on More Time To Travel:
This post is part of a link up to Noel Morata’s Travel Photo Discovery.