Sky High Shots: Master Airplane Photography with These Expert Tips

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Intro: Do you struggle to capture stunning photos while soaring through the skies? We’ve all been there – fumbling with our cameras;Sky High Shots: Master Airplane Photography with These Expert Tips

TL;DR: Key Takeaways

  • Plan ahead and know your camera
  • Adjust settings for optimal results
  • Experiment with angles and compositions
  • Utilize natural light
  • Edit your photos for a professional finish

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The Sky’s the Limit: Tackling Airplane Photography Challenges

According to a survey by Skyscanner, 61% of travelers say that taking photos of their flights is important to them. But let’s face it: airplane photography can be challenging due to the speed of the aircraft, the distance from the subject, and the movement of the camera.

Award-winning aerial photographer Jassen Todorov once said, “Airplane photography is all about capturing the beauty of the world from a unique perspective“. So, how do you overcome these challenges and snap breathtaking shots?

Expert Tips for Stunning Airplane Photography

Scott Kelby, a renowned photographer and author, advises, “The key to successful airplane photography is to plan ahead, be patient, and experiment with different settings and angles“. Let’s dive into some practical tips to help you master the art of airplane photography.

1. Plan Ahead and Know Your Camera

Before you board your flight, familiarize yourself with your camera’s settings and capabilities. Make sure your batteries are charged and have extra memory cards handy. Also, consider investing in a lens hood to minimize glare.

2. Adjust Settings for Optimal Results

Use a fast shutter speed (1/1000s or faster) to freeze motion and a wide aperture (f/2.8 or wider) to let in more light. A higher ISO setting may also help with dim cabin lighting. Remember to switch off the flash, as it can create unwanted reflections on the window.

3. Experiment with Angles and Compositions

Shoot from different angles and play with compositions. Get creative with the wing, engine, and clouds as your subjects. Remember the rule of thirds, and don’t be afraid to break it!

4. Utilize Natural Light

Take advantage of the golden hours (early morning or late afternoon) for softer, warmer light. If you’re flying during midday, make use of the window shade to control light intensity.

5. Edit Your Photos for a Professional Finish

Post-processing can enhance your photos, fix minor issues, and bring out details. Use editing software like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop to adjust exposure, contrast, and colors.

6. Keep an Eye on Weather Conditions

Weather can significantly impact your photographs. Check the weather forecast before your flight to anticipate any potential challenges, like turbulence or heavy cloud cover. Clear skies usually provide the best conditions for aerial photography.

7. Take Advantage of Layovers and Connecting Flights

Don’t limit yourself to just the photos taken from your seat. If you have layovers or connecting flights, use the opportunity to explore airport terminals, lounges, or observation decks for unique vantage points and interesting subjects.

8. Capture Candid Moments and Fellow Passengers

Great airplane photography isn’t limited to aerial shots. Capture the human element of air travel by photographing candid moments of fellow passengers or even yourself. Remember to be respectful and considerate of others’ privacy when doing so.

9. Experiment with Black and White Photography

Black and white photography can add a timeless and dramatic touch to your airplane photos. Experiment with monochrome settings on your camera or convert your color images to black and white during post-processing.

10. Share Your Photos and Learn from the Community

Join online forums, social media groups, or photography clubs to share your airplane photos, gather feedback, and learn from fellow enthusiasts. This will help you grow as a photographer and refine your skills.

11. Invest in the Right Gear and Accessories

While it’s true that great photography is more about the photographer than the gear, having the right equipment can make a difference. Consider investing in a high-quality zoom lens, polarizing filter, or lens hood to help you capture stunning airplane photos. A spare battery and extra memory cards are also essentials for long flights.

12. Take Inspiration from Famous Aerial Photographers

Study the works of famous aerial photographers like Yann Arthus-Bertrand, George Steinmetz, and Jassen Todorov to get inspired and learn new techniques. Analyze their compositions, color choices, and editing styles to understand what makes their images stand out.

13. Tell a Story with Your Photographs

Great photography goes beyond aesthetics—it tells a story. As you capture images from the sky, think about the narrative you want to convey. It could be the excitement of embarking on a new adventure, the serenity of being above the clouds, or the vastness of the world beneath you. Use your photos to evoke emotions and create a connection with your audience.

14. Learn from Your Mistakes

As with any skill, you’ll inevitably make mistakes along the way. But don’t let that discourage you. Instead, use those experiences as learning opportunities. Analyze your unsuccessful shots to identify areas for improvement, and apply those lessons to your future endeavors. With time and practice, you’ll see noticeable progress in your airplane photography.

15. Have Fun and Embrace the Journey

Lastly, remember to have fun and enjoy the process. Airplane photography can be a thrilling and rewarding hobby that allows you to capture the world from a fresh perspective. Embrace the challenges, celebrate your successes, and cherish the memories you create along the way.

As you continue to refine your skills and expand your horizons, you’ll undoubtedly develop a deeper appreciation for the beauty of our planet and the unique experiences that come with traveling by air.

Personal Conclusion

As a travel journalist, I’ve had my fair share of airplane photography mishaps. But with practice, patience, and these expert tips, I’ve managed to capture some truly memorable shots. So give it a shot, and soon enough, you’ll be an airplane photography pro!

FAQs on Airplane Photography

  • What type of camera is best for airplane photography?

While DSLRs and mirrorless cameras offer more control and better image quality, even smartphones can produce impressive results with the right techniques. The key is to know your camera’s capabilities and limitations.

  • How do I deal with window glare and reflections?

Use a lens hood or a piece of dark cloth to shield your lens from unwanted reflections. Also, avoid using flash and try shooting from different angles to minimize glare.

  • Can I use a tripod or monopod for airplane photography?

Using a tripod or monopod may be challenging in a cramped airplane cabin. Instead, rely on fast shutter speeds and image stabilization features to minimize camera shake. You can also use a rolled-up blanket or neck pillow as makeshift support.

  • How can I photograph landscapes and cityscapes from an airplane?

For clear landscape and cityscape shots, try to book a window seat on the side that offers the best view. Use a zoom lens to get closer to your subject, and opt for a polarizing filter to reduce haze and enhance colors.

  • What should I avoid when taking airplane photos?

Avoid shooting through dirty or scratched windows, using flash, or shooting with a slow shutter speed. Also, don’t forget to comply with airline rules and regulations regarding electronic devices.

  • How can I practice airplane photography without being on a plane?

Visit local airports, attend airshows, or find a vantage point near a flight path to practice your skills. This will help you become more comfortable with your camera and settings before tackling the real deal.

  • Can I take photos during takeoff and landing?

Rules regarding electronic devices during takeoff and landing vary by airline and country. Always follow the instructions of the flight crew and ensure your device is in airplane mode if required.


  1. Skyscanner (n.d.). Skyscanner’s 2020 Traveller Survey Results
  2. Todorov, J. (n.d.). Jassen Todorov: Aerial Photographer. 
  3. Kelby, S. (n.d.). Scott Kelby: Photographer, Author, Educator. 

Additional Tips for Exceptional Airplane Photography

Here are more insights and suggestions to elevate your airplane photography game.

My Personal Journey with Airplane Photography

As Kevin Erickson, an experienced travel journalist, I can attest to the learning curve involved in airplane photography. I recall a trip to New Zealand, when I attempted to capture the majestic Southern Alps from my window seat. The results were initially disappointing—blurry images with glaring reflections.

But, as I learned from my mistakes and applied the expert tips mentioned above, I began to see improvements in my photographs. The turning point came during a flight over the Grand Canyon, where I captured the perfect shot of the breathtaking landscape, with the sun casting long shadows across the rugged terrain.

It was a proud moment, and I realized that perseverance, creativity, and a willingness to learn from others are the keys to success in airplane photography.

Conclusion: Take Your Airplane Photography to New Heights

With the tips and insights provided in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to face the challenges of airplane photography and create captivating images that will leave a lasting impression. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep experimenting and refining your skills.

Now, grab your camera, book that window seat, and get ready to capture the world from a unique perspective. Happy flying and snapping!

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