/////Is Prop blur important is aircraft photography ?
Is Prop blur important is aircraft photography ?2017-08-21T19:51:54+02:00

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Is Prop blur important is aircraft photography ?

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  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    This week end I attended an Air Show. My primary focus was to get some in-focus shots that showed some action.

    Prop blur was the “BUZZ WORD” and seemed to be the “SHOT”to get. It will take away the impression from your plane looking like it is hanging from a bit of nylon fishing wire in your bedroom they said….. So look up the techniques was suggested. and so I did. ….Panning technique, shutter speed, density filters, aperture, ISO, tripod or not etc, were all considered after a two days or browsing the IN.

    So indications by some/most are that one needs to slow down the shutter speed to get propeller blur. So is this just a passing fad/trend? Or is imperative it to aircraft Photography?

    As a beginner I talk to the concepts and what is considered more important.

    I am going to discuss this image. http://www.outdoorphoto.community/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=374207&title=torre-aerobatic-team&cat=520

    In this image the ss was 1/1000s and showed some prop blur. But it also showed a large amount of blur in the smoke trail of the “Wear Check” plane where the “Gabriel” plane right wing cut across the smoke trail. I would have liked to get all the smoke trails similar and I do not recall seeing this effect, this time or any other.

    In hindsight, should I have slowed down the ss to get prop blur? Or, speeded up ss to decrease smoke trail blur? What is more important?

    I am sure this is going to lead to subject views, but all views are welcome and look forward to comments.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    I think I would argue that slowing down the ss to create prop blur would also cause blur to the smoke trail if the aircraft/s were panned to create sharpness. Is my thinking correct?

  • Peter Connan
    Participant
    Post count: 818

    This is my own opinion only:

    For a single aircraft, the holy grail is “horizons and discs”. IE, a visible (and level) horizon, and a full prop disc. Like this: http: //www.outdoorphoto.community/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=359733&title=beat-up-21&cat=500 (although this one is a little over-exposed) Obviously, this is not always possible, but it’s the most natural-looking way to portray an aircraft, because that’s what we see with our eyes.

    However, for team aerobatics, this creates a bit of a probelm. In the iconic shots where planes are passing each other, the great “wow” moments in group displays, such a low shutter speed guarantees that the aircraft you are not tracking will be blurry. For those shots where the planes are passing in opposite directions, the crossing plane will be just a streaky blur. Thus, for team aerobatics I am always in two minds whether to shoot at a low or a higher speed.

    Even then, I wouldn’t go to a 1/1000th. I would probably look at 1/400th. There must still be SOME prop blur.

    But I shoot jets at 1/2000th. On the other hand, if you can get the horizon in the shot, it would be better to slow down to get a streaky BG.

    I suspect I will never catch Mustang Sally with a full prop disc, but I will keep trying for as long as she graces our airshows.

    A final thought: If slow shutter speed does nothing else, it at least wins you respect from other togs who have tried, as they know how tough it is.

    Edit: seems my link doesn’t work. Look in my gallery for a shot of a B25.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Thank you for your thoughts Peter. Most appreciated. I did find this article quite interesting. http://www.digitalcamerareview.com/howto/how-to-photograph-an-airshow/ It gives a lot of tips on what to look out for.

    I was quite surprised by the detail still showing behind the prop’s in your B52 photo. I would have thought that that detail would have been lost.

    You have some very impressive images Peter.

  • SimonDP
    Moderator
    Post count: 2146

    Prop blur, or any motion blur for that matter, is not essential, but it goes one heck of a long way towards adding extra impact and dynamics to your photos. But like all good things in life it doesn’t come easy…Rotorcraft and some fixed wing jobs have slow rotorblade speeds, and getting them to a full disk can require 1/20 , but decent results can be had when timing your shot full full rev’s moments, like in a dive or steep banking turn, etc. Practice makes perfect. Lots of practice….. My best effort so far…
    [ATTACH]9586[/ATTACH] 1/200, Canon 1Dx2, Canon 500 f4 with 1.4x TC.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Thank you for your input Simon. Appreciate your comments all the time as they give inspiration and direction.

    Why is it that I pick all the difficult genre in photography. :p Seems someone is trying to test my patients. LOL

    Nice photo Simon. Please share how you managed to post the image here.

  • Rooikop1
    Participant
    Post count: 102

    I agree with both posters in reply to your question Keith, however, in places like the UK they do not bother and is even frowned upon sometimes. In SA however, it is as Peter says, almost a holy grail, and do I know from the club scene that showing prop blur is a must in order to show off action / movement.

    Knowing your subjects goes a long way, as taking photos of the Dragon Rapid and the Chipmunk for instance will hardly have any blur at the same shutter speed as where you will achieve a nice disc for a Slick or even beter with turbine aircraft such as the Pilatus used by the Silver Falcons.

    And then as Simon says, practice and more practice, that is the only way that you will get the stability and technique to get those crisp sharp photos. But most of all, enjoy it.

    This one was shot at 125th, and even then the disc is not full, so I agree with Peter that on the Mustang you will probably be looking at about a 40th to 50th.[ATTACH]9587[/ATTACH]

    And on some days when you are lucky, this one at a 30th.
    [ATTACH]9588[/ATTACH]

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Thank you for your input Deon. Most appreciated. All these submissions give newbies and especially me (a very green newbie) a path to faster learning. As all have said practice and persistence gets the reward, which I am learning very quickly.

    I will be making a nuisance of myself at the hangers at rand airport requesting access to and permission to photograph their craft.

    I did take the liberty of browsing your gallery Deon. Some awesome images in their and in this thread.

    It is so comforting that the members here are so willing to share knowledge, experience and views. I commend you and all for taking out your time to assist.

  • Peter Connan
    Participant
    Post count: 818

    Stunning shots Deon and Simon.

    And thanks for the compliment Keith. I must indicate that that was an RC model plane. In this respect at least, they are easier than the real thing because their props turn relatively much faster, and full discs can be acheived at 1/250th, depending on the model. Of course, they are smaller, faster size-size and usually much less stable, which cancels out most of the advantage.

    I spent a part of the day researching what RPM’s aircraft engines rotate at, what reduction the prop drive has and generating a formula to calculate the required shutter speed. Unfortunately, I forgot to mail it to myself, but basically:

    Mustang Sally’s Packard V1650 revs at between 2300 (cruise) and 2750 (maximum) RPM. It has either a 1:0.42 or 1:0.47 reduction drive (not sure which, but it makes little difference in our terms), and a four-bladed prop (which helps a bit). The result is that we need a shutter speed of between 1/60th and 1/80th to get a full disc.

    This is approximately middle ground.

    The most difficult planes we face commonly (I did not calculate for the Aeronca with it’s 40hp JAP engine) are actually the Harvards. 2350 RPM flat out, a 2:3 reduction drive and a two-bladed prop means we theoretically need to get down to 1/30th. The rotary engines in many WW1 planes are even slower. May the force be with you if you ever get the opportunity to shoot one of those!

    On the other end of the spectrum, all the light aircraft and the turbo-prop planes seem to be fairly similar in terms of prop RPM (about 2700-300RPM flat out), and the main difference is in the number of prop blades. For a two-bladed prop, we can get a full disk at 1/125th, four a three-blader, maybe 1/160th.

    i’ll say it again: getting a sharp photo of a plane with a full prop disk under air-show conditions and especially of the slower-turning props, is going to be mainly a matter of luck. If you take enough shots, you may just get it right one day.

    Another point which has not really been mentioned yet in this discussion: support.
    You mentioned that you are shooting hand-held. By doing so, you are stacking the odds heavily against you.
    I shoot most planes off a tripod with (a cheap chinese) gimbal head. Mustang Sally and most of the extreme aerobatics (as well as almost all RC models) move too fast for this. For them I use Simon’s trick of a monopod with a one-directional head, the bottom end of which is nestled in a belt pouch at may waist. These methods are a great aid to smooth tracking.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    On a side note… over the day and a half I took 5365 photos consuming 3 x 32Gb memory cards and flattened 3.5 batteries. Am I to trigger happy? and what should one expect as a keeper rate?

    Yes keeper rate is subjective, but what should one aim for percentage wise. πŸ™‚

  • Rooikop1
    Participant
    Post count: 102

    It is a big pleasure, and perhaps, although I understand not every bodies cup of tea, join a camera club in the mean time to take you on a journey of learning. I have had tremendous growth as a photographer in my years as a member of a club, but one needs to understand the differences in club and salon participation to what one would find main stream.

    Also, are there quite a few websites that will provide you with helpful information, and do I believe that an ODP member Leo Theron (from memory) also done a very helpful write up on shooting airplanes. And then look at photographs, a lot of them, and the ones that are most helpful are the ones with the basic EXIF available. Some members of our club on Sunday remarked on how helpful it was for them to go thru my gallery on FLICKR and to have the EXIF available.

    AVCOM is also quite nice to look at and to see what some photographers are doing, and then if you look under the heading “SEEN AT FAGM(Rand)” under the Aviation Photography section, a lot of Sunday’s action is also on display there.

    Rand already have a resident starker as you might be able to see from the amount of photos BEARCAT post, especially the RAND section. His name and contact details are on the bottom of his photo’s, and might be a good idea to see if you can perhaps get to speak to him personally as he have access to most places at Rand.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Looks like we posted simultaneously Peter. I did have a tripod standing on a table bench and was standing all over the beer Co’s table. But it was a cheep Manfrotto effort, I paid about 3K some five or six years ago. Similar to this one I think. https://www.outdoorphoto.co.za/tripods-and-support/tripods/photo-tripods/manfrotto-tripods/manfrotto-190×3-3w-tripod-kit-804rc2-head

    I am going to see if I can remove the head and fit my Benro GH2 Gimbal head.

    Thank you for the info on prop speeds. I do recall reading watching a video on the subject some time ago. Thank you for reminding me and I will look it up again.

    Edit.. the Gimbal head. https://youtu.be/ZSHp2_8TV7c

  • Rooikop1
    Participant
    Post count: 102

    @peter Connan 297625 wrote:

    Stunning shots Deon and Simon.

    Another point which has not really been mentioned yet in this discussion: support.
    You mentioned that you are shooting hand-held. By doing so, you are stacking the odds heavily against you.
    I shoot most planes off a tripod with (a cheap chinese) gimbal head. Mustang Sally and most of the extreme aerobatics (as well as almost all RC models) move too fast for this. For them I use Simon’s trick of a monopod with a one-directional head, the bottom end of which is nestled in a belt pouch at may waist. These methods are a great aid to smooth tracking.

    Thanks Peter for the compliment.

    Ja Peter, agree that it is also very important, but takes a good deal of practice in itself to master, one that I have still not done. A monopod is perhaps the less used item I have ever owned, lol.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Thank you Deon, I will investigate a camera club in my area Lambton and also hunt BEARCAT down.

    I have a flight sim, bought most of the Saitek components from the aviation shop at FAGM. Will ask them to assist in getting photograph opportunities.

    My flight sim https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/forums/topic/104428-showcase-your-sim/&do=findComment&comment=1033283

    Edit: Just browsed your flicker acc Deon. lots of impressive images. Well done.

  • Peter Connan
    Participant
    Post count: 818

    @keith Baxter 297626 wrote:

    On a side note… over the day and a half I took 5365 photos consuming 3 x 32Gb memory cards and flattened 3.5 batteries. Am I to trigger happy? and what should one expect as a keeper rate?

    Yes keeper rate is subjective, but what should one aim for percentage wise. πŸ™‚

    One shot per plane?

    πŸ˜‰

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    @peter Connan 297631 wrote:

    One shot per plane?

    πŸ˜‰

    Thank you for putting that in perspective Peter. :p

  • Leo Theron
    Participant
    Post count: 1582

    @rooikop1 297627 wrote:

    Also, are there quite a few websites that will provide you with helpful information, and do I believe that an ODP member Leo Theron (from memory) also done a very helpful write up on shooting airplanes. ..

    .

    Good Memory, Rooikop!

    Part One: https://www.outdoorphoto.co.za/blog/shoot-an-airshow-part-one/

    Part Two: https://www.outdoorphoto.co.za/blog/shoot-an-airshow-part-two/

    HTH…

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    @leo Theron 297633 wrote:

    Good Memory, Rooikop!

    Part One: https://www.outdoorphoto.co.za/blog/shoot-an-airshow-part-one/

    Part Two: https://www.outdoorphoto.co.za/blog/shoot-an-airshow-part-two/

    HTH…

    So I post question and all the passionate photo gurus come out of their hiding holes. LOL

    WOW so a bucket load of info and expertise is right here on this forum. I had no idea. Thank you to all for helping and giving direction. Super stoked. πŸ™‚

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3716

    man – shoot die vliegmasjiene op die grond. Voor die props draai. problem solved.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    @elsahoffmann 297635 wrote:

    man – shoot die vliegmasjiene op die grond. Voor die props draai. problem solved.

    LOL Elsa… You quietly observing and not getting involved. :p

    Your input is also always respected. Thank you for chime in. It puts some smiles on the serious faces.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    @keith Baxter 297628 wrote:

    I did have a tripod standing on a table bench and was standing all over the beer Co’s table. But it was a cheep Manfrotto effort, I paid about 3K some five or six years ago.

    I am going to see if I can remove the head and fit my Benro GH2 Gimbal head.

    Yup the removal was easy, when you know how. I really like my Benro Gimbal. Use it mainly in bird hides on my Camera Steady. It gives me balance and is very friendly to use. Tomorrow will tell as I will be trying to get access to good spots to photograph the activities at FAGM.

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3716

    for the life of me I cant work out how to shoot a bird with a tripod – ye I know I dont have a gimbal – but how on earth do you get the camera so quickly where you want it? I hand hold everything – birds, studio, wildlife. Just macro I pod. And of course the odd product

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    @elsahoffmann 297639 wrote:

    for the life of me I cant work out how to shoot a bird with a tripod – ye I know I dont have a gimbal – but how on earth do you get the camera so quickly where you want it? I hand hold everything – birds, studio, wildlife. Just macro I pod. And of course the odd product

    Like everyone is telling me. You need to plan what you want to shoot. :p I am learning fast from all the wonderful advice and readings. Plan and know from where your subjects are most likely to appear from. πŸ™‚ LOL

    One of the worlds renowned bird photographers. Arthur Morris, advocates shooting from a tripod.

    Elsa in bird hides I tried the bean bags and even jimmied a contraption to adapt to the car window when driving around KNP. However the Camera steady with the Gimbal is a pleasure to use in hides and my patio table which faces the bird feeding station I have set up.

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3716

    Keith ya no well fine.

    One day I might buy a gimbal or a-like.

  • Peter Connan
    Participant
    Post count: 818

    Elsa, as Keith said, if you know where the action is going to happen, set up a tripod and wait for it. Nests and feeding stations are good examples. You can’t hand-hold steadily for long enough to wait for action to happen, you need to be aimed and focussed waiting for the bird to come in. And now we are really straying from the OP…

    Keith, good luck with getting in and finding a nice spot.

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3716

    half back to subject – a plane you can track better because you can predict. My garden is another story – birds come from all sides – and I cant see necessarily due to trees on the sides – what is coming from there – I can only see those coming head -on in. That one can track. But the the buggers turn πŸ™‚ Planes drive more straight. Kingfishers DONT fly in a straight stripe πŸ˜‰
    haha I am being difficult – I really do get it πŸ™‚

  • Peter Connan
    Participant
    Post count: 818

    Have you SEEN unlimited aerobatics?

    πŸ˜‰

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3716

    @peter Connan 297644 wrote:

    Have you SEEN unlimited aerobatics?

    πŸ˜‰

    no but that sounds sexy haha

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

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