How to compose pictures of airplanes
Give your subjects space
You have to be on your toes when you’re shooting aircraft in flight, and you won’t always have time to think about your composition.
As tempting as it may be, don’t fill the frame with a plane: give subjects breathing space, so you have some margin for error – you can always crop in to create a tighter composition at the editing stage (we’ll get to this later).
Think about a plane’s direction of travel too: you want it to be flying ‘into’ the frame.
On the ground
Static aircraft can make just as interesting subjects as fast-moving ones. Get down low with a wide-angle lens for an unusual perspective – use ground markings as leading lines, and to add depth.
In the air
Use airport buildings and structures to your advantage to help frame airborne subjects. Here, because the sky contained lots of detail we underexposed the aircraft to capture a silhouette effect.
We added context to this shot of a plane taking off by including plenty of foreground detail, such as the runway lights. The heat haze created by the exhaust from the engines enhances the feel of the image.
PAGE 1: Best camera settings for aviation photography
PAGE 2: How to compose pictures of airplanes
PAGE 3: How to take pictures of airplanes at air shows
PAGE 4: How to edit your aviation photography for best results: steps 1-5
PAGE 5: How to edit your aviation photography for best results: steps 6-10
Master your camera’s autofocus: which AF points to use and when to use them
The 10 Rules of Photo Composition (and why they work)
How to use autofocus with moving subjects
How to get photo composition right every time