Dos and Don’ts for Aviation Photography

by Alton K. Marsh

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The author photographed this aerial landscape near Las Vegas from a reasonably clean airliner window. © Alton Marsh

Taking air-to-ground photos has a place in nature photography as do drones and remotely operated cameras. However, should you want to expand your horizons, this article covers some of the Dos and Don’ts of photographing aircraft, air-to-air in particular, which can be more complicated.

There’s no shortage of aerial artists spotting graphic designs and colors on the ground. Adobe Photoshop guru Julieanne Kost spent several years asking for the window seat on her many travels. The result was her beautiful and well-received 2006 book Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking. There’s a Professional Aerial Photographer’s Association where business and professional photographers turn their attention to the beauty they are seeing each year and compete for prizes.

Other artists found in the back of an aircraft, usually with the door removed or a window taped open, take photos of actual aircraft. Well-known “critter” photographer Moose Peterson has in recent years branched into this field.

I was an aviation writer for 25 years at the AOPA Pilot, the monthly membership magazine of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Part of my job was to assist the photographer on the ground and again in the air by using my piloting skills to fly 35 feet from another plane carrying the photographer, enabling him/her to capture air-to-air photos. Continue reading