Paul Grayson | Hire A Plane

Hire A Plane

March 17, 2017  •  1 Comment

Hire A PlaneHire A PlaneCopyrighted Digital Photograph

That’s what I usually do when I want to take vast expanse images of the U.S. landscape. If you want a tip on how to hire a plane for aerial photography, go straight to any web page for a “Cheapo” flight and ask for a window seat in economy. It works for me!


A Rugged Country


I never tire of staring out of the window on long flights. Whether it be the clouds or the earth far below, I still have a permanent sense of wonder, both at Creation in its untouched form and the incredible extent of the human imprint to be seen on it. Roads, paths and structures seem to cover the earth, with only a few miles separating the one from the other.


I have a very map-oriented brain and am constantly surprised and excited to identify what I see from where I guess the plane happens to be passing. This works from large-scale items such as the Grand Canyon, to individual buildings in cities viewed during landing and take-off.


This was a flight from Las Vegas to the U.S. East coast, so the image is somewhere over Arizona in the general area of the Grand Canyon. I regret my lack of geo-localisation capability for such images. While I have a record of the flight and its general trajectory it is often difficult to be precise about what was captured.




For such aerial photography, first of all, it also helps to have an excellent camera and secondly, excellent post-production software.


I took the usual precautions for commercial plane window capture: clean the inside of the window; use a short-barrelled lens, so as to get close to the Perspex; look ahead and plan any necessary camera adjustment; shoot in RAW and use as fast a speed as possible, consistent with a reasonable aperture and ISO combination, in order to eliminate aircraft vibration.


Given the fact that I was shooting through two layers of somewhat dirty Perspex, the real problem I had was in achieving correct colour balance in the image output. I experimented with using the grey point selection tool, but this was an iterative process, since the captured colours did not give me a good feel for where the grey point really was.


After levelling the horizon, the solution was to use the tint and saturation sliders until the image seemed to provide the most honest balance of colour overall. I am sometimes amazed at the capacity of a trained brain to reconstitute what the correct colour rendition might be, sometimes months or even years after tie image was originally captured. That did not help here because the image was originally photographed through the unwanted filters in the window.


In a situation like that, I focus on one thing that seems to be the truest representation and this was the muddy water of the river (the Colorado, I think). I hope that you think that my final solution from all these permutations is reasonably accurate.  




Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 24-70mm zoom f/2.8G ED

Focal Length: 60mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/1600s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 640



Please comment on the image or my comments. I would love to hear from you and share your thoughts with others.



Copyright Paul Grayson 2017 All Rights Reserved


Encore une vue prise d'un avion. J'avais déjà apprécié la précédente. Bravo pour le post traitement. On retrouve bien la couleur boueuse du Colorado qui donne l'impression de déteindre sur tout le paysage.
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