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on Jun 2, 2011 in Aviation

The Toughest Client – The Self Portrait

In aviation photography, the self portrait taken while doing an air to air is called The Hero Shot. Not sure where the name came from but I was in desperate need of a new self portrait, aviation style so this seemed like a great opportunity to work on it. So, have YOU ever taken a portrait of a person with a fisheye lens? Well, if you look up good portrait lenses, the 16Fish doesn’t usually make the list unless you’re trying to make someone look really funny. What it does to eyes and noses is just not complementary. But in aviation when it comes to The Hero shot, it is the lens!

The top shot shows the first thing you must guard against, putting yourself on an outside edge of the photo. While it’s not a total distortion of the face, it’s not perfect. Since we are the best judges of what we look like, we know when it’s right or wrong. Moving past that, there is the light and the story. You have the subject, that’s you of course since it’s a self portrait, but you need to be in good light. When you’re in a plane that’s flying around, the lighting never stays the same. The best light often is when it’s in your eyes so to make the most of that light and not have slittie eyes, I wore sunglasses. And the story, I was torn between it looking like I was being flown or I was flying. I’m still torn after seeing the final images. I do like seeing Mike in the background and his being smaller in the frame make him part of the story of a great flight.

Of these three, this bottom one I like the most. I’m smilin, that’s a rare photo but when I’m in the air, I smile all the time. I like the story being told but most importantly, I like the drama in the lighting. Did I know at the time I went click that was the lighting pattern? Not at all. Did I have a guess as we turned back into the sun but I didn’t know. I did move my head about with the plane, made sure my hair was in the slip stream to make it look as good as I can, but otherwise it is by guess by golly shooting. As for the actual picture taking, the D3x with the 16Fish was held with both hands (real tight) up against the wind screen. I put it dead center. I then would place myself centered in the cockpit because being a plane, those things are all squared up. The only trick was getting the finger on the shutter release.

Photos captured by D3x, 16Fish on Lexar UDMA digital film