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on Mar 13, 2018 in Aviation

Aviations Dirty Little Secret to Cool Photos

captured by D5 / 70-200f4

Yep, there is a dirty little secret to those killer aviation photos you’re not going to learn in the hangar or hear on the flight line. Lean in close to your monitor as I whisper the secret because I don’t want to be the one blamed for letting out the secret. You ready, here is comes … LIGHT!!! Yep, that’s the dirty little secret you’re not supposed to know about, at least that seems to be the case with the photos that I’m often asked to critique. What’s missing is … light! And we’re not talking about any old light, oh no!!!

P-51D Mustang
captured by D750 / 24-70VR

We’re talking sexy, provocative, tasty, mysterious, sculpting light! It’s light we further tweak with exposure and white balance in the camera and in post, we lower the blue saturation in ACR to remove that color cast from the top flight surfaces. And most of all, there is BLACK! Now, this light does not only happen at sunrise or sunset, rather some of the best happen at midday (like the P-51D photo) when clouds come in as God Skrims not only sculpting light but bringing the story to an aircraft. While sexy on their own, that sex appeal has a limited audience when it’s just a plane photo (had to use the bad pun, sorry) and you say in your photo with boring light, “yawn, Here’s a plane.” But with that magic of light kissing that airframe, you’re then saying in your photo, “screaming, HERE’S A PLANE!” It makes all the difference in the world which is why it’s aviation dirty little secret to cool photos.

Cub – captured by D5 / 70-200f4
P-51D Mustang – captured by D750 / 24-70VR