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Old Dec 28, 2010, 10:53 AM   #1
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Hi there Sports & Action Photos folks

I wasn't sure whether to enter these photos in this section or another (e.g. transportation) - but I thought, given the nature of the photos, probably most appropriate here.

This evening (28 Dec 2010) I went to a nearby park- and there were 3 (grown) men flying their variety of model aircraft. Introduced myself to them, and it was really interesting to see them having fun and how the model planes can be flown.

I had fun capturing the photos. I've never taken photos of model aeroplanes before. These model aircraft really move once in the air (one at over 180 km/hr). And as they are so much smaller than the 'real thing'... it is quite challenging to compose when they're buzzing around close by. Real aircraft are much easier to capture! Hence it's fun and rewarding to get good photos of these.

I'll upload 10 here, and post another set some time later. All taken with Canon 7D and 70-300mm L.

Your comments would be appreciated! Thanks.

Paul

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Old Dec 28, 2010, 11:40 AM   #2
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Glad you had fun. You've got some decent stuff here for a first time. The biggest issue in these shots is the frozen props generated by such a high shutter speed. I know for full size planes, usually 1/160-1/250 is good. I don't shoot R/C though - but Mark1616 does - hopefully he can chime in with a recommended shutter speed for R/C aircraft. In general it's just not natural looking for the prop to be so frozen. You'll find the difficulty factor then goes up quite a bit - because your panning skills become more critical - if you're shooting with 1/5000 shutter speeds your panning skills don't matter so much. At 1/200 it can be tough - with such small subjects I imagine it will be a real challenge.

The second issue is exposure - some of these, like #9 are exposed quite well - and others like #3 are very much underexposed. The reality is you often have to sacrifice the sky to get the plane looking correct. It's the plane people are looking at so that's what needs to be exposed properly.

Again, you've got nice results for not having done this before. But getting the prop blur and getting proper exposures are the two areas that will take you the next step.
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Old Dec 28, 2010, 12:29 PM   #3
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Great to see you found something different to shoot and one of my favorite hobbies as well Spotted these on FB first then shot over here to see the exif etc LOL.

It's a hard thing to do isn't it?!

John is right about the shutter speeds, they need to be a lot slower. For RC aircraft going for 1/320-1/640s is good. This depends on the size of the aircraft and the type of engine/speed of the prop. Helicopters are a different game again, the shutter speed needs to be lower still. About 1/160s is a good place to be, this makes it harder to shoot, but with your lens then you might get a benefit of the IS being used for panning and hovering shots.

Hope you get out and play again with shooting some aircraft as I enjoy seeing them.

Moving on to the exposure, go for manual exposure and set it so you just about blowing the highlights then you should be good.
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Old Dec 28, 2010, 6:06 PM   #4
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Nice series Paul,

I agree with the above comments, but I was looking more at the sharpness of the lens

On that aspect all I can say is WOW. I like what you are getting with your new toy.
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Old Dec 28, 2010, 6:40 PM   #5
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Hi John

Many thanks for your detailed and very helpful comments. I admire your sports photographic skills, so I was actually thinking of you and a number of other Steve's Forum friends when I was taking these.

Yes, I really had fun, and your compliments for being quite good for a first timer of this type of planes (RC Rookie!) is much appreciated.

After the first few shots, I reviewed the photos on my screen- realising 'wow' those propellors move very fast! So I had my Camera set at ISO400 for nearly all the shots. I realised I could set my shutter speed slower but was worried that if it was too slow I might not get too many 'decently sharp' ones to look at later and think more about composition, etc.

So I'll lower the ISO and set slower shutter speeds to help... maybe using a polariser filter if the bare lens even at ISO100 is too 'fast' (because I guess I want the lens at around f5.6 to f8 still?) I know from e.g. taking car and motorbike motorsports photos there will be a different background blur from panning rather than shallow dof.

I'll aim to improve on the composition and exposure. I realise by looking at the photos that the exposure is good on photos 4, 6, 9 & 10 - but the others are under exposed by varying degrees.

Cheers!

Paul
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Old Dec 28, 2010, 6:56 PM   #6
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Hello Mark

Thanks also for your valued feedback. I will certainly look at lowering the shutter speed, to your recommendations... and see what we come up with.

I realised some blur of the props would be good, but I guess I was so excited 'out in the field' - I didn't think how much would look best. Most of the photos have some blue, and e.g. in photo 3, I like the amount of blur (even though the shot is underexposed). So yes, if I set shutter speeds way down to 1/320 to 1/640, that is a different ball park again - and I realise it would be that 'circular blur' at the front of the aircraft (distinct prop blades indistinguishable).

Do you use a CPL or ND filter, or do you open your lens up to f11 and use ISO100 (I realise it depends a lot on the amount of light - including angle of the plane to the sun)? Generally we have a lot more light here in Australia than you do in UK... so when the guys fly in winter, that might naturally help to slow shutter speeds. Most of these photos were at ISO400 and f5.6.

When I learned to take photos of kitesurfing, similar situation - being at a place (beach) where people enjoying their sports. I took some photos, then a few approached me and asked if I would upload to their website / forums. I reviewed my photos, learned quite a lot (also about exposure and timing of 'when' to get the photos they liked the best).

After another 'practice session' - with improved results, may I (hopefully) humbly add - I was then asked to be the official photographer for two state finals days, which the sports people participating in really appreciated the results. I sold some CDs of my photos to the guys ('mates rates') which helped make the involvement a bit more 'worthwhile'. (Easy to take many photos in one day from such events).

My 70-300mm L lens has 2 IS modes, 1 for stabilisation in general of stationary subjects, and 2 for panning (which the lens manual says "compensates for vertical camera shake during following shots in a horizontal direction, and compensates for horizontal camera shake during following shots in a vertical direction"). So I wonder if that means if I am following a plane at an angle (e.g. as it flies at 45 degrees upwards) - if it will be effective (the manual's wording is somewhat ambiguous). Maybe you (& John) can help with experience of IS mode 2 from some of your lenses?

So after yesterday I am learning about what makes for more powerful compositions for these RC photos - and next time/s will apply to use the shutter speed and exposure suggestions you and John (& Mugmar) make - to good use. Most of the planes were about the same size, except for one of the planes (which I will post in the next set) - which was about quarter the size of the others.

I think it's good to learn 'one aspect of each type of photography at a time', analyse what I did wrong, what I did well - that's how I've improved so far, and tell my 'photography students' when I give informal lessons to many folks (e.g. about landscape, wildlife and outdoor portraits - which are more my forte). So thanks for the 'tuition' here for this type of photography. It will be a challenge at slower shutter speeds... but I'm looking forward to it!

Paul
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Old Dec 28, 2010, 6:58 PM   #7
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Hi there Mugmar!

Your kind and appreciative comments are received with gratitude! :-)

I'm very glad you had a look at these photos too, because yes, I am very happy with the results of the lens, most were taken wide open and I do believe show great sharpness, which will be retained stopping down too.

The new toy (my lens) is certainly getting a work out. I look forward to hearing more from you soon. Have a great week and start to 2011!

Paul
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Old Dec 28, 2010, 7:18 PM   #8
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I never worry about a polarizing filter or anything, I just stop down and use a low ISO. Sunny 16 rule gives us ISO 100, 1/100s and f16. So at f8 you are at 1/400s which is good. If you need to go to f11 then still not an issue either. As you are shooting something small then DOF is still pretty shallow as you should be waiting to shoot close and at long focal lengths. If the plane isn't filling about 50% of the frame you are too far away.
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Old Dec 31, 2010, 1:26 AM   #9
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Cheers Mark, for the post.

I was being lazy, didn't calculate using the Sunny 16 rule... so thanks for being our Super Calculator too, as well as a Super Moderator, Lol!

Ok, I'll look forward to more practice in due course. Happy and blessed New Year.

Paul
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Old Dec 31, 2010, 5:14 AM   #10
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LOL, thanks Paul, have a great NY and 2011 too
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