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Old Jun 29, 2004, 9:07 PM   #1
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My first attempt at air show shots with my new Digital Rebel was disastrous. I pushed the ISO too far (1600) and set the shutter too fast (1250) thinking I would need the faster settings to capture the 300+mph jets flying overhead. The sky was overcast which made metering the fast moving subjects a nightmare. The results were, duh, very noisy, underexposed subjects, and white-out background.

Next week I will have a chance to redeem myself at the Blue Angels show in Pensacola. Soooo......please, all you pros out there, if you have any tips to offer this exposure challenged amateur, I would greatly appreciate it.

The attached file was enhanced with levels in Photoshop Elements. Painful to look at.
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Old Jun 29, 2004, 9:17 PM   #2
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i would NOT say painful....if it weren't for the noise, it would be a great shot....the timing is great..it's sharp, just noisy...

Vito

sry i can't help..lol...

are you any good at panning?
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Old Jun 29, 2004, 9:32 PM   #3
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It's better to have got the shot than none at all!

Have you discovered NeatImage? www.neatimage.com

It can clean up high ISO noise almost magically. You lose a bit of fine detail, but adding USM in PS after gets it back to perceivably the same.
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Old Jun 29, 2004, 9:35 PM   #4
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Try running the non-adjusted images through Noise Ninja

http://www.picturecode.com

or Neat Image

http://www.neatimage.com

These programs are designed to help reduce high ISO image noise.

Next time don't go beyond ISO 400. The use of an IS (image stabilized) Canon lens will let you shoot at slower shutter speeds, the EF 75-300mm IS is not too expensive. I used the EF 28-135mm IS with the D30 and D60, also a great lens.
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Old Jun 29, 2004, 10:11 PM   #5
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Thanks for the helpful clean up hints, but I'm over those bad memories. I want to make the next photo opportunity count and not rely on the digital darkroom so heavily. Also, I wish I had the $$$ for a better Canon lens with the image stabilizer, but sending 2 kids to college this fall is breaking my piggy bank.

I will definitely set the ISO lower and slow down the shutter. Any other suggestions, especially regarding metering with the D-Rebel? And in response to the question about panning - I'm pretty good with it, but I tend to snap off way too many shots when I'm panning. I need to buy more CF cards - maybe the kids can do without lunch for a few weeks.
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Old Jun 29, 2004, 10:29 PM   #6
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nice shot there! i like the expressions

cf cards aren't too expensive....a 256 for about the cost of two lunches for the family

especially at the air show! lol

Vito
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Old Jul 2, 2004, 4:34 PM   #7
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Yike - and that was a great shot!

I used to use ISO 400 film at airshows, and generally set a +1 exposure comp coz I'm interested in the planes not the sky! So the same sort of settings should suit with digital, no?

As for shutter speed, yes the planes are doing 200-300 knots, but you *can* pan the camera with the passing plane so you only need the shutter to allow for a differential, not the whole speed. Except for nose-to-nose shots of course.

I've done one airshow since getting the 300D - but I'd only just got it at that time so it's not really indicative. Before that it was manual focus apperture prio on the Contax 139.

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Old Jul 4, 2004, 2:15 AM   #8
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Katki,

I've about 20yrs experience with air shows and horse racing photography....all with a film SLR.

Air shows aren't really that hard with a little practice. Your shutter speed, as you realised, was way over the top. 1/500th should have been fine with a shot like that. Those aircraft weren't going quickly in that particular shot, and everything was moving at the same speed.. i.e. there is no differential or reverse direction movement of any part of the subject**.

**Unlike horses where their legs may be moving backwards relative to the direction of travel...and the jockey up and down.

The main thing with the air show is planning. You need a position on the frontline opposite the display centre mark. You need to check that your panning of the aircraft will not include any masts, poles, crowd headsetc in line of shot anywhere you might press the shutter.

Exposure should be a doddle with digital as you can review between aircraft passes. Remember with film I might arrive home with 100-200 shots with no idea how they would turn out for 48hrs.

If the weather is settled the exposures will be broadly the same for long periods and similarly there will be little difference in exposures for each different aircraft. If you want to get some exposure testing shots get them with a helicopter as you'll have less worry with movement issues.

Broadly speaking there are only three times to press the shutter for each pass. When the aircraft is slightly head on but almost at the closest, when it is dead side on, and immediately after with a hint of a tail shot as it goes away.

Outside of these positions nearly in front of you shots will be mostly beyond all but the pro cameras/lenses due to the distances. Having said that I would love to have been using digital for all my time at air shows, the post capture cropping and enhancement would have been brilliant for those shots Icouldn't resist takingwith aircraft too far away!

I wonder what lens you have on your Rebel, and what zoom it was set to?

Good luck with the next show.

David
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Old Jul 4, 2004, 10:45 AM   #9
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Your comments certainly made me realize that I have not been maximizing the full benefits of shooting digital. I should be checking my LCD between shots, but I tend to get caught up in the action and try to experience more through my own eyes than looking through the lens. However, one drawback I have found with my DRebel is the LCD brightness can only be adjusted down to a level that is still brighter than the actual exposure. I need to rely more on the histogram.

As for my lens, I used a Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6 with a focal length of 300mm for each air shot. My drive mode was set for continuous shooting (2.5 fps), which I utilized while panning. I shoot in RAW format so I have to pace myself with the continuous shooting, otherwise, I get ahead of the memory recording capacity.

I am not a pro photographer and not important enough to rate a position front and center for any show, so I try to find a spot near the far edge of the crowd. This seems to work fine since the show is high overhead and there are no obstructions.

Would anyone be willing to offer some suggested exposure settings for a few possible scenarios at the next air show? ie - 1) overcast sky, mid afternoon; 2) partly cloudy sky, mid afternoon; 3) clear, blue sky, mid afternoon. I'm really not clear about how toget a good exposure on the aircraft without blowing out the sky (part of the noise issue on my image came from the levels adjustments in Photoshop that I needed to compensate for an underexposed subject). I need a starting point and feel totally baffled by all the setting possibilities.

Thanks.
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Old Jul 4, 2004, 1:51 PM   #10
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You have a fantastic lens and camera to start with, in some ways that level of options and ability makes it harder to start. When the grounding was on moresimple gear "in the old days" the basic skills were established before the complexity was added.

There are several ways folks could advise you start this, but rather than us tell you settings we might estimate why don't you start like this.

First forget the RAW mode, just set maximum resolution and best quality compression to save as jpegs.

Then find one of those big signs on a pole beside the road (shaped rather than a flat board if possible) and park up far enough away so the sign looks about the same size in the viewfinder or on the LCD as the aircraft would at a show from where you stand.

Set the camera to auto and take some images, use the +/- ev exposure compensation to experiment with a figure that exposes the sign against the sky.

Now try shutter priority set to 1/500th or thereabouts. Again use theexposure compensation to get a decent exposure of the sign.

Next use the above shutter priority settings with the exposure compensation at the figure that gives the best exposure... then trymanual control of the ISO to see what the results are at say 100/200/400/800.

Play about with any combination of the abovefrom both sides of the sign, ie..sun facing and sun behind you.

Then go home, download the images to the PC and look at theresults withtheir metadata.

I think you'll then have a very good idea of what you need for the next air show.

Edit: By the way I would start off in single shot mode at the next show. It should be sufficient for this type of imageand will at least teach you when the image capture happens compared with when you pushed the shutter button.

David

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