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A Beginners Guide to Aviation Photography

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Thanks to “An Adventure in Awesome” for sharing.  Knowledge without application is meaningless –Thomas Edison

Part one: Some thoughts on Aviation Photography

Troll disclaimer. This is not the only way to photography aircraft and aviation events. This is information that I have learned and what works well for me. My tips and tricks may not work well for you. My goal is to share what I have learned with others. Knowledge without application is meaningless. –Thomas Edison

This is the start of series that would help someone start to shoot aircraft and aviation events more successful. This has been a project I have had in minds for years now. When I first had the idea, I wanted to do it as one lengthy article but never manage to find time to complete it. Now here, it will make a great series, giving me time to figure out topics, how to say as well as find images to support the post.

Tbird waving at Thunder

Before we go any further, there are two things I want to address. First, make sure you RTFM that came with your gear! And for those of you who are unwilling to read, you’re in luck. There is a wonderful website called YouTube where you can search the make and model of your gear and watch a video on how to use it. Before you start shooting anything with your gear, you should have a basic understanding of how to use it. I can’t stress enough how important it is to know how to use your camera and gear properly. Here’s the thing, I’m going to be using some basic terminology of photography like ISO, Shutter/Aperture Priority, F-stops to name a few and I’m not going to define or explain them. These are a few things you should know what they are as well as how to access them on your gear. Just because you own a camera, does not make you a photographer! And second, what gear you should have to shoot aviation events with. For most of us, this is a hobby and we do something else for a living. I know I do not have $10 to $15,000 to drop on gear and tell anyone who want to start shooting aircraft is unrealistic. That is why knowing how to use your gear properly is so important. Yes, having great gear helps but it is absolute useless unless you know how to use it properly. Like anything you buy, you get what you pay for. A $4600 camera body does far more than a $700 one. Buy the best that you can afford, learn to use it properly, find and work around its limits then grow into better gear.

Let me share with you my feelings about Aviation photography and want to get you to start thinking about how you feel about it. When I think about Aviation photography, I don’t think about all the airshows and aviation events I want to attend however I do think about a list of aircraft set in great lighting conditions where I can create unique images. For me, it is a passion. (going to have a future post on Passion and what it means to me) It’s something that if I was told that I could never shoot aircraft and any type of aviation event ever again, I would fight for my life to keep shooting what I love. It is something that I’m never going to stop trying to master. I love being behind my camera making new images as well as being around aircraft of any sort. Warbirds to modern fighters, from helicopters beating the air into submission to spotting airlines at the local airport. If it flies, I want to try a make a great image of it. I also feel that like any other art form, it should be creative and not just documenting aircraft and aviation events. Using elements of design to create visual interest, adjusting my camera setting to get a sense of motions along with telling a story.

Corsair at Thunder

This leads me into my first question for you, “What makes a great image?” I feel it comes down to three things, light, subject and the story behind the image. How well did you capture the light along with what does the image say? I’m no professional but I do know a great image when I see one. And in those images, the photographer mastered the exposure, composition and the image speaks to the viewers. You should not have to explain what the viewer is looking at. Great photos just don’t happen, Photographers work hard to make them. You’re going to have to work hard too. Here’s a helpful tip, collect images from photographer that you like and study they’re work. Collect them from Flicrkr, Instagram, 500pix even from their personal website. Books and magazines are also a great source to find image that you like. Ask yourself how did he or she shoot it? If you have a EXIF viewer and the data was not striped from the image, you can as least know what setting were used. What you will not learn is how they saw the image before they shot it. Your “eye” or creative vision is something that you and you alone must develop and nurture. Looking at photos from other photographers can help train your eye to start to see thing differently. It’s not going to happen overnight and you can read every book on photography about to how do so but it’s not going to matter until you try to put what you read into practice.

Every time I’m out shooting, I see other photographers and I ask myself “What’s going to make my images stand out from theirs?” This is the second question I want you to think about. For me, it forces me to get out of my comfort zone and do something different. Can I shoot from a higher location? How’s the light now V’s later? Go portrait or landscape? Always pushing myself and constantly nurturing my skills. Over the years of shooting, failing and learning, I’ve manage to build a collection of images I can call my own. A set of images that are well exposure, creativity composed and unique to me. Every show and event I go to, I try to add new images to my collection but it does not always happen. This is my approach to Aviation photography, to build over the long haul a set of images unique to me from my mind’s eye and from skills that I learned.

86 at Thunder

On to the last question I would like you to think about is, “What type of Aviation events are you interested in photographing?” There are many to choose from. Airshows, fly-ins, base visits and exercises, museum visits and finally, spotting. All of them offers different perspectives and opportunities to photographing aircraft as well as they have their own unique challenges. I enjoy warbirds and I attend airshows, fly-ins that are mainly cater warbirds as well as visit the museums where they are based. The internet is the best place to find out what is happening and when. Google is your smart friend, used and learn! I will talk more about each type of events in a future post in this series.

The reason why I started with these third questions and not jumping into what’s the appropriate settings and how to pick a show/event is that I wanted to get those deep and untapped juices flowing about how you’re going to approach aviation photography before you start shooting. Along with to get you to start thinking about what is it you’re shooting. Like any other art form, it is a learning process and it going to take time. You’re going screw up shots, use the wrong shutter speed, forget to switch back to your previous settings and totally forget with the sneak pass is coming! There will be plenty missed opportunities to come. It’s just another chance to get it right.

Row of mustang at Thunder

I’m going to cover in future post of this series is the different types of aviation event and what to look for while choosing an event, setting to get results, element of design, panning and spray & pray, chimping and why it helps, getting out of your comfort zone and I will retouch on sorting images.

Part one: Some thoughts on Aviation Photography Troll disclaimer. This is not the only way to photography aircraft and aviation events. This is information that I have learned and what works well for me. My tips and tricks may not work well for you. My goal is to share what I have learned with others. […]

via A Beginners Guide to Aviation Photography — An Adventure in Awesome

Why Do Your Wings Have Dihedral? | Boldmethod

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Why Do Your Wings Have Dihedral? – Bothmethod

If you look closely at the wings on most aircraft, they’re tilted up slightly. Why would they ever do that? It’s not because you pulled too many Gs on your last flight. It’s because of a design feature called dihedral.
primary
First Off, What’s Dihedral?
Dihedral sounds like one of those words you cringed at in math class, but it’s actually pretty simple. Dihedral is the upward angle your aircraft’s wings. Here’s a great example of wing dihedral on a Boeing 777:

boeing-777-dihedral

Why Do You Need Dihedral?

It all comes down to stability. If you didn’t have dihedral, you’d spend more time keeping your wings level. Here’s why:

dihedral-stability
When you bank an airplane, the lift vector tilts in the same direction as the bank. And when that happens, your airplane starts slipping in the same direction, in this case, to the right.

The problem is, if you have a straight-wing aircraft, there’s no force that will bring the airplane back to wings-level flight without you intervening. And while that may be good for an aerobatic aircraft or fighter jet, it’s not something you want in your general aviation aircraft or airliner.
How Dihedral Fixes The Problem

When you add dihedral, you add lateral stability when your aircraft rolls left or right. Here’s how it works: let’s say you’re flying along and you accidentally bump your controls, rolling your plane to the right. When your wings have dihedral, two things happen:

1) First, your airplane starts slipping to the right. That means the relative wind is no longer approaching directly head-on to the aircraft, and instead is approaching slightly from the right. This means that there is a component of the relative wind that is acting inboard against the right wing.
dihedral-overhead
2) Second, because the relative wind has the inboard component, and because the wings are tilted up slightly, a portion of the the relative wind strikes the underside of the low wing, pushing it back up toward wings level. What’s really happening here is the low wing is flying at a higher AOA, and producing slightly more lift.
dihedral-slip-rear
The more dihedral your aircraft has, the more pronounced the effect becomes. But for most aircraft, they only have a few degrees of dihedral, which is just enough to return your wings to level during small disturbances, like turbulence, or bumping your flight controls in the cockpit.
It’s Not All Good News: Dihedral Comes At A Cost

Dihedral isn’t always good, and like almost every design factor, it comes with a cost. In this case, there are two costs: increased drag, and decreased roll rate….

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Source: Why Do Your Wings Have Dihedral? | Boldmethod

The Thunderstorm Threat General Aviation News

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The Thunderstorm Threat

By ED BROTAK

With the onset of warmer weather, pilots face the increased risk of encountering thunderstorms.

Although more common in the warmer months, thunderstorms can occur even in the winter, especially in the southern states. It’s estimated that 100,000 thunderstorms occur in the U.S. each year. Some locations in southwest Florida have 100 storms a year, but thunderstorms do occur in all 50 states.

Thunderstorms are most common in the late afternoon, but can occur at any time of the day.

Technically called convective cells, a thunderstorm can cover an area from 200 to 1,000 square miles. Storms can range in height from 10,000 feet to over 60,000 feet. Individual cells can last from less than a half hour to many hours.

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF THUNDERSTORMS

There are different types of thunderstorms that develop under different conditions. “Air mass thunderstorms” typically develop in the late afternoon and evening due to the heat of the day. Development tends to be random, but they are more numerous over mountainous terrain. Although relatively weak, they can still pose problems and should be avoided. Fortunately, air mass thunderstorms tend to be slow moving.

Dr. Ed Brotak

A greater threat is posed by organized convection. These are stronger storms that often move quickly, up to 60 mph. They are often associated with fronts, especially ahead of cold fronts.

“Squall lines” form when convective cells develop in a line in response to prevailing atmospheric conditions. The line can extend for tens or even hundreds of miles. Although there are breaks between the cells, circumnavigation or remaining on the ground until the line passes is strongly recommended. Individual storms will die out only to be replaced by new cells, with the whole system lasting for hours.

MINIMIZING THE DANGER

It’s a good time to review the risks thunderstorms pose to aviators and what you can do to minimize the danger.

Many things are happening inside a thunderstorm cloud (cumulonimbus) that they pose a wide variety of threats to aircraft.

Lightning can certainly do some structural damage and affect electrical equipment inside a plane.

Hail, which can grow to the size of softballs, can damage windshields and the exterior of the aircraft. The occurrence of hail indicates sub-freezing temperatures at some height in the cloud.

Even with the warmth of summer, towering thunderstorm clouds easily reach and exceed the freezing level. This also means super-cooled water and the risk of icing is present.

One of the more subtle threats thunderstorms produce is erroneous aneroid altimeter readings due to the rapid pressure changes the storm induces. Readings may be off by 100 feet.

But by far the greatest risk is turbulence. Updrafts and downdrafts within the storm can easily reach 50 mph (73.3 feet per second) and can reach 100 mph (146.6 feet per second). Planes can literally be torn to pieces by the turbulence generated between the up drafts and down drafts.

Even if there is no structural damage to the aircraft, loss of control is a distinct possibility.

And obviously within the cloud, IMC exist and the risk of Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT), especially in uneven terrain, is great.

Movement and turbulence of a maturing thunderstorm (FAA graphic).

And keep in mind that convection can develop very quickly. What was VMC everywhere can quickly contain areas of IMC.

TROUBLE ALL AROUND

Dangerous weather conditions are not limited to within the storm cloud itself.

Turbulence above the cloud top can extend upwards for thousands of feet.

Interestingly, the massive core of the storm can actually act as a solid impediment to the prevailing winds, almost like a mountain. Clear Air Turbulence (CAT) can be produced in the air flow downwind of the storm and extend tens of miles.

Beneath the storm cloud base, conditions can also be treacherous. Blinding rain and even hail can extend to the ground. IMC conditions are common.

Extreme downdrafts, called downbursts or microbursts, can occur even without precipitation. Once these downdrafts hit the ground, they can spread out, sometimes for tens of miles, producing strong, shifting winds that can exceed 100 mph, and the dreaded wind shear.

Microbusts can product destructive winds greater than 100 kts. (FAA graphic)

BE PREPARED

Before you start your flight, your preflight weather check, including TAFs and FAs, should highlight any convective problems.

Particularly note any CONVECTIVE SIGMETS, forecasts that warn of dangerous flying conditions due to convection in the next two hours.

But keep in mind, it is impossible to predict exactly when and where thunderstorms will develop in advance. And convection can develop rapidly, sometimes in a matter of minutes.

Closer to takeoff, you can check the latest METARs and PIREPS to see if convection has been reported.

Weather radar is the best tool for locating and tracking thunderstorms. The heavy rainfall rates associated with convection are well depicted as areas of yellow, red, or even purple if hail is present.

Movement and changes in intensity can be determined by tracking storms over time.

Major terminals are well covered by land-based radar. Terminal Doppler Weather Radar can detect thunderstorms and even wind shear near an airport. Larger airports also have specialized wind shear monitoring equipment for the runways. Smaller GA airports are often not as well equipped.

IT’S UP TO YOU

It’s up to the pilot to determine thunderstorm risk. Fortunately with today’s technology, a variety of weather radar products are readily available over the Internet and there are even apps for smartphones.

Always check the time on any radar display you’re checking. Delays due to processing are common. The radar image you’re looking at could be up to 20 minutes old. In fast developing convective situations, that could be crucial.

If your aircraft is equipped with radar, it can be extremely helpful in convective situations. Current radar data is always available, allowing you to detect significant convection 300 nm away.

Source: The Thunderstorm Threat — General Aviation News

When Is a Non Precision Approach a Better Choice Than a Precision Approach Bold Method

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primary

When you’re picking an approach at your destination, you usually go for the precision approaches first. But is there ever a time when shooting a non-precision is better?
There can be, depending the ceiling, visibility, turbulence, ice, and how soon you want to get out of the clouds. But any time you choose a non-precision approach over a precision, you’re also taking on more workload, and opening yourself up to the possibility of a mistake while descending on the approach.
Seeing The Runway Sooner
Let’s look at this example in Olympia, WA. Runway 17 is in use. The visibility is 10SM, and the ceilings are overcast at 700′.
Looking at available approaches, the ILS to 17 is your first pick. But like most ILS approaches, you can also shoot a localizer only approach to runway 17 using this chart.olm-ils
What’s the difference? The ILS gets you down to 218′ above touchdown, and the LOC, which is a non-precision approach, gets you down to 433′ above touchdown.
Since the ceiling is 700′ overcast, both approaches with get you out of the clouds with no problem. But if you fly a localizer only approach, it can get you out of the clouds sooner, depending on your descent rate. Why would you want to do that? It can give you more time to visually orient yourself with the runway and surrounding area. And if you’re getting beat up by turbulence or picking up ice, it can give you, and your passengers, some added relief.
How Much Time Will You Spend In The Soup?
Let’s start with the ILS to 17. If you’re flying a 90 knot approach speed on a 3 degree glideslope, you’ll need to descend at roughly 450 feet-per-minute (FPM) to maintain the glideslope.There’s a pretty easy rule-of-thumb to figure that descent rate out. Divide your ground speed by 2, then add a 0 to the end. So if you take 90 knots / 2, you get 45. Add a zero to the end, and you get 450 FPM.
On this approach, glide slope intercept is at 2400′ MSL. Since TDZE is 207′ MSL, that means you’re roughly 2200′ above the touchdown zone when you intercept glideslope. And since the ceilings are 700′ overcast, you’ll need to descend roughly 1500′ before you break out of the clouds.
That means if you’re descending at 450 FPM on the ILS, it will take you roughly 3 minutes and 20 seconds before you break out of the clouds.
What If You Fly The LOC Only?
Now lets look at the LOC only approach. You know that the MDA of 640′ MSL (433′ above TDZE) is still easily going to get you out of the clouds. And if you increase your descent rate even slightly, it can get you out of the clouds sooner.When you cross the FAF, if you start a descent at 600 FPM, which is still a very reasonable descent rate, it will take you about 2 minutes and 30 seconds before you break out of the clouds. That’s 50 seconds sooner than shooting the ILS.

precision-vs-nonprecision-chart
non-precision
Making The Best Choice For Your Approach

In almost all cases, using a precision approach is the best choice. That’s especially true in low visibility. Following the glideslope on a precision approach means you know you’re at the right place, at the right time, all the way to DA/DH.

But if you want to get yourself out of the clouds to get oriented with the runway and surrounding area a little early, or if you’re trying to get yourself out of the clouds when there’s turbulence or ice, using a non-precision can do that for you. Just make sure you’re flying a stable descent, you’re ready to level off at MDA, and you’re prepared to make a stable descent from MDA to touchdown.

 ALL THANKS TO BOTDMETHOD FOR SHARING THIS WITH US

DA42 MPP Geostar

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All-in-one solution for Geo Survey and Mapping

Diamond Aircraft, known for the most efficient aircraft in the industry and state-of-the-art remote sensing solutions, puts another Diamond in the sky. For the first time, the new DA42 GEOSTAR enables collecting laser-scanning and photo-grammetry data during one single flight. The GEOSTAR is particularly suited for surveying cities, land areas, critical infrastructure (such as pipelines), glaciers or snow fields, but also for mapping damages caused through natural disasters.

Source: DA42 MPP Geostar

AIRBUS Adverse Weather Operations Windshear Awareness

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via AIRBUS Adverse Weather Operations Windshear Awareness — Egyptianaviators

KEY  FACTOR : 

Flight crew awareness and alertness are key factors in the successful application of windshear avoidance and escape / recovery techniques. This Flight Briefing Note provides an overview of operational recommendations and training guidelines for aircraft operation in forecast or suspected windshear or downburst conditions.

REAL DATA : 

Adverse wind conditions (i.e., strong cross winds, tailwind and windshear) are involved in more than 30 percent of approach-and-landing accidents and in 15 percent of events involving CFIT. Windshear is the primary causal factor in 4 percent of approach-and-landing accidents and is the ninth cause of fatalities.

Defining Windshear : 

Windshear is defined as a sudden change of wind velocity and/or direction.
Windshear occurs in all directions, but for convenience, it is measured along vertical and horizontal axis, thus becoming vertical and horizontal windshear:

Vertical windshear: − Variations of the horizontal wind component along the vertical axis, resulting in turbulence that may affect the aircraft airspeed when climbing or descending through the windshear layer − Variations of the wind component of 20 kt per 1000 ft to 30 kt per 1000 ft are typical values, but a vertical windshear may reach up to 10 kt per 100 ft.
 Horizontal windshear: − Variations of the wind component along the horizontal axis (e.g., decreasing headwind or increasing tailwind, or a shift from a headwind to a tailwind) − Variations of wind component may reach up to 100 kt per nautical mile.
Windshear conditions usually are associated with the following weather situations:

• Jet streams • Mountain waves • Frontal surfaces • Thunderstorms and convective clouds • Microbursts.

MICROBURSTS:

 Microbursts combine two distinct threats to aviation safety :cof

• The downburst part, resulting in strong downdrafts (reaching up to 6000 ft/mn of vertical velocity) •

The outburst part, resulting in large horizontal windshear and wind component shift from headwind to tailwind (horizontal winds may reach up to 45 kt).

Windshear and Aircraft Performance :

Headwind gust instantaneously increases the aircraft speed and thus tends to make the aircraft fly above intended path and/or accelerate ( item 1).

. A downdraft affects both the aircraft Angle-Of-Attack (AOA), that increases, and the aircraft path since it makes the aircraft sink ( item 2).

Tailwind gust instantaneously decreases the aircraft speed and thus tends to make the aircraft fly below intended path and/or decelerate ( item 3).

NOTE: 
Windshears associated to jet streams, mountain waves and frontal surfaces usually occur at altitudes that do not present the same risk than microbursts, which occur closer to the ground.

KEY FACTOR : Flight crew awareness and alertness are key factors in the successful application of windshear avoidance and escape / recovery techniques. This Flight Briefing Note provides an overview of operational recommendations and training guidelines for aircraft operation in forecast or suspected windshear or downburst conditions. REAL DATA : Adverse wind conditions (i.e., strong […]

via AIRBUS Adverse Weather Operations Windshear Awareness — Egyptianaviators

The 7 Hardest Parts About Becoming A Private Pilot 

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Everyone knows that crosswind landings are usually challenging for student pilots. But beyond landings (and money!), there’s a lot about learning to fly that can be pretty tough. Here’s what you should be ready for.

The 7 Hardest Parts About Becoming A Private Pilot

By Swayne Martin

Everyone knows that crosswind landings are usually challenging for student pilots. But beyond landings (and money!), there’s a lot about learning to fly that can be pretty tough. Here’s what you should be ready for…

1) Aircraft Systems
One of the toughest topics for private pilot students is aircraft systems. As less and less people grow up working on cars or around machinery, there’s diminishing knowledge behind what makes that engine turn.Want to know more about the systems and equipment in your aircraft? Dig into your POH and read section 7. Better yet, find a local A&P at your airport and have them walk you through a few systems with the cowling off. Getting hands-on with the equipment behind closed panels is a great way to learn how your airplane flies.

2) The National Airspace System
It’s more than identifying lines of airspace on a sectional chart. You’ll need to know what weather minimums exist at different altitudes (day and night), what your equipment requirements are, and what your communication requirements are.
We can help – give our National Airspace System course a try.

3) Learning Regulations
There are hundreds of FAA Regulations that govern how, where, and when you can fly. Some of them can be pretty confusing. As a student pilot, you’re just as responsible for adhering to the FARs as any fully certificated pilot. Keep yourself out of trouble and learn those regs!

4) Aerodynamics
A huge part of learning to fly is understanding the physics behind how it all works. But how can a strong foundation of aerodynamics save your life? One simple example is the lift to drag ratio for your airplane. At L/D max, or the best lift to drag ratio, you’ll find an approximate best glide speed.

5) Decoding Textual Weather
Whether it’s a METAR or PIREP, it’s your responsibility as a pilot to maintain your skills for decoding textual weather.
Need a refresher? Give our Aviation Weather Products course a try.

6) “Radio Talk”
Learning how to actively listen for your callsign in busy airspace with dozens of airplanes on-frequency is tough. Adding that to learning the correct verbiage provides quite the task for brand new student pilots. Here are some things you shouldn’t say over the radio.

7) Getting Into “School Mode”
First and foremost, getting your brain into a “school mode” can be tough, especially if you haven’t sat in a formal classroom setting in years. Learning to fly is undoubtedly fun, but there’s also a lot of work outside the cockpit.

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