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Merlin pageant

By FanPilot
I took this photo a week ago and attempted to follow advice from fellow photographers in the forum here ... (I have a post on here that summarised the whole thing)

However, it has turned out not too hot... none of my photos have. Sad

Now, a tiny part of my problem may be a dirty lens (you can see some dirt on the lens just to the right of the prop on the right most plane), but I don't think that is the reason for the dull photo.

The Merlin pageant takes place in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire (where they developed the flying bedstead).

I may be going to Waddington next week to try more, but if I can't get sparkling photos, I might as well give up. What do I do to make it shine? Am I able to recover it in photoshop (taken in raw).

Tags: Transport Airshow

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


Chrism8 11 898 21 England
18 Jun 2011 5:00PM
FWIW, from the exif data, you've shot @ 1/200 sec at F14 with a 230mm lens setting, a good possibility for camera shake, go for the max shutter speed the conditions allow, open up the aperature to F5.6 / F8 or increase the ISO to 200 / 400.

The shot looks a tad hazy, was that the conditions, try a UV filter perhaps, perhaps also try Exp comp of 1.5



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strokebloke 9 493 17 England
18 Jun 2011 5:19PM

Quote: but if I can't get sparkling photos, I might as well give up.

David. Whatever you do. Don't give up. You're not going to improve that way.
We've probably all felt like that at some point, but there's absolutely no profit in it at all.
They're not the best aero shots in the world, but I've seen a lot worse. [I've taken a lot worse GrinGrinGrinGrin]
You've got the prop blur right: you've got space in the frame for them to fly into:
If you've got those shots in RAW you can certainly improve them.

Persevere David. I've seen some of your other shots in your Pf, and they're good

Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
18 Jun 2011 5:21PM
Hi David,
I've just seen your post in the forums, then stumbled upon this in here.
I won't step on anyone's toes by making suggestion re. how you might have improved upon this in camera but I can do a little better (and therefore, so can you) using Photoshop.
I've uploaded a mod. in which I've increased the contrast slightly using threshold/curves (thanks Willie!) and used the shadows/highlights tool to increase the blue in the sky, that's the highlights part and found some detail in the aircraft using the shadows part.
It hasn't escaped unscathed, the underside of the aircraft, although better detailed, show some damage. I'd imagine that you could do a far better job using a copy of the original but the idea's there!
strawman 14 22.1k 16 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2011 5:28PM
I am guessing that you used the aperture to get a nice and low shutter speed so the propellers are a blur, that aspect works.

Dull image well it looks like a set of blue/grey planes shot against a blue sky with the sun a bit high in the sky, possibly a bit behind the planes. So not the best for light on the planes which is what you will need to lift it a bit. Sometimes the subject, light conditions etc just do not work together.

I looked at the levels info and it is all a bit compressed, so I would have a go at playing with curves or the shadows/highlights tool to see if you can bring more info out on the planes and pull the highlights down. You could copy the image onto a new layer and then delete everything except the plane bodies and then you could optimise the image for the sky and planes on their own.

Composition wise I think you need to either be tighter into the planes or further back and a view where the smoke trails converge would help. Your view is too close to side on to work in my eyes.
FanPilot 7 46 2 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2011 8:15PM
Thanks all...

Chris, I used 200 to get prop blur, I could have gone a bit faster but then I would have lost the spin in the prop I think. I was with another photographer and his shutter was a bit faster than mine and his props were stopped. I was using Shutter priority. I had EV of +1. The weather conditions were not that great... a lot of cloud and it seemed to be that every time a plane went up, the cloud came over and the wind came.

I've not used a UV filter. I have a SKY filter on my lenses (mainly to protect them). I thought UV was for film mainly. Would I just replace my SKY filter? I do have a polariser, would that have made any difference?

Jack, thank you for the encouragement. A BIG problem I have is that I am an engineer and I seek perfection. I know there are faults in the pics in my portfolio, but it is a case of what is good for viewing and acceptable (if you see what I mean). I see such sparkling photos on here and think "How do they do that?" Some are quite cooked and some quite strong, that I am thinking my camera must not be working properly... though I think a lot of it is photoshop (which I know I am now getting a book for, for fathers day tomorrow).

Jester, I will try that on the original and see what I can do with it. All I did was to open it in my camera's raw convertor and save it out to jpg, then resized it for here... so effectively, straight out of camera. I guess I was trying to get the light right, in camera by following the adivce in the forum thread. (I wrote it all down, printed it and took it with me... then ended up giving it to my friend... so if it didn't work for me, it might not work for him). I don't know what all the items in the list are yet, though I will have a look and will upload a mod if I can get them done.

Strawman, I used shutter and set it to that speed, specifically to get prop blur. In fact, earlier in the day, I had the shutter slightly faster and took some of taxiing aircraft and the prop was practically stopped, so I slowed it down to get the blur.

The aircraft themselves are white with red decals (as can be seen on the website for the airshow). I am not sure about copying the layers and handling just the aircraft. I guess I will find out how to do that in the book I get tomorrow.

So, thank you all... I will take the comments on board. I am not sure if I will be able to get to Waddington next week, though I will try.
paulbroad 10 123 1240 United Kingdom
20 Jun 2011 4:56PM
As you well now, when shooting prop aircraft you need a slower shutter speed, can go to the faster settings for the jets. Your 1/200 is about right, but the problem is the milky effect. This could well be flare and that could be a dirty lens. For aircraft images I use my 50/500 Sigma hand held at 1/250 and get perfectly good results - it's the panning thing.

The blotch you mention is on your sensor, not your lens and will be tiny, but does indicate a clean soon due. you would need half a brick on the lens front to show as a blotch! ( I exaggerate!)

UV and skylight do the same thing - nearly. UV is clear glass, skylight has a faint straw colour to add some warmth to the expected blue from cloudless sky. either will do and are a must as lens protectors but MUST be clean. Just check the lens doesn't have dirt or a finger print on it's BACK element - I've seen it.

You really should try and not use auto exposure. If the lighting conditions remain similar, get a good exposure by trial and error on manual, then use that. I have a separate Seknoic hand meter and would use thatin incident mode at an air show. However, ISO 200 is 1/800 @ f8 in bright sun - near enough. So, 1/200 @ f16 gives the same exposure.

Check cleanliness, use manual exposure. Servo autofocus is good.

By the way, otherwise your shot is rather well done.

Caitlin98 7 9 England
11 Sep 2011 2:19PM
I agree with the other comments Smile I think it is a great shot! The vapour trails look really good,
well captured, don't give up,

Caitlin x
macroman 15 15.3k England
20 Nov 2011 6:49PM
One point, with the Sony A100 I usually use the continuous shooting mode for airshow work.
Otherwise, as I have found from previous experience, the best shot is usually the one where you have missed part of the wing, tailplane or some other bit of the aircraft. Using continuous at least gives you a fair chance of getting it right.
He sony will keep going till the card is full or the battery is flat. Grin

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