How’d you do that?

Here’s a bit of “How do you do that?” when it comes to pictures.

Trails over BOS

Trails over BOS

How do you get a shot like this? Long exposure, of course. The precise time depends on how far away you are and how long it takes the plane to travel across the frame. Here, about 25 seconds worth of exposure. Since it was still fairly bright out, I had to hold the ND filter in front of my lens to cut out a lot of light. Remember kids, step-up rings are your friends! Since I didn’t have a 55-77mm step ring, I had to hold the filter in front of the lens. It worked out pretty well.

Some jets do this better than others. Widebodies, of course, have lots of lights, and give lots of trails. Regional jets have much fewer lights and therefore do not look as interesting. You could get some kind of “ghostly” effect by using a flash, but I wouldn’t recommend using a flash around anything to do with an airplane unless you aim it at the butt end.

Sunsets like nice warm colors so feel free to bias your white balance towards the warm end, but not TOO warm. Also, with short enough focal lengths and a deep enough ND filter, you could shoot this at, say, f/5.6 and cut down on some of the starbursts if you’re finding that they get too obnoxious.

PAPIs (the four red lights on the left) and runway ending lights (the two white lights at the end of the runway) are either continuous or strobe once per second, respectively, and these can cause flare. Make sure to use a good flare-resistant lens under these circumstances.

You also need to make sure the winds are fairly calm or have a super beefy tripod. 20-25 second exposures will be ruined by lots of vibrations.

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