Aviation

How To Show Speed

It’s always funny to me when my friends pick through a movie and point out was is possible and what isn’t. I of course at times do it too. Well some of the areas they pick on are ones that are easy to explain in photography. For example; last week my buddy Al was saying how in the Matrix you wouldn’t have the spiral bands as the bullets fire from the gun and are stopped by Neo. Well it’s Montana, of course they pick on gun references. I simply said, “Do you know how hard it is to show speed?” Having spent some time around planes, it’s pretty easy to see just how difficult it is.

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Whenever out working with planes, whether an air show or private shoot, one of the few images I always try for is one with the plane flying by and there is enough information in the background to make it look like it’s going fast. That’s why at airshows Dad and I are always hoping for clouds. Clean, simple, perfect. Howard Hughes said it best when filming Hells Angels, “with no clouds we have no sense of relative motion.” As you can see with the two images i posted you can see exactly that.

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The top image is boring as sin, at least in my mind it is. There is nothing in that image, besides the prop, that tells the eye that the plane is moving. In the bottom image the background information provides the look of speed. To me having some form of ground as the background works even better than clouds. Ground and buildings have more details and thus more info to blur out. A good challenge is to find those spots at the airfield where you can get above or level with the planes. That way you can achieve a more dynamic look with less work.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D4, 600 f/4, TC-17e, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

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