Airliner Window Photography

Last week Stick’s contributions in the Readers Submission sections were really interesting and I had a few emails asking if it was possible to get decent captures from your window seat on a common airliner.

In truth it’s not that easy and it requires some setup and decent post processing skills.  Lets look at a few images and talk about them.

Airline window photography

This was shot coming into Hawaii at about daybreak.  It was dark so I set the camera up at ISO 1600, used my pillow to brace my camera in the window frame, and as we came in to land captured this image of Pearl Harbor.  Because you’re shooting through inches of thick, curved and scratched/abused plastic window.. contrast is really poor.  To compensate for the lack of contrast be sure to shoot at about a 45 degree angle to the window and pump up your contrast during post processing.

Airline window photography

With this image you can see the jet engine to the left.  Another long exposure minutes before landing and careful post processing.

Airline window photography

Even when shooting through a very thick window from an airliner paying attention to the direction of light is important.  I had my nose glued to the window for a good hour watching the rising sun bounce off the clouds and waiting for an interesting shot.  When this scene appeared I didn’t waste any time in making the capture and just seconds later the reflected light and colors disappeared and everything went grey once again.  This is one of my favorite images from this genre and the full size print is stunning.