A Beginners Guide to Aviation Photography

This has been something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time now. Years in the making and I’m finally wrapping my head around how to present it into easily digestible and snack-size portions. It’s something I wish I had when I started my journey into Aviation Photography myself. A guide driven by years of experience to steer my boiling-over energy in an enlightening and fruitful direction. If you shoot Canon, Nikon, Sony, or whatever, I want this guide to offer the same advice for any aviation enthusiast that wants to begin photographing aircraft.


This is not the only way to photograph aircraft and aviation events. This is information that I have learned over the years that helped me better my skills while photographing aircraft and it may or may not work well for you. If you’re just getting into photography, this is not for you. This is not a guide on teaching the fundamentals of photography. But it is intended to guide someone who has an understanding of the principles of photography and wants to start photographing aircraft and aviation events.

Part One: Starting Your Journey

I’m sure you have a great many questions, and I will try my best to answer them all. But I want to begin by asking you some of my own. And hopefully, with your answers, you can use them as a compass as you begin this adventure. Questions such as, how do you define Aviation Photography? What are you trying to accomplish? And finally, what type of Aviation events are you interested in photographing?

When I ruminate about Aviation Photography, I don’t think about the countless airshows and aviation events I want to attend. But I do continually ponder how am I going to capture unique photos of vintage aircraft from my ever-growing list. From new restorations to specific heritage flight combinations. For me, it is a passion that is an inseparable part of my being. So much so, that somehow if it became illegal to photograph aircraft, I would be an enthusiastic hardened criminal. I would fight to the bitter end to continue to do what I love. It is something that I’m never going to stop trying to master. But that’s how I define Aviation Photography. So, “How do You define it?” There’re no wrong answers. Make it whatever you want it to be. If it’s seaplanes, gliders, helicopters, warbirds, commercial airliners, business jets, or whatever…. Shoot what you love. It will show in your images.

On to the next important question, What are you trying to accomplish with your Aviation Photography? Are you trying to capture every major airliner that flies in and out of your local airport? Or do you want to capture your experiences at air shows and aviation events? Maybe you’re combining your love of aviation with photography. It could be as simple as wanting to try something outside of your comfort zone. Again, only you can determine what it is you’re trying to achieve. If you don’t know what you want to accomplish but you still have the urge to go photograph aircraft, don’t give up. Keep experimenting with different events and venues until you discover Your Path on this new photographic journey. I’ve always felt having a sense of purpose while behind your camera is important when creating images and produces far better results than aimlessly wandering around hoping for something interesting to happen.

And the last question I want you to consider is “What type of Aviation events are you interested in photographing?” Aviation Photography offers many different perspectives and opportunities to photograph aircraft and they each have their own unique challenges. Some are fast-paced, and others are laid back and slow. If you’re unsure about what type of events you want to attend, I would say go to as many different types as possible. Just don’t restrict yourself to just one type. In Part Two of this series, I will at length discuss the many types of events within Aviation Photography.

With your answers, hopefully, you have discovered Your definition of Aviation Photography, have some sense of purpose, and have an idea of the type of subjects you’re interested in photographing. If you’re asking yourself, why did I start with a series of questions and not jump into what’s the appropriate settings to shoot jets along with a list of must-see shows or events? Because you wouldn’t learn anything, nor would it help you grow as a photographer. To creatively envision a shot, then relentlessly chase after it and successfully capture it is far more rewarding than hoping on getting lucky. Like other art forms, this is a learning process and it’s going to take time. Some learn faster than others but remember it is not a race. This is YOUR journey into Aviation Photography. Travel it well at your own convenient pace. But understand along the way you’re going to screw up a bunch of shots, use the wrong settings, pick terrible shooting locations, and totally forget about the sneak pass. And that’s absolutely fine as long as you learn from your mistakes. Remember, anyone who calls themselves an “Aviation Photographer” has made the same mistakes you’re going to make. And if they say they haven’t, they’re a fucking liar.

Until next post,


All images in this post were shot on iPhone 11 Pro Max.

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Simple Build Stand

While I was building my two phat Greek scooters, I needed a second build stand. Something that gets the model up and away from the chaos of the workbench. My first thought was to find the Etsy seller of the first build stand I bought and reorder another. And after looking at it, I figured I could just build one. Took some rough dimensions, gather the supplies needed and got to work. Here’s a list of supplies you would need. Some foam core, a straight edge, straight or T-pins, a ruler or scale, some form of writing utensil and a hot glue gun. I build in 48th scale so my base is 285mm long X 200mm wide (11 1/4in X 8in). The three supports are 100mm tall X 50mm wide (4in X 2in) with a triangle brace. You can scale your stand up or down to suit your build needs. I strengthened the underside with two strips of foam core crossing corner to corner. You can see the T-pins are used to connect the supports to the base. I did some layout lines on the bottom to find the centerline and spacing for the two wing supports. The only support I made different is the front one. I made a cutout for the nose of a model would rest in the cutout and prevent it from sliding side to side. For my scooters, the cutout was too deep. So, I put a little pad to raise it up. It took me about 20 minutes from start to finish. Thanks for looking!

Quick & easy seamless desktop photo backdrop 

Have you ever wondered how people took pictures of their models with a seamless single-color background? The secret is having a curve in whatever material you are using for a background. And I’m going to show you how to make a simple and inexpensive one. You’re going to need a couple of pieces of foam core or cardboard, a straight edge, an X-Acto blade, a pen, a hot glue gun, some double-sided tape and a solid color sheet of paper. The thicker the better. For mine, I used a Letter size sheet of glossy photo paper. Whatever size you choose, you’ll need to hot glue two pieces of foam core or cardboard at 90 degrees. And to support it as well as keep it from falling back, hot glue two support/legs to the rear of the vertical wall of the backdrop. Now place two strips of double-sided tape to the base. One should be on the edge and the other about 24mm(1in) parallel to it. It is crucial that these two pieces of tape are parallel. As the second piece of tape is where the curve is going to start. If this piece of tape is not parallel and if its wiggly, it’s going to bitch up your background curve. To find the location of the third piece on the vertical wall, hold your piece of paper at the edge of the base and gently flex it into shape. Keep in mind you want to have a flat section before the curve. This section is where you will place your photo subjects. Now mark a line on the vertical wall where your piece of paper ends. Making sure it runs high enough so when you are taking pictures, it will fill the frame. Place the double-sided tape, making sure they’re all straight and parallel to one another. The order in which I removed the backing of the tape was, the two on the base then the one on the vertical wall. Now comes the tricky part. Lift the edge of the paper carefully to remove the backing of the last piece of tape. Don’t flex it too much and put a crease in it. You want to have a seamless defect free curve. Now just setup your lights, put your camera on a tripod and shoot away. I made mine this size so it could easily fit on my workbench so I can take some “In Progress” shots and keep working without making a production out of it. This way I didn’t have to stop what I’m doing, relocate to my so-called “shooting area”, set everything up, shoot, then locate back to the workbench to continue working. You can scale it up to any size to meet your needs. If you go larger, I recommend using something stronger like Gator board or Masonite for the base and vertical wall. Along with styrene or some other sheet plastic for the background curve. And to secure it into position with your favorite two-part epoxy. If you struggle with photographing your models, you may want to look into this post, “Photographing Scale Models”. Hope you found this useful and helpful.

Build what brings you joy,


The Hobby called “Sanding”

Love it or hate it, it’s an important part of building. From addressing joints to polishing clear parts, all are some forms of abrasives. And since sanding covers a wide range of areas, there’s a matching range of sanding options. There are myriad types of papers one of my favorites is sanding sponges. (3M softback😉) Another favorite of mine is a flat surface with a piece of sandpaper glued to it. It’s wonderful for flattening two mating pieces to create a joint that visually disappears when done correctly. Finally, sanding sticks. My favorite source is nail files from beauty supply stores. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go to a beauty supply store to get them. Shop online! I’ve found they are far less expensive than the “Hobby” brand ones. But they will not meet all your sanding stick needs. Companies like Alpha Abrasive and Flex-I-File have tons of specialty products to get to those hard-to-reach areas. And if they can’t meet your needs; you can always make your own. With a box of tongue depressors, some spray glue or double-sided tape, along with your favorite sandpaper, a straight edge, and a hobby knife, you can make any shape you wish. Keep busy and happy modeling!


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