Aviation Photography: How the Photos are Captured

Every once in a rare while, a lucky photographer is asked to capture an assignment like this. Ed Darack was asked to shoot a cover photo for the The Smithsonian’s Air & Space Magazine. Although a fascinating experience, it can also be extremely stressful and challenging with a lot of resources at stake due to the huge cost of making everything happen. Missing the shot is essentially not an option, take a look at the interesting process and how he has to fight against the g-forces to lean into the shot:

With so much at stake, Darack decided to first model his desired result in a 3D CAD program to formulate a plan of what we wanted to capture exactly. After receiving a pre-flight physical and ejection seat training in the case of an emergency, Darack strapped himself into an f-16 holding his camera.

When another aviation photographer, Justin De Rueck, takes to the skies, he is usually wielding his Canon 1D Mark IV. De Rueck says he works in Av or Tv and sticks with the same aperture until the light forces a change. By the looks of the video, being an honorary member of the aerobatic team is equally stunning and nauseating, as the photographer is forced to work through G-force, rapid twists, sharp turns, and at points flying upside down. Join De Rueck on a typical workday, here:

During this assignment to photograph an L-39 aerobatic team over Cape Town, South Africa, he outfitted his camera with a Canon 24mm f/4 lens, later switching out to a 16-35mm, and strapped himself in for the ride of a lifetime.

aviation photographer

Inside the Cockpit with an Aviation Photographer on Assignment

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3 Comments

  1. Denise Mauzy says:

    This would be such an awesome opportunity for a photo shoot! I learned last summer that I love taking photos at air shows, now that’s all I want to do! My husband and I are planning a couple shows for this summer, probably at Andrews AFB and possibly Prince Edward Island, if we can pull it off as a bike trip! I’d post one of my pics, but I don’t know how to do it here.

  2. This is a really dream come true for any photographer. Getting good photographs from the air would be ideal. With a fast lens and a good professional camera, the results would be awesome.

  3. JustAnotherClicker says:

    Big safety no-no – notice the violation throughout the flight? His chinstrap is completely undone and hanging loose. By the time the Pilot-in-Command yells EJECT EJECT EJECT and pulls his levers, De Rueck will still be fumbling at his neck. If he’s lucky, he’ll still have time to eject himself. Otherwise, he’s out of luck – unlike other aircraft, the L-39’s ejection system is self-commanded; some systems allow Pilot or Backseater to initiate ejection and both seats fire automatically – not on a stock L-39. Don’t know if the SAAF modified theirs…

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