Welcome to the first part of my tutorials. I've decided to upload them in the chronological order of my editing workflow so there's a certain logic behind it. The first thing I usually do after importing the photos to Lightroom is to crop them. However this is mostly just to get an idea of the final photo and I almost always change the crop during or after editing. This post is divided into eight different "cropping styles"...
1. Normal Crop / Fitting the frame
Guess I don't have to say much about that. Of course you can choose a wider crop to include the tail and the wings but in this case I tried to get as little dead space (background) as possible. Just make sure you don't cut off the important parts, for example the fuselage or the landing gear (exceptions: see 3. Cut-off below).
An aircraft taken from the side should be centered. Or in other words: There should be as much space below as above the motif. The red lines could help you to find the center. In the left photo I marked the axis of the plane and on the right side I took the parts nearset to the sides as referenece points. But it's usually enough if you just estimate the center.
In case you position the aircraft off-center, there should be a visible reason why you chose to do so, leading me to the next category...
Of course there are several reasons why the main motif can be located off-center. Here are just a few examples:
If you are either forced to cut off a part of the aircraft due to an obstacle (e.g.) or if it didn't fit as a whole, make sure you find a good spot for the crop. Let's take for example the main landing gear. Wouldn't it look odd if only one of three wheels was visible? And don't forget about the small features. Like in the photo above, I always cut between two windows and in this case I even tried to avoid cutting off the titles. Details often make the difference.
You don't need one of these super-telephoto lenses to get some cool shots. Often photos look way better when there's not just the aircraft but also some "surroundings". It's also a nice way to avoid losing quality. I've learnt editing my photos with the help of the Airliners.net Photo Acceptance Guide (http://www.airliners.net/faq/photo_acceptance_guide/) and most of the tips were extremely helpful, especially if you're new to aviation photography. But if you edit your photos always like they "want" them (which I did for a long time), you'll miss out on something. Creativity. And distance is one of these creative aspects they don't really like...
All of the following categories are based on this topic so if you plan to upload your photos to airliners or jetphotos you better stop reading here ;-)
5. Direction of movement
Now this is hard to explain, even in my first language. But I'll try. The idea behind this is to leave some space empty, allowing the aircraft to "move" inside the frame. So basically it's a way to capture motion (the more common one would be panning). The space can either be ahead of the aircraft, indicating in which direction it's moving, or behind, showing where it's coming from. Might sound a bit strange but you should try it sometimes...
6. Rules of Thirds & Golden Ratio
Rule of Thirds: This might be one of the most used if not THE most used rule for photography. Although I have to say it's much easier to apply on landscape or portrait than aviation photography.
The idea is simple but very useful. You mentally divide the photo into nine equal rectangles by adding two horizontal and two vertical lines. Now in order to get an intersting shot, you position the important elements along these lines or near the four intersections. As you can see above I placed the aircraft and the tower near one of these intersections. And this photo is actually a very good example as it also includes three of the above mentioned cropping styles: distance (of course), direction of movement and off-center (yellow line).
Golden Ratio: I'm sure most of you have heard of the Golden Ratio or the Fibonacci Spiral before. I won't explain this here as it would take me much too long. And I'm also mathematically ungifted so you'd probably be even more confused afterwards...
I just want to show you how it can be used for photography. The Golden Ratio as used in graphic arts is basically a tool to make a photo (or painting) more attractive to viewers by creating a well-balanced composition. The spiral itself can be used as a leading line towards the main subject which is ideally located near the center of the spiral.
Speaking of leading lines...
7. Leading lines
Besides maybe the Rule of Thirds, leading lines might be the most effective compositional tools in photography. You'll find them in almost every photo and there's a good reason why. These natural lines help leading the eye of the viewer towards the main motif without having to draw a bold red arrow which says 'THIS is what the photographer wants you to look at'. As you can see, shadows work perfectly well for this puropse.
Now I'm not sure if this is a thing so I'll just call them 'imaginary reverse leading lines'. Instead of having some lines pointing towards the subject, I used them the other way round (leading away), as a reason to choose a wider crop. These red lines are supposed to illustrate the view out of the cockpit and as I was standing below the aircraft, these lines are pointing upwards into the sky. Hope this makes more or less sense...
This photo didn't really fit into any of the topics above so I came up with the very creative 8th category 'others'. The reason I left some space in front of the aircraft isn't 'direction of movement' (not only because it's parked). It's a way to keep the main part (fuselage) more or less in the center of the frame although the aircraft as a whole is now right-aligned. Without the extra space in front, the photo would be unbalancd and that's what we always want to avoid.
That's it. Don't take these "rules" too serious - it's just the way I edit my photos. Maybe it'll help you and maybe you have no use for it. Either way, thanks for reading! Feedback is very welcome...