The Trouble with Props

I am not referring to props as in objects used to compliment a photograph but props as in propellers on airplanes.  The Kwik Fill Rochester International Airshow in Rochester, New York had a mix of jets and prop planes.  For that reason, I was using Shutter Priority mode.  When a new plane took to the air I had to remember to change my shutter speed for the type of plane.  Why would I need to do that? See below.

When shooting propeller or prop airplanes, you need to slow down the shutter or the prop is frozen (left).  When the shutter is slowed down, the prop show motion and looks like a moving plane.

When shooting propeller or prop airplanes, you need to slow down the shutter or the prop is frozen (left). When the shutter is slowed down, the prop shows motion (right) and looks like a moving plane.

If you photograph a prop plane with a fast shutter like 1/1000th of a second, it freezes the prop and the plane looks frozen in the air.  Not a good look for a flying plane. By slowing the shutter down to 1/200th of a second or slower, the prop becomes a blur and the plane looks like it is flying.

Here is a WWII P-51 Mustang fighter called Quick Silver streaking across a cloud filled sky. The blurred prop really makes the plane look as fast as it was going.

A P-51 Mustang called Quick Silver flying at the Kwik Fill Rochester International Airshow in Rochester, New York on Sunday, August 17, 2014.

A P-51 Mustang called Quick Silver flying at the Kwik Fill Rochester International Airshow in Rochester, New York on Sunday, August 17, 2014.
Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/200s, f/20, ISO 200, EV 0, 400mm focal length, cropped.

I tried slower shutter speeds but the older Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED AF VR Zoom lens and I were not up to the task. Still, I like how the B-25J WWII bomber named Panchito, after the feisty rooster from Disney’s animated musical The Three Caballeros, and a member of the 396th Bomb Squadron, 41st Bomb Group, 7th Air Force, stationed in the Central Pacific came out.

B-25J “Panchito,” named after the feisty rooster from Disney’s animated musical The Three Caballeros, was a bomber with the 396th Bomb Squadron, 41st Bomb Group, 7th Air Force, stationed in the Central Pacific flying at the Kwik Fill Rochester International Airshow in Rochester, New York on Sunday, August 17, 2014.

B-25J “Panchito,” named after the feisty rooster from Disney’s animated musical The Three Caballeros, was a bomber with the 396th Bomb Squadron, 41st Bomb Group, 7th Air Force, stationed in the Central Pacific flying at the Kwik Fill Rochester International Airshow in Rochester, New York on Sunday, August 17, 2014.
Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/200s, f/16, ISO 200, EV 0, 400mm focal length, cropped.

While I was panning for these photos, without any background objects close to the planes, you do not see any sense of motion behind them.  I hope to photograph more airshows in the future.

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One Response to The Trouble with Props

  1. Truels says:

    Great photos of these lovely propeller aircrafts, and interesting information about photographing them. It´s a long time since I´ve been blogging (or photographing!) much – but now I´m trying to catch up on things …..

    Like

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