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Alphabet Challenge - J is for Jets

Life has been pretty hectic recently and despite wanting to get out with the camera, I just haven't had the chance. I was in Manchester over the weekend and this provided an opportunity to visit the Runway Viewing Area at the Airport which something that I have been wanting to do for a while. I wasn't really expecting it to be too taxing photography wise and it was a great way to pass a couple of hour, as well as ticking off J.

With the R5's continuous autofocus and vehicle tracking, it was simply a case of pointing the camera at a plane and pressing the button. The conditions also appeared to be perfect in that there were a few clouds in the sky but it was really bright, which allowed for shutter speed between 2000th and 4000th second and iso's between 100 and 400. Lens wise the RF 100-500mm L was ideal and the even though it isn't the fastest of lens, it didn't really make much difference shooting at f7.1 at the longest focal lengths. It is really sharp and I am so pleased that I invested in one for my landscape work and occasional bit of wildlife photography.

What was a problem was the heat haze. I have had problems with this before when doing landscapes and to be honest, just put it down as an inconvenience and never really give it that much thought. As you can image the haze softens you images dramatically, which is a bugger when you want pin shape images.

Heat haze is an atmospheric condition that occurs when a body such as the ground is reflecting a lot of heat. It is caused by the difference in temperature between the hot body and cooler air around it. I guess when you add the heat coming out of the back of a jet engine on full take off thrust you have the perfect conditions for it.

Anyway, not being in any rush and with a steady stream of planes taking off and landing, I had the opportunity to do a bit of research and tried to find a solution. Bad news, there doesn't appear to be one. However, I did read that shooting at longer focal lengths does exaggerate the haze. So if you have this problem when out in the field, try to keep to short focal lengths. What I read appears to be accurate, as the images at 100mm were s0 much sharper and the haze was significantly less then when shooting at 300mm and 500mm. From my very unscientific testing, I would suggest that the haze doubles between 100mm and 200mm and so on. I have no idea if the effect would be different due to atmospheric and temperature changes.

When on location, I also took a series of images at 100mm with the intention of creating something a bit different in photoshop. You can see the result in the first image. It's always pretty rewarding when you have an idea and can bring it to life in post. There is nothing difficult in shooting this image, just keep t0 the same focal length then in photoshop create layers and move the planes around to balance the image. Actually, now that I know this idea works, I want to try it again at a shorter focal length so I can get more planes in. Maybe every airline departing Manchester over say 8 hours would look really cool?

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