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  35 Votes (4.51 Average) and 2,850 Views  

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Boeing 737-700 (N455WN)


The dawn light is beginning to brighten up the sky and a bit of sunlight is being reflected from the upper story windows of a downtown Reno casino as Southwest's N455WN accelerates along Runway 16R to end its RON stay and start another revenue day.


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Gary SchenauerPhoto Uploader
Catching the departures of the 23 aircraft that RON at RNO means arriving at the airport by 5:30 AM, but it's worth the loss of a couple hours of sleep to get the early dawn and daybreak shots.
Gavin Hughes
Alright now, I have to know - what settings are you using in that light to create a good shot? There doesn't appear to be much noise and the aircraft is nice and crisp, the movement is sweetly blurred and the lighting gives the right impression for the early morning.
Viv Pike
Excellent shot, Gary.
I am going to take a wild flying guess here. ISO 600, f/4, 1/1000 sec.
Gary SchenauerPhoto Uploader
Gavin & Viv ... Hey, guys, howdy! Here's the info re: settings. Viv, 2 out of 3 so very well done. (Grin)
First, to explain a bit, RNO is positioned between two mountain ranges. To the west, the Sierra Nevada; to the east, the Virginia Range. As a result, on clear (non-cloudy) days, both at sunrise and then again at sunset, when the sun is either just appearing or finally disappearing at the earth's horizon, it is "behind" one of those two mountain ranges. Thus, even tho there is some sun, because the mountains are blocking it in its earliest moment of dawn or its final moments of dusk, the airport and the city are in darkness. After several years of "trial and error," I've figured out the settings I need when taking shots at those "first light" and "last light" moments.
ISO? 800. That's the highest I go. Yes, I do get a bit of noise at that setting but it is minimal. PS has an editing tool that performs "REDUCE NOISE." Using that feature does, in fact, reduce the noise that occurs at an ISO 800 setting .... the important thing for you to do is isolate (with the magic wand) just the area you want to use the REDUCE NOISE feature on (such as just the sky). REDUCE NOISE simultaneously degrades the pinpoint clarity of everything it is used on, so if you REDUCE NOISE of the entire photo, the sharp clarity of the main object (the SW in this pic) is also degraded. So use the magic wand to outline and isolate the area you want the noise reduced on, and the main object remains sharp and clear.
f/4.5 for this shot, but I vary it between f/4.0 and f/5.0 depending on how much darkness. My primary problem here at RNO during twilight / nighttime hours are those da_n High Pressure Sodium lights. I've heard that RNO has a retrofit to LED lighting in the plans for the future but I've not heard any date given for that retrofit. When I'm shooting from the east as seen here, those crummy HPS lights backblast every pic with that lousy yellow lighting and turn the aircraft in the foreground into just a shadow. If I adjust to illuminate the aircraft in the foreground, the HPS lights blow out everything in the background. When shooting from the west, the HPS lights give everything in the foreground a yellow "overcast" and the aircraft in the background is always poorly lit ... and the mountains in the distance, from either direction, cannot be discerned at all. As a result of the above circumstances, I need a very, VERY slow shutter.
Shutter: 1/80th for this shot but I vary it from 1/40th to 1/160th. I have no option but to use a slow shutter. If I were to go to ISO 1600 I could use a faster shutter but I'd had more noise and I'd have to increase the % of REDUCE NOISE; thus, simultaneously softening the original clarity too much. If I go higher on the f stop, the combination of those High Pressure Sodiums and the sky getting brighter but the airport not at all illuminated by any sunlight means I lose much (or all) of any interesting background(s). The only way I can get a distinguishable, sharp, and crisp shot of the moving aircraft AND some background with it is with a very slow shutter AND a good steady, straight pan that stays smoothly with the moving aircraft. I fire in burst mode, a minimum of 3 per burst, a max of 4 per burst. Less than 3 cuts the "successful single capture" percentage from 66% to 50%; a burst of 4 seems to result in a "successful single capture" percentage of 50% (BUT with 2 out of 4 chances), and a burst of more than 4 is usually useless because it is really difficult to hold a steady, smooth pan more than four shots on a moving aircraft because human hands are not steady platforms AND backgrounds lighting conditions change rapidly anyway as the aircraft moves along. BTW ... I do NOT use a tripod. My opinion (purely personal, of course) is that putting a camera on a tripod and having the photographer remove his / her hands from the camera (and going off to eat a sandwich, smoke a cigarette or nurse on a vape, or use the restroom) and then returning to say, "Wow, look at the picture I took" is a lie since the photographer was not "hands on" with the camera when the shutter fired. So I never use a tripod.
Hey, guys, I hope this info helps. Certainly, if you try these settings, you'll find you must adjust for the circumstances at your locations, but perhaps this info will give you (and any other adventurous photogs) a "starting point" .... and maybe save you the "trial & error" stuff I went thru. (Fingers crossed for ya.)
Gavin Hughes
Thanks Gary. I can't even pan well enough in good light to get a result at that shutter speed - never have actually even when I was young and fresh. I don't use a tripod either, (or monopod, as one guy I know does), more a hindrance than a help I reckon. I used PS 'reduce noise' on a few of my recent uploaded pics to get them to at least a reasonable standard for posting - very handy tool.
Gary SchenauerPhoto Uploader
Gavin ... Those shutter speed ranges I mentioned were only for night and twilight pics. And actually, panning in low light at those slow speeds isn't all that difficult. I'm an old f--t with old man shakes but I can get 'em OK. Give it a try. (The beauty of digital is that it costs nothing but time to try something and if it doesn't work just hit the TRASH button.) Try it with the sun down below the horizon but still early to mid twilight (not total darkness). Try two bursts of 4. That gives you 8 chances of getting one good one. ISO 800, f/4.0, 1/100 shutter, aim (thru the eyepiece, NOT via the screen) and get a focal point, smooth pan with it, SNAP< SNAP< SNAP< SNAP<, finger off the shutter, then refocus, SNAP< SNAP< SNAP< SNAP<. Viewing thru the eyepiece results in a far, FAR smoother and more steady pan. Use autofocus. BTW, your camera's autofocus works best when you aim it at some area of contrast on the plane (such as a place where there is colorful paint on a light color background). Let's use the titles on the Southwest in my pic. The title SOUTHWEST is in white on dark blue fuselage paint. Because I was trying to snap this in very low light, everything is rather dark and A/F works best with light/dark contrast, so I needed to give my A/F as much "help" as possible by finding a strong area of light/dark contrast. Autofocus works best when it is aimed at distinctive contrast. So I aimed at the bottom of one of the white letters in the SOUTHWEST title, where the white meets the dark blue. Even tho the side of the jet facing me was not highly illuminated by daylight, the A/F easily detected the stark contrast between white and dark blue, "read" the distance, focused, and I panned as I snapped a 3-shot burst. As the plane swept by, I re-aimed at an area with strong contrast, the A/F refocused, and I clicked another burst. I ended up with 3 3-shot bursts; a total of 9 pics, which gave me very good odds of getting at least one keeper. (I ended up trashing 4 and keeping 5 and of those 5 I posted one here and sent the best one to an extremely important recipient agency. I don't get paid with $ for my pics because I refuse to accept $ which makes me an amateur photographer, but I do receive other forms of compensation that are, let's just say, "quite valuable.")
Greg Byington
That's a really nice looking shot, Gary!
Gavin Hughes
Thanks Greg. I suspect from your words we may be somewhere in the same age group but I've rarely been able to make a steady enough pan at low shutter speeds, younger or now. Got no probs with A/F and understanding contrast and I NEVER use the monitor screen for this type of photography. I photograph trams (streetcars as you'd call them) and I use it when necessary (over fences) but that's presetting the focus, holding it, and just let the camera run as the tram passes. I can generally get two or three then that are useful but for aircraft, viewfinder is the only way to go. All that said tho, I will keep trying panning because all the work that higher ISOs cause is a grind:)
Beautiful photo!
Gary SchenauerPhoto Uploader
Thanx, BigAl. (Wave)
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Date Aircraft Origin Destination Departure Arrival Duration
28-Feb-2020 B737San Francisco Intl ()McCarran Intl () 01:15PM PST 02:35PM PST Scheduled
28-Feb-2020 B737Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl ()San Francisco Intl () 11:15AM MST 12:20PM PST Scheduled
28-Feb-2020 B737San Diego Intl ()Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl () 08:10AM PST 10:15AM MST Scheduled
28-Feb-2020 B737McCarran Intl ()San Diego Intl () 06:20AM PST 07:10AM PST Scheduled
27-Feb-2020 B737Sacramento Intl ()McCarran Intl () 09:30PM PST 10:25PM PST Scheduled
27-Feb-2020 B737Ontario Intl ()Sacramento Intl () 07:35PM PST 08:35PM PST Scheduled
27-Feb-2020 B737Portland Intl ()Ontario Intl () 04:55PM PST 06:45PM PST Scheduled
27-Feb-2020 B737St Louis Lambert Intl ()Portland Intl () 01:50PM CST 04:00PM PST Scheduled
27-Feb-2020 B737Pittsburgh Intl ()St Louis Lambert Intl () 12:10PM EST 12:50PM CST Scheduled
27-Feb-2020 B737Hartsfield-Jackson Intl ()Pittsburgh Intl () 09:00AM EST 10:20AM EST Scheduled
27-Feb-2020 B737New Orleans Intl ()Hartsfield-Jackson Intl () 05:40AM CST 07:39AM EST Scheduled
26-Feb-2020 B737Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl ()New Orleans Intl () 07:56PM MST 11:12PM CST 2:15
26-Feb-2020 B737El Paso Intl ()Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl () 05:47PM MST 06:49PM MST 1:01
26-Feb-2020 B737Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl ()El Paso Intl () 04:00PM MST 04:47PM MST 0:47
26-Feb-2020 B737Austin-Bergstrom Intl ()Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl () 01:41PM CST 03:02PM MST 2:20
26-Feb-2020 B737El Paso Intl ()Austin-Bergstrom Intl () 10:25AM MST 12:33PM CST 1:07
26-Feb-2020 B737Austin-Bergstrom Intl ()El Paso Intl () 09:18AM CST 09:40AM MST 1:22
26-Feb-2020 B737New Orleans Intl ()Austin-Bergstrom Intl () 07:06AM CST 08:23AM CST 1:17
25-Feb-2020 B737Chicago Midway Intl ()New Orleans Intl () 08:06PM CST 10:06PM CST 1:59
25-Feb-2020 B737LaGuardia ()Chicago Midway Intl () 04:35PM EST 05:30PM CST 1:54
25-Feb-2020 B737Chicago Midway Intl ()LaGuardia () 12:45PM CST 03:21PM EST 1:35
25-Feb-2020 B737LaGuardia ()Chicago Midway Intl () 10:17AM EST 11:12AM CST 1:55
25-Feb-2020 B737Chicago Midway Intl ()LaGuardia () 06:21AM CST 08:56AM EST 1:35
24-Feb-2020 B737Baltimore/Washington Intl ()Chicago Midway Intl () 10:08PM EST 10:44PM CST 1:36
24-Feb-2020 B737T. F. Green International ()Baltimore/Washington Intl () 07:58PM EST 09:00PM EST 1:01
24-Feb-2020 B737Baltimore/Washington Intl ()T. F. Green International () 06:19PM EST 07:11PM EST 0:51
24-Feb-2020 B737Austin-Bergstrom Intl ()Baltimore/Washington Intl () 01:35PM CST 05:01PM EST 2:25
24-Feb-2020 B737Los Angeles Intl ()Austin-Bergstrom Intl () 08:17AM PST 12:34PM CST 2:17
24-Feb-2020 B737Los Angeles Intl ()Austin-Bergstrom Intl () 08:16AM PST 12:35PM CST 2:19
24-Feb-2020 B737Reno/Tahoe Intl ()Los Angeles Intl () 05:40AM PST 06:38AM PST 0:57
23-Feb-2020 B737McCarran Intl ()Reno/Tahoe Intl () 11:07PM PST 12:06AM PST (+1) 0:58
23-Feb-2020 B737San Francisco Intl ()McCarran Intl () 08:56PM PST 10:04PM PST 1:07
23-Feb-2020 B737Bob Hope ()San Francisco Intl () 06:54PM PST 07:48PM PST 0:53
23-Feb-2020 B737Metropolitan Oakland Intl ()Bob Hope () 04:58PM PST 05:47PM PST 0:48
23-Feb-2020 B737San Diego Intl ()Metropolitan Oakland Intl () 02:43PM PST 03:50PM PST 1:07
23-Feb-2020 B737Sacramento Intl ()San Diego Intl () 12:21PM PST 01:29PM PST 1:07
23-Feb-2020 B737Chicago Midway Intl ()Sacramento Intl () 08:53AM CST 11:02AM PST 4:08
23-Feb-2020 B737Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport ()Chicago Midway Intl () 07:42AM EST 07:26AM CST 0:44
22-Feb-2020 B737Baltimore/Washington Intl ()Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport () 06:54PM EST 08:04PM EST 1:09
22-Feb-2020 B737Fort Lauderdale Intl ()Baltimore/Washington Intl () 02:58PM EST 05:05PM EST 2:06
22-Feb-2020 B737Pittsburgh Intl ()Fort Lauderdale Intl () 10:47AM EST 12:54PM EST 2:06
22-Feb-2020 B737Orlando Intl ()Pittsburgh Intl () 07:44AM EST 09:37AM EST 1:53
21-Feb-2020 B737New Orleans Intl ()Orlando Intl () 08:56PM CST 11:05PM EST 1:08
21-Feb-2020 B737Dallas Love Field ()New Orleans Intl () 06:57PM CST 07:55PM CST 0:57
21-Feb-2020 B737William P Hobby ()Dallas Love Field () 05:09PM CST 05:50PM CST 0:41
21-Feb-2020 B737Austin-Bergstrom Intl ()William P Hobby () 03:23PM CST 04:01PM CST 0:37
21-Feb-2020 B737Albuquerque Intl Sunport ()Austin-Bergstrom Intl () 11:54AM MST 02:09PM CST 1:15
21-Feb-2020 B737Chicago Midway Intl ()Albuquerque Intl Sunport () 09:04AM CST 10:56AM MST 2:51
21-Feb-2020 B737Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport ()Chicago Midway Intl () 07:56AM EST 07:39AM CST 0:43
20-Feb-2020 B737Baltimore/Washington Intl ()Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport () 07:58PM EST 09:13PM EST 1:15
20-Feb-2020 B737Palm Beach Intl ()Baltimore/Washington Intl () 04:46PM EST 06:44PM EST 1:57
20-Feb-2020 B737Baltimore/Washington Intl ()Palm Beach Intl () 01:27PM EST 03:41PM EST 2:14
20-Feb-2020 B737Bradley Intl ()Baltimore/Washington Intl () 11:21AM EST 12:21PM EST 1:00
20-Feb-2020 B737Tampa Intl ()Bradley Intl () 08:12AM EST 10:31AM EST 2:18
20-Feb-2020 B737Fort Lauderdale Intl ()Tampa Intl () 06:26AM EST 07:00AM EST 0:34
19-Feb-2020 B737Nashville Intl ()Fort Lauderdale Intl () 08:46PM CST 11:26PM EST 1:40
19-Feb-2020 B737LaGuardia ()Nashville Intl () 06:34PM EST 07:40PM CST 2:06
19-Feb-2020 B737Nashville Intl ()LaGuardia () 02:31PM CST 05:17PM EST 1:45
19-Feb-2020 B737Chicago Midway Intl ()Nashville Intl () 11:24AM CST 12:24PM CST 1:00
19-Feb-2020 B737Detroit Metro Wayne Co ()Chicago Midway Intl () 10:36AM EST 10:20AM CST 0:43
19-Feb-2020 B737Chicago Midway Intl ()Detroit Metro Wayne Co () 07:28AM CST 09:02AM EST 0:33
19-Feb-2020 B737Buffalo Niagara Intl ()Chicago Midway Intl () 05:56AM EST 06:21AM CST 1:24
18-Feb-2020 B737Tampa Intl ()Buffalo Niagara Intl () 09:25PM EST 11:41PM EST 2:15
18-Feb-2020 B737Hartsfield-Jackson Intl ()Tampa Intl () 07:12PM EST 08:11PM EST 0:59
18-Feb-2020 B737Pittsburgh Intl ()Hartsfield-Jackson Intl () 04:33PM EST 06:04PM EST 1:31
18-Feb-2020 B737Chicago Midway Intl ()Pittsburgh Intl () 01:50PM CST 03:44PM EST 0:53
18-Feb-2020 B737Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Intl ()Chicago Midway Intl () 11:16AM CST 12:43PM CST 1:26
18-Feb-2020 B737Dallas Love Field ()Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Intl () 08:51AM CST 10:07AM CST 1:15
18-Feb-2020 B737New Orleans Intl ()Orlando Intl () 05:45AM CST 08:05AM EST Cancelled
17-Feb-2020 B737Dallas Love Field ()New Orleans Intl () 10:02PM CST 12:34AM CST (+1) 2:31
17-Feb-2020 B737Tampa Intl ()Dallas Love Field () 07:50PM EST 09:14PM CST 2:23
17-Feb-2020 B737Fort Lauderdale Intl ()Tampa Intl () 05:41PM EST 06:26PM EST 0:45
17-Feb-2020 B737Owen Roberts/Grand Cayman ()Fort Lauderdale Intl () 02:15PM EST 03:26PM EST 1:10
17-Feb-2020 B737Fort Lauderdale Intl ()Owen Roberts/Grand Cayman () 11:43AM EST 12:51PM EST 1:07
17-Feb-2020 B737T. F. Green International ()Fort Lauderdale Intl () 07:06AM EST 09:59AM EST 2:52
16-Feb-2020 B737Chicago Midway Intl ()T. F. Green International () 09:46PM CST 12:22AM EST (+1) 1:35
16-Feb-2020 B737San Diego Intl ()Chicago Midway Intl () 03:12PM PST 08:30PM CST 3:18
16-Feb-2020 B737Sacramento Intl ()San Diego Intl () 12:58PM PST 02:04PM PST 1:06
16-Feb-2020 B737Bob Hope ()Sacramento Intl () 11:11AM PST 12:12PM PST 1:00
16-Feb-2020 B737Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl ()Bob Hope () 09:40AM MST 09:46AM PST 1:05
16-Feb-2020 B737San Antonio Intl ()Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl () 07:26AM CST 08:51AM MST 2:25
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