It was one of those deals where the wife of the pilot of the plane talked with my wife wanting a Moose Peterson plane portrait of his plane for a BDay present. At the same time, I was to “come up with the idea” of taking their portrait as well. Sounds simple enough, not like I hadn’t done all of that before. But here’s the rub, this plane is so small and so low that a simple portrait wasn’t going to be simple. You could put the plane in the back of a pickup truck and so low I couldn’t get my fist under the plane. And to top that off, it’s highly reflective surface was, highly reflective! And if that wasn’t enough, it has a very unique gull-wing design. How I love challenges!
My biggest challenge and it’s all mental, is I have to LIE on the tarmac to make all the shots. That means when I go down, it has to be the right place because otherwise, I have to get back up (the challenge) and move to reposition. What is the right or perfect angle for a plane portrait? And with that reflective fuselage and bald skies, what do I do for backgrounds? The answer to the first question is, whatever you feel shows off the lines the best. From the standing position, I would put myself where I wanted to be for that angle and distance for a tight 70mm shot. Then when I laid down, I would shoot from 70mm down to 24mm. That took care of the main portrait. But what about the background?
That gradation in the sky was all done in post and when I made the shot, I knew I was going to do that. At the same time, I knew I would tint the gradation according to the time of the shoot and the reflection on Sept Fate. The tint, for the most part, matches the predominant color of the fuselage in that particular view. And here’s the deal, the formula I used for Sept Fate doesn’t work for any other aircraft. That’s because all the elements are unique requiring unique solutions to the questions. That’s why I tell shooters, there is no plain plane portrait.