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Photography Question 

How to incorporate a plane in a portrait

I've been asked to do a portrait of a client who is a pilot. He owns a nice yellow bi-plane that is kept at a rural airfield (lots of grass, a few trees). I'd like to include his plane or a portion of it in his portrait. I already have a few ideas, but would like to see if anyone else has done something similar or has a cool suggestion.

Many thanks


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2/23/2006 1:24:10 PM

Kay Beausoleil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2004
  How about the Proud Owner posture next to one of the doors taken so you see his face and the "eyes" and nose of the plane? You'd be doing a full length portrait at an angle for this one. There's also Pilot About to Take Off, Waving Goodbye -- you can get much tighter with that one, as long as there's something that says Plane in the picture. Then again, you could get silly and use a helmet, a scarf and goggles ...

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2/23/2006 2:01:26 PM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Is it an open top (no canopy) like a classic bi-plane?

If so, I think you should strap yourself to the wing and get some action shots of the pilot while flying. Tell him to do some loops so you can choose between trees or clouds as your background.

What, aren't you willing to sacrifice for your craft? Come on, think outside the box. ;-)

If that doesn't work out, then I think Kay's suggestions sound great too.


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2/23/2006 2:11:06 PM

Bob Fately   Hey, what about using a super-wide angle lens so that you capture a good portion of the plane even while standing fairly close to the pilot - perhaps he can stand in front of the wing, leather jacket, arms crossed, silk pilot's scarf flapping over his choulder in the wind....

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2/23/2006 2:41:11 PM

Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  usually the pilots sunglasses are big and super reflective. you can try to do a closeup on his face getting his plane in the reflection of the glasses?

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2/23/2006 2:43:48 PM

Craig  Paulsen   You could get a shot of him flying by wing tipped towards you and then ghost it in the backround of another shot of him (thirds) and maybe some smaller shots of the prop, stick and tail(details).

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2/23/2006 2:52:28 PM

a n  
something like this might work well

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2/23/2006 3:05:23 PM

a n  
Kays idea is a good one

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2/23/2006 3:25:45 PM

Craig  Paulsen   Nice shot Brenda I like the second one. You could do a great collage with a ton of different shots. "The sky is the limit" Hmmm, could be the caption at bottom of the shot.

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2/23/2006 3:29:30 PM

Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  When I saw this I had an idea. Now, I have NO idea how tall these things are, but maybe you could put him up on a ladder and interact with the prop somehow? It would be off of course :) I think having a shot from the front showing the power in the engine maybe slightly out of focus with the owner right by it. Then, further out of focus in the background, you see the main body of the plane?

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2/23/2006 6:04:45 PM

Melissa Cozis   My boss is a pilot, so I play with planes a lot;)

1) if it's an enclosed plane, like a piper for example, sit him in the front seat, door open, and shoot a seated pose. The important parts of the plane in this instance are the yolk and panel, and the set back. Best to shoot this in open shade - preferably in an open hangar? - or in evening, as the glass from the angle of the windshield gives a lot of flare.

2) The important part of the plane - the part that distinguishes one plane from another - is the N number - this is on the tail of the plane. Stand him at the tail, maybe his arm on the tail over the N number.

3) Let him sit on the wing, leaned back against the door, arms crossed.

He knows, as does everyone who knows him, that he owns that plane. Unless he specifically asked for a picture of "him AND the plane", incorporating an small section of the plane with him as the primary focus of the picture will let you capture the essence of him as a pilot and proud plane over with out having his plane over rule him as a person.

and remember - the NNumber is the important identifier.

I might have some pics similar to this in my pc somewhere...if I can find one that shows what I mean, I'll post it.

Hope that helps.

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2/24/2006 9:40:08 PM

Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
  I was wondering if Bobby was thinking along the lines of a composite somehow? I've been trying to do one of a chandelier and a lady. Don't even ask! They wanted a double exposure kind of thing but that didn't look good so I'm still working at trying to figure out a way to combine the two. I've seen images where a portrait is kinda faded into another subject. I don't know how to do them though.

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2/25/2006 7:41:30 AM

Melissa Cozis   use multiple layers in photoshop -
for example, if the darker image is gonna be image A, and the lighter is gonna be image be:

Make a layer with image A at full opacity/transparency. Make a second layer using image B - move it to a lower opacity - play around with that to see what it needs to be at. Make a 3rd layer w/ image a set to about 25% opacity just to make is more solid.
Once you flatten image, it should look right.

Now, that is a REALLY simplified version - I didn't go into adjusting anything, filters, etc, bc every picture situation is different. Also, I assumed for this purpose that both images had the same background, or you wanted the full background. If that isn't the case, apply a mask to image b and paint it out.

My fairy pictures (fairies on flowers) are compositied EXACTLY like that, using three images, and those are the steps I took. I didn't fade any parts of them, but the fading is accomplished by adjusting the opacity of the layers.


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2/25/2006 10:28:29 AM

BC    Thanks everyone for the nice suggestions. You've given me some ideas that I didn't already have and I am looking forward to the shoot. Again, many thanks.


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3/1/2006 7:55:31 AM

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