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Photographing Hang Gliding

If you look at a few copies of WINGS you'll find pictures taken by professional photographers, pilots, pilots' mates and spectators. You'll find great shots, shots, poor shots, and the rest! If some of your pictures fall into either of the last two categories, then I hope this article will help you to record your flying with good pictures rather than just a log-book.

Some of you will have a 35mm 'compact' type camera. You obviously stand a better chance of getting a better quality picture, insofar as it should be better exposed (most of them are automatic), sharper, and will give you a better quality negative to work from. You can happily take landings, take-offs, in-flight shots (keep one in your pocket) and wider angle pics of soarers.

For those of you with a 35mm SLR camera, you stand the best chance of getting good shots. The majority of serious amateurs have one camera body, a standard lens (50mm) a wide angle (probably a 28mm), and a telephoto (135 or 200mm). The most useful lens will be the telephoto. It is not, however, the easiest lens to use. Make sure you focus carefully. Use a shutter speed that is not slower than the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens you're using, e.g. if you've got a 200mm, don't use a shutter speed of less than 1/200th.

A tripod is essential for anything longer than 200mm.

If you 've just won the pools, or you 're horse came in there are a few luxuries which open up all sorts of possibilities: motor-drives (they take a sequence of pics very quickly); or perhaps a mirror lens (this is a very long focal length lens) 500 or 1000 mm, but is very compact - you could fill the frame with a wing from about 100 yds.

Ground to air pics are the ones most likely to cause disappointment. Cameras with automatic exposure facilities, including SLRs with in-built meters, are easily fooled by pointing into the sky. The golden rule to remember is that almost all meters try to give you an exposure that will reproduce everything as a mid-grey, e.g. if you had three sheets of card - white, grey and black — and shot them all with an auto camera or centering the needle in your SLR viewfinder, you would find the results would be all grey. What you must remember to do is if you point the camera at a predominantly white subject, (e.g. the sky or snow, is to open the aperture by about 1 stop or drop the shutter speed (i.e. the film must receive more exposure). The same applies to a very dark subject but is en¬countered less frequently. Try not to shoot near the sun. Apart from the danger to your eyes, unless you own high quality lenses you'll tend to get flare which will spoil the picture.

In general, fairly fast, i.e. sensitive, films will be the most useful. For B & W, HP5, Tri-X, or FP4; colour negatives, Kodak 400, Fuji 400 or Kodacolor II 100 asa on bright days; for colour transparencies, Ektachrome 400, 200, 64, or Kodachrome 64 in decreasing order of sensitivity.


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