Over time I have become more interested in night time photos when a good visitor is parked on a decent spot for it but with the way Airports are these days it can be hard going finding a place to set up your Tripod allowing a clear unobstructed view in reasonable lighting.

I have always liked the look of after dark shots and my first attempt at this was in December 2002 when I was shooting only slides (I bought my DSLR in Feb 2003) so this mean't that more trial and error was required because you don't get to see your results until the roll of film comes back from developing.

My first attempt in low light was on the Spectators Terrace at Prestwick in late November 2002 when I arrived just before 8am to shoot a Dc8 of SilkWay Airlines and I set up my Tripod at the Spectators Terrace on top of the wide wooden railing that you lean on.

This wasn't really a night shot rather a dawn one taken before the sun rose and it required only a third of a second at F6.7, it still has the look of early morning though and as all of the lights were still on it produced some nice effects in the background on the Cargo shed.

What I really wanted was to try some night time ones in complete darkness to see how I would get on with them and I gave that a go during the first week of December 2002 again on the Prestwick Spectators Terrace but it was windy that night and I made the mistake of using an Aperture of F8 so the exposure times were too long and they were all effected by camera shake.

After seeing the results of my slides a week later I tried again and as last time there was a breeze so I used F5.6 to give me shorter exposure times of 3 and 4 seconds, this was much better and I managed to take a few decent looking sharp slides.



4K-AZ25 Dc8
Silk Way Airlines
(Prestwick 28-11-02).

EI-CJH 737-200
Ryanair
(Prestwick 11-12-02).


There was only really one good Stand after dark regularly used from Prestwick's Terrace that provided a good view (Stand 2) as all of the others had problems with either a lack of lighting, objects sticking up in the way or bright spotlights shining back towards the Terrace. This one Stand was used on most occasions by the Prestwick to Stansted Ryanair 737-200 so it wasn't exactly ideal to have the same type sitting in front of you each time and I was never lucky enough to catch one of Ryanair's Logojets parked on it.

Sadly the Prestwick Spectators Terrace was closed in January 2003 at first due to the US Military flights that were coming through regularly to fuel stop and after that structural problems were discovered which has caused the Terrace to be shut for good as they won't spend the money to put it right so this has been a big loss for Photographers and Spotters at the Airport.

This has more or less put paid to decent nights shots from Landside at Prestwick although there are some angles on the North side looking back into the Terminal however they are distant and not what I would consider photogenic.



EI-CJC 737-200
Ryanair
(Prestwick 31-10-03).




In January 2003 I went to Dusseldorf with a friend and although mid winter is not the best of time to do this with the sort of weather you can experience at the turn of the year it was partly because Dusseldorf has an excellent Terrace which is open to 8pm during the winter months so we knew that even if the weather was not too good during the day there would still be a couple of hours of darkness to try some night shots.

Our visit was a couple of months before I bought my D60 DSLR Camera so I had my slide camera and 16 rolls of slide film with me for the trip and didn't know what to expect of the lighting, it turned out to be a little on the yellow side as you can see from the photos below and similar to Glasgow Airport in colour tones.



D-AIQK A320
Lufthansa
(Dusseldorf 16-1-03).

D-AIRF A321
Lufthansa
(Dusseldorf 16-1-03).

D-AIRF A321
Lufthansa
(Dusseldorf 16-1-03).

G-EUUF A320
British Airways
(Dusseldorf 16-1-03).

D-ABED 737
Lufthansa
(Dusseldorf 16-1-03).

G-CFAA 146
British Airways
(Dusseldorf 16-1-03).

LN-RRR 737
SAS
(Dusseldorf 16-1-03).

OE-LBT A320
Austrian Airlines
(Dusseldorf 17-1-03).

CN-RNQ 737
Royal Air Maroc
(Dusseldorf 17-1-03).

EC-GRK MD87
Iberia
(Dusseldorf 17-1-03).

D-AISE A321
Lufthansa
(Dusseldorf 17-1-03).

D-AIAI A300
Lufthansa
(Dusseldorf 18-1-03).

D-AIQK A320
Lufthansa
(Dusseldorf 18-1-03).

D-ABXL
Lufthansa
(Dusseldorf 18-1-03).


As it was windy each night this made it trickier to avoid camera shake and I took all of my night shot slides at F5.6 with the exposure times varying from 3 seconds close to where you come out onto the Terrace with more lighting there down to 10 seconds at the top end of the Terrace as the backgrounds are much darker looking towards the Runways.

One thing I did learn was that after scanning my slides they were a lot more yellow than I expected compared to looking at the actual slide through a viewer as a result of how the scanner interprets the colours.

What I did with all of the above after loading them up in Photoshop was to reduce the yellow and reds by quite a lot to get them looking reasonable again.

It is far more common to find this yellow tinted lighting at Airports than white so this makes it difficult to get good results but there are steps that you can take to improve them as I found out by trial and error when using my Digital camera.


Page 2 Night shots using Digital.

Page 3 On My Travels.
(click on the red text to access the page)