The big picture: British Airways releases aerial images taken from Embraer 190

27 Oct 2019 by Mark Caswell
Aerial shot of the Shard, taken by Jason Hawkes

British Airways has released a series of aerial images taken by photographer Jason Hawkes on an Embraer 190 aircraft between London City and Edinburgh.

The photographs including shots of the Shard and O2 Arena in London, and the extinct Arthur’s Seat volcano in Edinburgh.

Aerial shot of the O2 Arena, taken by Jason Hawkes

As part of the project Hawkes has provided a series of tips for fellow travellers on how to take the perfect photograph from an aircraft. These include:

  • Ensure your lens is as close to the window as possible without actually touching it, to eliminate reflections
  • Always try and shoot in one of the “golden hours“, either the hour just after sunrise or the hour just before sunset, to get lovely warm light and long shadows to accentuate both the urban and natural forms of the landscape
  • If you are shooting images on take-off and landing, and have various lenses, use anything between a 24mm and 70mm
  • Set your camera or phone camera onto a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second or higher, as this will ensure you get sharp images even if the aircraft is vibrating.
Aerial shot of London City airport, taken by Jason Hawkes
  • If you have a DSLR, try using a polariser filter. A circular polariser filter only allows light rays that are travelling in one direction to enter the lens. It’s a great tool but is a little tricky to use if the aircraft is banking round, as you have turn the filter to get the desired effect.
  • Try a lens skirt or large rubber lens hood, which are both great for blocking out window glare
  • Set your camera to shoot in both RAW and jpeg. You’ll have to grade the RAW file yourself to get the most out of it, but it’s really worth the effort and gives you a huge amount of control over the final image that you could never get from a jpeg.
Aerial shot of Edinburgh, taken by Jason Hawkes

Hawkes also gave a specific tip for taking photos from one of BA’s Embraer 190 aircraft on the London City-Edinburgh route – sit in seat 3A for the outbound leg, and 3D for the inbound, for unobstructed views.

Commenting on the work Hawkes said:

“I’ve spent the last 25 years of my working life hanging out of the sides of helicopters shooting aerial views all over the world. In a helicopter your first thoughts are safety, both for yourself and the pilot, and of course also for those below you on the ground.

“It was a very different experience altogether shooting from a British Airways aircraft, certainly the first time I’ve been offered such good coffee whilst I’ve been working! In the helicopter the doors are either taken right off or open, but in a standard aircraft the first thing you’ll have to deal with are reflections and glare from the window.”,

Aerial shot of a wind farm, taken by Jason Hawkes
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