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Down near Useless Loop, Shark Bay, WA
Phase One XF 150MP, 80mm Schneider lens, 1/640 second @ f4.5, ISO 100

There's no doubt getting up in the air to take photographs is exciting. And the first few times, you're simply blown away by the experience, so it doesn't really matter too much what your photos are like, they will elicit great memories when you view them.

However, with a little experience, as you look back over your images - especially those which are essentially abstract patterns - you might wonder why they're not quite as good as Tony Hewitt's? What is the difference?

Generally the answer is a matter of design. Yes, Tony has wonderful control over his exposure, colour and the texture he brings out, but at the heart of the image is its shape, pattern and composition. Exposure, colour and texture are great, but the difference is invariably a strong shape or pattern that sits inside a complete, considered composition or framing. How does he do it?


However, there are two observations I'd like to make. First, when you're up in the air, don't look for clear areas or large areas, rather limit your scope to a narrower angle and include some geographical lines in the frame - roads, coasts, cliff edges, dams etc. Man-made subjects can work really well when sitting inside an otherwise natural setting. And using a telephoto lens or taking your aircraft down a little lower may allow you to better frame the subject (depending on the subject's size, of course - you might be better at a higher altitude to get the framing required).

The second point to note is that you can tweak the shape and framing of the image in Photoshop, Lightroom or Capture One etc. Stretch it, crop it, rotate it. Once you do this a few times, you'll realise you don't have to get the framing perfect while you're up in the air. Close enough is often good enough if you're prepared to do a little more in post-production.

And if you happen to be interested in shooting Shark Bay with Tony and me later this year, we have one spot left! Why not come along?