If you’ve ever taken a long flight and thought about capturing the stars through your window, you’ll want to check out this incredible photograph. Jan Jasinski, who specializes in aviation photography, was recently on a flight from Montreal to Frankfurt when he was inspired to capture a long exposure image of the sky.
After 45 minutes, Jasinski was able to get the crisp shot by using a steady hand and airplane blanket to help cancel out the cabin lights. This wasn’t the first time the young photographer has attempted a night shoot out a plane window. Turbulence, cabin light reflections, or a shaky hand have always thwarted previous endeavors. This time, all things aligned and he was able to capture this magical photograph, including the plane’s wing set against the Milky Way.
So, how did he do it? The 8-second exposure was shot with his Canon 5D Mark IV and a 16-35 f/4L lens while most other passengers slept. After using all the tools at his disposal, including his forehead to help steady the camera and the free blanket to dim reflections, his third to last photo was crisp enough to move through the editing process.
Getting such a clear, long exposure photograph without a tripod certainly isn’t easy, so we reached out to Jasinski to get his advice on how to steady the camera.
Most people feel like they can’t get this sort of image without a tripod. What would you tell them?
“Having a tripod is always a relief when it comes to long exposures. Unfortunately due to tight seating in aircraft these days, setting up the smallest tripod is not the easiest task. I opted to try my luck with forcing the lens against the window as much as possible with both my hands, as well as my forehead. Holding your breath for as long as possible will also essential to reduce shake. It’s without a doubt a frustrating photo to try and capture, and I was extremely close to calling it quits when I saw that everything was turning out blurry. It all comes down to repetition and hoping for the best. Sometimes taking a few minutes rest and re-attempting the photo will help bring your inspiration back.”
What advice would you give to others who attempt a night shoot on an airplane?
“As for holding the lens steady, the first thing I recommend is figuring out the steadiest angle that the lens can rest on. My mistake at first was trying to fit in more of the aircraft’s wing in the frame, causing the lens not to be completely flat on the window surface. It will be impossible to avoid shake if the lens isn’t placed at the exact same angle. Using the seat in front or anything to rest on will also help, although it depends on the conditions. The passenger in front of me kept fidgeting, which ruined a lot of my photos. It’s mostly trying to see what you can stabilize on or how depending on your seat placement and conditions.”
My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Jan Jasinski.