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Old 06-21-2022, 09:37 AM
Jvon811's Avatar
Jvon811 Jvon811 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: GA80 Whispering Pines Airpark
Posts: 241
Default RV-4 as a Photo Ship

I took some photo's of my neighbor's who have a pair of 90hp Super Cubs recently. Stuck another neighbor with very little camera experience in my backseat and handed him the DSLR (Canon Rebel T4i) and showed him the shutter button, we briefed the crews, went flying, and things turned out alright! Now I am no where near a professional photographer, I just happen to own a decent camera and know what I think looks good.

The big problem with the RV as a photo ship I've noticed over the years though is glare and reflections off the inside of the canopy. Maybe more specifically, I'm using my RV-4 with the bubble (applies to -8's as well) I've seen devices such as wide rubber boots or something that can be mounted to the end of the lens that acts as a shade around the lens and reduces glares in the images.

Does anyone else have any creative solutions they've seen or used for shooting air to air pics from the back of an RV-4/8?

Here's some pics from last evening. Pics are too big to upload here, so I'll post a link. Sorry no RV pics... I was the one carrying the camera!

RV-4 N249P
O-320, Dual P-Mags, Warnke Prop, Short legs, Manual Flaps, GRT Sport EX
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Old 06-21-2022, 10:56 AM
lr172 lr172 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Schaumburg, IL
Posts: 7,268

My hanger neighbor does A LOT of air photography. He just opens the window on the 172 If you are serious about it, it might make sense to build a small opening in the canopy that can be open and shut, like the piper or bonanza acrylic air door. I suspect that at slower speeds this will not be a problem opening it, but have no experience.

N64LR - RV-6A / IO-320, Flying as of 8/2015
N11LR - RV-10, Flying as of 12/2019
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Old 06-21-2022, 11:18 AM
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Bernardo Bernardo is offline
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 43

I take a lot of photos out of RVs.

I have considered Larry's idea for a door. Glider people do this kind of thing all the time, e.g. this one. But gliders are a lot slower - i.e. aerodynamic forces on their canopies are much much lower than on RVs - so I decided against it due to the non-negligible chance of ending up with large cracks in the canopy (i.e. of having to get and install a new canopy).

I think the best solution is to cut a disk of black foam or black paper, maybe a foot or so in diameter, with a hole in the middle that's 2" or 3" in diameter to poke the lens through.

I remember once reading about a guy... lemme do some Googling... John Scurlock seems to be his name... who takes beautiful pictures of the North Cascades from his RV-6. The photo below (from here) shows how he does it.

RV-6, 6A, 7A, 9A, & 12 pilot/co-owner. Aeronautical engineer, researcher, lecturer, author. Stanford, Boeing, etc.
Worked on wind-tunnel research, on design & modeling of rocket & jet engines, control systems for UAVs & spacecraft, jetliner maintenance planning, lab tests & computer modeling of innovative aero structures, future airplane designů But I have always wanted to work for a small company, on airplanes optimized for fun rather than profit, and no airplane is more fun than an RV!

Last edited by Bernardo : 06-21-2022 at 11:19 AM. Reason: Links
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Old 06-21-2022, 11:27 AM
fixnflyguy fixnflyguy is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Posts: 1,563
Default Take care of the bubble!

I have the same glare experience in my -4 as you, and all other RV's. Backseaters love the view and go picture crazy, my wife being the main photographer, and the last 11 years have kept me a wreck trying to keep the inside unscratched. I've seen the foam boots for a lens camera, but there will still be collateral scratch damage. As others have mentioned, a windowless platform is best..skydive jump planes with doors off are hard to beat, but they arent easy to get.
Bill E.
8A7 / Advance NC
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Old 06-21-2022, 07:23 PM
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Scotty G Scotty G is offline
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: PHX
Posts: 159

Aircraft with canopies that open really are preferred. T-6, T-34, CJs, Yaks, etc. For bigger budgets, I use a B-25 with the tail taken off. Shooting through Plexiglas almost isn't worth it in terms of quality.
Scotty G
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Old 06-21-2022, 07:35 PM
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RV6_flyer RV6_flyer is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: NC25
Posts: 3,943

Nothing beats open air to take photos.

Over the years, I have found that a circular polarizing filter of the correct size helps and it will reduce a lot of the glare but there may still be some when glare is really bad.

BLACK cloth or black photographers aluminum foil with black masking tape also help to reduce reflections from stuff inside on the canopy.
Gary A. Sobek
NC25 RV-6
3,500+ hours
Where is N157GS
Building RV-8 S/N: 80012

To most people, the sky is the limit.
To those who love aviation, the sky is home.
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Old 06-21-2022, 09:21 PM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
VAF Moderator / Line Boy
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dayton, NV
Posts: 13,081

Our host Doug Reeves used to sit backwards in Danny King’s back seat (RV-8) and got some great pictures- how he managed to turn around in there after takeoff, I don;t know….

For magazine shoots, we always try to get a photo ship with at least an open window, better an A-36 or Cherokee 6 with the back door off. My favorite ship was a Murphy Super Rebel on floats with the huge baggage door removed. With a harness, you could actually step out onto the float in flight if you needed a better shot!

Canopies are really limiting, but you can work around them if you’re clever with subject positioning and framing.

Paul F. Dye
Editor at Large - KITPLANES Magazine
RV-8 - N188PD - "Valkyrie"
RV-6 (By Marriage) - N164MS - "Mikey"
RV-3B - N13PL - "Tsamsiyu"
A&P, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
Dayton Valley Airpark (A34)
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Old 06-22-2022, 05:50 AM
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YellerDaisy YellerDaisy is offline
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Mountain Southwest
Posts: 224

Like most things with airplanes, it's a compromise. No doubt that a canopy is not ideal for photography.

I've found that shooting away from the sun and putting the camera lens as close to the canopy as possible both help significantly. I take a LOT of photos and keep moving the camera around while doing so (due to reflections/glare but also bugs/imperfections in/on the canopy). I tend to toss about 75% (or more) of the images.

I think the key to eliminating glare/reflections may be a skirt/hood on the lens. Get the lens close to the canopy and skirt/hood touches the canopy and blocks out all glare. Since the lens is never 'square' to the canopy, the skirt/hood has to conform. I've toyed with some ideas but none of them worked out.

You can find silicone lens hoods on Amazon but I've never tried one as the reviews are so bad.

The best option may be to get the camera outside the cockpit!
RV-4 - 160HP O-320 - Sensenich GA
RV-3B - O-320 - "Daisy" (sold)
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Old 06-22-2022, 04:57 PM
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Jvon811 Jvon811 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: GA80 Whispering Pines Airpark
Posts: 241

Thanks for the info guys. I know canopies are limiting and open air is best, and I have done photo work from other airplanes with those capabilites. I was just wondering if someone had some sort of whizbang contraption/hood that makes it easier to shoot air to air pics from the -4/8 since, that's what I have to work with...

Although the tailgunner seating config that Paul mentions does pique my interest... hmmm...

RV-4 N249P
O-320, Dual P-Mags, Warnke Prop, Short legs, Manual Flaps, GRT Sport EX
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Old 06-23-2022, 07:47 AM
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Low Pass Low Pass is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Houston
Posts: 2,144

I've shot a lot of architectural and construction progress photos from my -8. Try a circular polarizer and wear dark clothing. That black disk is a good idea too. And practice flying with your knees...

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