Looking at the answer on How do I take pictures of planes flying at an airshow? I see that many of the shots have blurry rotors. I'm currently shooting at (210mm (1.5x crop), ISO 100, 1/800, f8). A sample shot is listed below.


From the related post below, an ND is suggested to create motion blur. I'm curious if a CPL (I don't have a ND yet) will do the job or must I use an ND? Assuming I do buy an ND filter, is there a "recommended" n-stop to get, if you don't have a particular goal in mind?


How to create motion blur in daylight?


Use ISO 100 and about f/8, maybe f/8-f/11 if you're ok with the results. Polarization has a large impact if you're switching from landscape to portrait or vice versa. A polarizing filter does remove 2-3 stops and helps quite a lot in that regard. If you can live with the odd background/water changes then it will work fine. Otherwise get a neutral density filter. One side note, did not get any glare form the nearby bay, since polarizes seem to take care of that so not have a hood isn't a big problem. (I was using a step-up filter

Hope this helps everyone.


Plane Overheard


2 Answers 2


A polarizing filter will probably cut out 2 stops of light, which would allow you to shoot at 1/200 instead of 1/800. Depending on your lens, you might be able to shoot at f/11 or f/16 and further reduce the shutter speed. You should get good prop blur at 1/125 or so.

The problem with a CPL is that as you pan across the sky, or rotate the camera from landscape to portrait, the polarizing effect is going to change and so will your exposure, whereas an ND filter would be constant.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The other problem with this method will likely be diffraction. NDs are pretty cheap in comparison to a CPL. I'd recommend one. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 14:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why I hesitate to go lower than f/8. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 14:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ To add it yes I see the effects although I will add that it shows up more if you change from landscape to portrait shots. I will update my question with more details but this answers it. Thanks \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 11, 2015 at 4:50

Since you are shooting in the sky, where everything is slightly brighter you should overexpose for at least +1 or even more, also stop down to f16 wouldn't harm, and there you are, at maybe 1/60s that will cause blurry propellers,.. Maybe you'll need to pan a bit to get the plane sharp .

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll try that then. My only comment against that is that planes sometimes fly with the sun backlighting them, sometimes, like my shot, you're under them and other times you're looking at them from the side. Also the reason why I didn't do f/16 is that images get soft. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 14:42

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