So I'm chasing a CN freight train on the Three Hills subdivision near Swalwell AB, when an Ag plane flies over the cab of my truck at a low altitude.
Having captured all the images I need of the train, I switch gears and chase the plane, as I figure that he is going to possibly do some ag spraying nearby.
I call it right, as he begins making passes laying down chemical on a barley field nearby, and being familiar with what's required to capture an ag plane in action, I pick a spot at one end of the field where he is making his approach after making his turn at the end of the field.
Just so you know, it can be tricky capturing images of an airplane with a propeller up front.
The goal is to make sure that you don't use too high a shutter speed (1/160 of a second max) or you will freeze the propeller in place causing the airplane too fall from the sky!
Of course we know it won't fall from the sky, but will appear to do so with the propeller stopped, besides looking mighty ugly. Needless to say, you need to show motion through the blurred propeller, and anything over 1/160th of a second will freeze it, so watch your shutter speed.
Prop blur will vary depending on the angle between you and the airplane. RPM of the engine also plays a factor in the amount of prop blur visible. The slower the rpm, the more prop blur visible. Needless to say, an ag plane pilot is laying on the throttle, so the prop blur will be minimal but sufficient for our needs.
Of course if you are using a longer focal-length lens, say a 200 mm lens as I was, rule of thumb says you need to set a shutter speed of a minimum of 1/200 of a second, or there is the chance for blurry photos, so you can see where I'm going, you need to pan smoothly with the ag plane with the risk of blurry photos always a possibility when using slow shutter speeds.
So in this image the pilot of the ag plane is completing his turn and is setting up for his next pass. The ag plane has GPS tracking so the pilot knows where he has sprayed, and will move over the required amount for the next pass.
If you expand the photo, you can see the pilot behind the windscreen in the cockpit, and as he looks at the field, he sees the light-bar positioned on the cowl just outside the windscreen in his peripheral vision that has 3 lights indicating his course over the field.
These 3 lights tell him whether he is straying left or right as he flies his course on the field.
Just so you know, my camera was being held on the level with the horizon as the Ag pilot banks and swoops down over my position.
With the photo expanded, look for the tiny propeller (blurred) located between the main landing gear that drives the pump allowing liquid to exit the spray nozzles located on the spray booms.
Just so you know, this liquid pump propeller is wind driven.
Also possibly of interest to you, this Ag plane is an "Air Tractor" built in Texas, and has a 1000 horsepower gas-turbine engine up front.
One of these days, I need to shoot a video with sound, as the sound of the gas-turbine engine turning the prop while the plane makes 100/140 mph passes over the field is unbelievably cool!
Expand the photo for a closer look.....