Nowadays lots of people around the world have the opportunity to travel by plane. Someone who wants to seat just close to the window usually picks the proper place with an additional fee during the boarding pass. Some people may receive this place randomly, without an additional fee. Unfortunately many people  who fly quite often prefer seat next to the window to have a good dream. I belong to people, who don’t want to waste the time in the plane for sleeping and want to enjoy the owe-inspiring landscape outside.

I am not always keen on paying an additional fee for the place my dreams with a great view looking out the plane so I decide to pick a boarding pass with a random place. When I am receiving the seat in “B” or “E” row is still fine because you are still close to the window and capable to cover the outside area properly. The worst option is to receive the seat in “C” or “D” row, because this is very middle of the plane (Pic.1).

Pic.1 Seats in the Boeing 737-8AS (Ryanair) and costs. My place on 21st May (9C) market with a green circle).

Basically you are able to see practically nothing, but when you are determined and you have some equipment everything is feasible.

I would like to show you the way how to make many good photos from the middle of the plane. Obviously in this situation it is impossible to make full size photo, like normally we have been doing in many places. You can make a little bit of zoom to the window and next crop the landscape area. Then you will receive almost the same photo, as you could do from seat just next to the window. However your viewshed is very confined. You can see the landscape more or less in vertical, center line unlike to person, who is sitting next to the window (Pic.2).

Pic.2 The viewshed circumstances for people, who sit on the rows A or F and the rows C and D (a middle of the plane). People, who sit on the “A” or “F” rows may see the sky, clouds and the Earth’s surface below. People, who sit on the “C” or “D” rows may see mainly the clouds and horizon only.

 Those of people, who occupy the most outside place in the plane may see much more: sky, horizon and Earth’s surface beneath the clouds. People who sit on the more inner places in aircraft have lower possibility to cover entire area seen from the board, though they are able to see something anyway. When you sit further from the window your viewshed may be different. In any case it depends on behavior of your neighbor, who can seat patiently or black out majority of the window. It depends on your mobility also. You should have seatbelts especially during the start and landing, which restricts your mobility, however you can manage your hands and move your camera into the most convenient position as possible.

You must know, that I took into account the narrow-body aircrafts like Boeing 737, 757,777 or Airbus A320 family. The situation in a bigger aircrafts is much different! Once I will take some flight by e.g. Airbus A380 I will let you know.

I captured many photos from my seat situated in the “C” row, when I was going to Poland in 21th May. It was the time, when I started to test my brand new camera Nikon D5300. I couldn’t enjoy full-size landscape photos right straight from the plane so I did a dozen or so images from the middle of the plane. The most inner rows gives you another possibility. You can try cover the landscape simultaneously from both sites. The opposite window to your row is maybe twice times further than window on your site (Pic.1).

It wouldn’t be really possible to cover the outside area in normal lens, because of the distance between the window and your seat and also because of very narrow view shed across the window. It’s hard to set a proper focus too, especially when the glasses in the window are dirty. I used higher lens rather than default (18mm). Basically each of my photo has been done in 55mm lens. Thanks to this I received quite big view from outside the plane and I could set the focus easily.

The simple photo is not everything, as I wrote above. In each case you need to crop your image until you receive landscape only (Pic.3,4).

Pic.3 Rzeszów – Wilkowyja from the Ryanair FR2136 (9C). The red rectangle indicates the image cropping.
Pic.4 Rzeszów – Wilkowyja from the Ryanair FR2136 (9C), landscape only.

Once you are editing an image pay attention for distortions on the window edges (Pic.5).

Pic.5 The distorsion on the window edges.

Unfortunately you can do usually nothing with dirty glasses. You need adjust your focus to outside view to make your photo as clear as possible.

Some photos, which have been done especially during the start and landing the plane need to be rotated. This is another part of edition, which is good to do just at the beginning.
See a dozen or so examples below. I am showing 2 photos from the same moment. First one is the full-size photo. The next one is estimate output of my exercise, the crop photo into landscape view only.


Pic.6,7 It’s quite easy to capture the landscape through the window, which is situated on the same side like your seat (Nikon D5300, 55mm).


Pic.8,9 When you are taking photo of landscape from the opposite site you will receive a smaller output image. 


Pic. 10,11 A beautiful cumulus mediocris and stratocumulus clouds above western Germany.


Pic.12,13 Cumulus and the mid-level clouds above western Germany.


Pic.14,15 The Bedlar’s Green rural area in the Essex, United Kingdom.


Pic.16,17 The Essex rural area.


Pic. 18,19 The Lesser Poland foothils rural area.


Pic.20,21 The cumulus clouds above Lesser Poland.


Pic.22,23 The cumulus mediocris and cumulus congestus clouds above Lesser Poland.


Pic.24,25 View on Rzeszów.


Pic.25,26 Podbór village.


Pic.27,28 View on Strzyżowskie Foothills.


Pic.29,30 View on Rzeszów and the Sucha Góra TV tower beyond.


Pic.30,31 View on Rzeszów and the Sucha Góra TV tower beyond.

Mariusz Krukar