It’s more complicated than you’d think.
With hundreds of liveries, over 50 aircraft, and an entire world to explore, why not take photos of your journeys?
Welcome to a complete guide to Infinite Flight Photography. In this topic I will cover everything from selecting photogenic aircraft to posting your photos to the IFC.
Preparation | Execution | Editing | Closing Remarks
Disclaimer: Yes, this topic is very similar to Andrew’s. I have his permission and his support. It’d be impossible to make a quality guide without using elements from his in any way, his guide was structured perfectly, thus I will be using this structure in order to convey information in the best way possible.
Additionally, I know, this is more than 10 photos. It would be impossible for me to limit it to just 10.
Golden rule: Only take photos on max graphics, unless your device will engulf in flames. Medium or low graphic photos are a NO! ❌
Anyways, back to it.
Part 1- Selecting the right aircraft
With some aircraft in Infinite Flight clearly more advanced in terms of appearance and features, some are not very photogenic at all. My preference is to stick to the newer aircraft for better quality photos and more appealing exterior features. I stay away from older aircraft, i.e C-17, A380, A340, etc. I’ve tried but it’s just not great. If you use newer aircraft your photos will turn out better. However there are some exceptions such as the F22 which can be captured very well, using the right angles.
Part 2 - Selecting angles
Now let’s say you have your chosen aircraft and livery for your flight, and you have opened up your replay. This is where either the magic begins, or the mistakes begin. The biggest thing I keep in mind when selecting my angles is zoom. I love close up shots and consider that my “style”.
Now, if you intend on posting these to the IFC, here’s some advice. When I post photos to the IFC, I used to do flight reports of one flight with about 10 pictures, but I have stopped doing this. I felt restricted to only one aircraft, and the photos weren’t coming out as good. Don’t limit yourself to just one flight, use photos from several different flights to give more variety and opportunities for yourself.
The next piece of advice I have for you: Take lots of photos. As I stated above, I usually use 6 or 7 replays for each topic, taking anywhere from 5-20 photos of each. Sometimes I take a photo in the replay thinking it will be great, and the editing doesn’t work out. Sometimes I take a photo thinking it will be alright, and it turns out amazing after editing. You need to have some extras in case things don’t go well.
Now that you have your replay open, think about what would make for good photos. If you had a parallel takeoff with somebody or flew over some really nice mountains or flew out of a hub airport, all of those would make great photos.
Oh, and whatever you do, do not use default camera views. Just don’t. Why would you be so boring and bland when you’ve got the glorious free camera? Get creative!
Part 3 - Lighting
Lighting is very important in photography. A backlit photo can turn a beautiful shot into a dark, bland, detail-lacking photo. We always want the light on our aircraft or subject, with a few exceptions.
Something to keep in mind is obviously runway headings. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. With our fantastic replay mode, we have the ability to change the time, weather, and date as we wish. Take advantage of this.
If you are departing from an airport with runways facing east-west, like EGLL, KLAX, and many more, change the time so that the sun is on your aircraft or behind you. You never want to be able to see the sun, not only for your virtual eyes but also because that means the sun is not on your aircraft.
For bonus points, you can bank at an angle so that the sun hits your aircraft just right.
Example: Taken at TNCM, an East-West runway. Departed east and banked south, set the time to after sunrise so I’d get some golden light.
Now, let’s talk about some different shots to try in your replay.
Replay Shot - Moonshots
For a great moonshot, we want a large full moon, (preferably, half can make good photos too) and good lighting on our aircraft. Follow Deer’s tutorial to get a basic understanding of moonshots. To get a full moon this large in our photo, pause your replay, use free cam and set the time so that the moon is aligned with your aircraft. Now, to get the moon as large as possible we need to zoom out as far as possible. Move away from your aircraft, keeping the moon behind your aircraft. Keep going until either the moon won’t fin in your frame or you hit the limit for as far as the free cam can go (3nm). The photo below was taken at max distance. When I take moonshots, I prefer to take them on Solo at KLAX. Here is an example of a Solo Moonshot at KLAX. We have a large full moon behind our well lit aircraft, a perfectly executed moonshot. Now let’s talk about how I did this.
KLAX’s runways face East-West. Several other airports’ runways do too, so you don’t have to use KLAX. The sun obviously sets in the west, rise in the east, and the Moon, when full, is on the opposite directions. For this shot I set the time and date to February 9, 2020, at around 8 AM PST. I departed west, then turned south, so that I had the rising sun shining on one side of my aircraft and the full moon, beginning to set in the east, behind me. In terms of altitude, you don’t necessarily need to climb to cruise, this was taken at 5000 feet. Additionally for a moonshot, make sure your visibility is set to max, 50km.
Now, you don’t need too be this meticulous for every shot, but this is just how I roll. Ideally, just have good lighting and east-west heading so that you get the side of your aircraft. You can also get creative with other angles, but I think east-west looks best.
Final remarks: Zoom out for larger moon, fly east or west to have you aircraft’s side in the photo, don’t crop the moon or your aircraft.
Replay Shot - Formation / Group Flights
For group flights, things can get trickier. Going into it, remember, zoom, and don’t crop important aircraft parts. First, let’s talk about group flights.
Depending on your group size, your replay could provide various different photo opportunities. Let’s look at some photos I took of an IFAE group flight of 7-8 people into a busy airspace.
Now going into this replay, I wanted to get some shots of our group departing, and arriving into a packed EGLL. There were some close airborne calls which I knew would look great in the photos. For group flights, the general phases of flight that provide the best photo ops are: Group parked at gates, lining up/departing and Arrival. Occasionally, some taxi shots can turn out nice too.
Here I jumped to said phases of flight that would be most photogenic. Using zoom, crop, and color, I was able to get shots like this. Here is us at the gate. I went for a nose shot, but still wanted the nice “SWISS” showing on all aircraft. I rotated the picture to add a little spice. Additionally, this photo was taken East-West style, our aircraft were faced south, so I set the time to evening to get the sun on our aircraft for a nice photo.
Here’s another shot from that flight. As I stated earlier, I knew going into the replay that there were some close calls which would make for some great photos. I got just what I wanted here, using free cam to zoom out to almost max distance, so that the aircraft 2000 feet below me doesn’t appear super small.
Now that we have Group Flights covered, let’s talk about formation.
Formation flights need to be perfectly planned and executed for a great photo. Communication is key. Things that make a great formation photo are synchronized turns, or parallel takeoff/landings. Additionally, I’d recommend using the same aircraft and livery, unless it’s for something like the Airbus 50 years flight.
For military aircraft such as the F-22, editing can bring out so much detail, which I will discuss later… For now let’s take a look at some photos. In this first photo, I just applied the tips and tricks we have discussed above. Zooming out with the free cam, then zooming in so that our aircraft fill the frame. Additionally this photo was taken on a south heading so that the sun, which was setting in the west, shone on our aircraft banking right.
Now for commercial aircraft, the aircraft are much larger so the only real differences are you’ll have to zoom out more. Other than that, it’s just applying our lighting and zoom techniques, which can create some great results. Just like the photo above, we have a synchronized turn in two aircraft of the same livery. Now for this photo, the editing enhanced it much more than expected.
Replay shot - Mountains / Scenery
Infinite Flight has some gorgeous scenery, and with the ability to change time and weather, you can take scenery shots to the next level.
Mountains are a prime examples of this. Using the Weather tab in the Replay feature, you can lower the visibility, making for stunning foggy mountains. Using correct lighting, this can provide for some phenomenal scenery and photos, as seen below. Just be sure once again to have your aircraft large but at the same time, it shouldn’t fill up the frame too much, we need to be able to see the mountains.
In this photo I wanted a retro, darker foggy feel, mimicking @Anshul28’s style. I used the DC-10 for this and it came out very well. Location: Southern tip of South America.
I went a totally different way for this one, making it warm, vibrant, and colorful, which I feel is a representation of my style. Location: Turkey
Replay Shots - Tricks
There are a few tricks you can use to enhance your photos even more, the first of which is frozen fanblades. Seen in many real life spotting photos, this is when the fanblades of an engine are captured at such an angle that hey appear “frozen”. To achieve this in Infinite Flight, you must sacrifice your virtual passengers. Turning off your engines on final is how you complete this. NOTE: It is advised that you do this on Solo.
Here, I used this trick to replicate one of @AndrewWu’s photos. Obviously I couldn’t replicate the shine on the underbelly, and it isn’t tilted enough, but I tried my best.
Another trick, this time aircraft specific, is gear tilt on the 787. When you deploy the 787’s gear, they go down, tilt like they do in real life, then straighten out nice and brick-like again. If you pause your replay at the perfect time, you can capture this gear tilt, as seen below.
Editing either makes or breaks a photo, there is no in between. However, the angle of your photo is the heart and the editing is the brain. Both equally important, and they work together. Without one done well, the other is screwed. Let’s talk about how to edit your photos like a boss.
Let’s start with what I use to edit. I use a combination of PhotoShop Express (PsX), Snapseed, PicsArt and Pixlr, all of which are free on the app store. I don’t use any pro features, just the basics. My main editor is PsX, followed by Snapseed, which I originally used when I started screenshotting. Both are great and I use them for different things that I need. If I want Lens Blur, I go to Snapseed, but PsX has better filters and adjustments.
Let’s edit this photo together.
Step 1 - Filter
Our first step when we have our raw photo is to pop it into PsX. I usually apply a filter, but it’s not mandatory, you can adjust things to your liking in the “Adjustments” tab. When you first open a photo in PsX, it’ll go to the “Looks” page, which essentially is the filters.
My favorite filters are under “Charm”, “Warm”, and “HDR”. For this one I’m going to scroll right to HDR and choose the filter “HDR3”. However when I first put it on, it makes the fuselage look too warm and yellow for my taste, so using the blue slider below the image, I tone it down so that it looks better. Tip: The little box preview above each filter is what it looks like with the full filter/feature applied. It’s a preview so you don’t need to click on each one.
Step 2 - Adjustments
Now that we have our filter applied, let’s click the “Adjustments” tab on the bottom right. This is where the real magic happens. Essentially now I just slide things around until it looks pretty, but for teaching sake I’ll walk you guys through it. First, to add some shine and brightness, I add some exposure, sliding the blue slider to 10. Be careful with this, overexposed photos are no bueno.
Now it’s looking better, but it looks a little hazy and dull. I want to sharpen it up. So I add some contrast, highlights, and a little bit of shadows and “blacks” to even it out. Note when I say some I mean some, not full effect. Just subtle.
The last thing I do before exporting to my camera roll is add clarity, this just enhances it and makes it look shiny and clear and real nice. This is the only feature where I slide the slider all the way to 100. It is very subtle.
Note that I didn’t touch the saturation, temperature, or anything like that. I never mess with these, it’s not needed at all. Oversaturation kills a photo immediately.
Now, I export my photo, put some finishing touches on it, and voila:
This photo is finished and turned out great. Now, let’s look at some other editing tips.
Not needed in all photos, but it can spice a photo up. I personally like to use rotation in some pictures, however since we are rotating, the corners will be cut off, so if you take a shot and plan on rotating it, make sure it’s zoomed out more than you want your final shot to be, so that you have room to crop and rotate without anything being cut off. Here’s an example of rotation in one of my photos.
In terms of cropping, never crop important parts of the aircraft. It’s okay to crop part of a tail fin, but be careful not to cut engines or gear. Sometimes for close ups, you can crop parts of the wing, just be clean. Don’t leave half an engine in a picture.
Note: If you take your IF replay shots on a phone, the size will be different. ALl my photos are taken on iPad so the photos are larger. On a phone, they will not be as large. However this does not in any way shape or form limit the quality or abilities of your photos. People like @NoahM create insane photos all on a phone.
The power of editing
Editing can really take your photos to the next level. As we finish off, here are some unedited vs. edited photos of mine.
Now that you know how to edit like a pro, the possibilities are endless. Get creative, be unique, and most of all, have fun. Here’s some of the things I have done that you can recreate yourself!
I hope this tutorial has helped you in some way to start your Infinite Flight photography career. The possibilities are endless, and all of this can be done from your device. If you need any help, feel free to shoot me a PM. Thank you all for reading, have a great day, and stay safe.
Credits / Thank you's
All photos: @Suhas
In celebration of my 100th topic last post, I decided to make this to assist people who want to take their photos to the next level. I’ve been taking terrible photos since last July, but started getting better this June. However, I couldn’t have done it without this wonderful community. I’d like to thank:
@NoahM for being my first role model photographer
@AndrewWu for teaching me so much about do’s and dont’s
@Nate_Schneller for teaching me new edits and being my current inspiration
@Anshul28 for inspiring me to start photography and recommending PsX
The entire community for the amazing support you all have given me every step of the way. Thank you all for everything, here’s to thousands more hours and many more photos.