Plane Crash–Perspective from a Commercial Airliner in San Francisco

By Matthew Bamberg / Jul 11, 2013

Asiana plane remnants pulled aside at the San Francisco International Airport

As I was landing on a flight from Las Vegas to San Francisco, I was hoping to get a shot of the damaged Asiana plane that struck a seawall landing short of the runway.

My thoughts ranged from “am I on the right side of the plane to catch it” to “they probably moved it away,” but low and behold just after my plane passed the seawall, the crashed plane was visible.

There were a couple of tasks I needed to do in order to get a sharp shot when moving at over 100 mph. The first was the ISO and next, the aperture since I was working in Aperture Priority Mode. Finally, there’s the necessity to set up the camera so it shoots quickly.

I decided to set the ISO at 1000 because I knew my Canon 5D Mark II could handle making the image sharp without too much noise, nothing that can’t be smoothed out in Photoshop.

Since I was working in Av (A for Nikon) mode, I knew that a wide angle wouldn’t work in terms of getting the entire image sharp, but then I couldn’t make the aperture too narrow either because of the risk of getting a soft image. So I went with the in-between Av value of 7.1.

Shooting quickly was of the utmost importance. The crashed plane was only visible through my airplane window for less than a minute. I felt that burst mode was quick way to make sure I had enough shots to choose from. I got, like, four shots–two soft, one cut off and one sharp (above).

About the author

Matthew Bamberg

Matthew Bamberg has provided photographs and written articles for various Southern California newspapers and magazines, including The Desert Sun and The Press-Enterprise. More recently, Matt has been teaching at UC Riverside while also authoring several books like the Quick and Easy Secrets book series (Cengage), Killer Photos with Your iPhone (with Kris Krug and Greg Ketchum, Cengage), the 50 Greatest Photo Opportunities in San Francisco (Cengage) and Digital Art Photography For Dummies (Wiley).