Tag Archives: properllor

The Conflict of Sharpness and Prop Vortices

Damp days can make for great prop vortices on takeoff.  However, I have been feeling less than satisfied with my results recently.  As I was going through some shots, I made a discovery that should probably have been something I worked out before.  I like to have a good amount of prop blur so drop the shutter speed down when I can.  I go with a high frame rate with the aim of getting a good sharp shot amongst the more blurry examples.

As I go through the shots, the sharp ones have okay prop vortices but not great.  Then I will come across some really nice vortices but the shot is otherwise not sharp.  It seems that, in panning with the plane to get a sharp shot, the trailing vortex gets blurred out.  If I am not panning well, the vortex can be the thing I have tracked better and it shows up well.  I have seen shots from others with the props almost frozen with a high shutter speed and the vortices easily seen.

Consequently, I am going to have to make a decision in future.  How much prop blur do I want versus the ability to see the vortices well.  A little trial and error will be involved.  At least it is fall/winter so the Pacific Northwest will probably provide me plenty of damp days on which to experiment!

Lots of Prop Vortices

Departure day at RIAT was a bit overcast, much like the majority of the show.  The damp atmosphere did have the positive effect of meaning many of the more powerful prop aircraft were pulling vortices from the tips of their propellers.  This was most obvious earlier in their take off runs but you could get a  pretty good view of it even head on from where I was sitting in the FRIAT stand.  Here is one of the Hercs that was beating the air into submission.