Shooting out Small Windows

If you shoot out a small window with a regular pan head you will see the window frame very soon. This can be avoided by pivoting the camera around the front of the lens closer to the window. One way is to modify an O' Connor 100 C head buy removing one tilt spring so the camera will balance back from the head with the front of the lens near the pan axis of the head.

You will have to adjust the "U" bolts that attach the camera platform to the splined axle on the head. Operating is not as easy and video assist can help. I developed this modification for shooting out a Lear Jet 24 window. The later Lears have even smaller windows. Also helpful is a 150 mm ball head under the O'Connor and a 150mm cup on a 2"IPS pipe to a second 150 mm ball with a 2 "wall flange on a 150 mm hi hat to allow adjustment at the window. Different maneuvers by the planes required different positions of the camera to the window and for horizon correction.
There must be more ways to pivot the camera about the front of the lens close to the window. Gas springs and a gimbals at the window might work. In aircraft work horizon correction is helpful.

The Arri III forward viewfinders door or Jurgen Video Door makes operating a little easier.

When operating in a plane doing hard turns your body takes a lot of strain. Keeping up to the finder and operating is not easy. Blacking the opposite windows is important to avoid reflections in the window you are shooting out of.

Make sure your camera, lens or rig can't scratch the plane window. These windows cost many thousand dollars to replace. Passenger planes have "scratch panels" to protect the real windows that can be removed by maintenance people. I can't suggest shooting out of full size planes because of the small windows, but it is possible.

Attaching your tripod or hi hat to a solid base can be a problem. Tripods are almost impossible to position. The toilet in the Lear provided some tie down points and a solid base. Do check out and measure the exact plane that you might be working with if possible. Bring flexible rigs. Make brackets to tie to the seat rails out of 1"x 1/4" x 2" angle aluminum with holes for bolts and closed "S" hooks. Ratchet straps are very helpful for tying down your rig. An open tray for magazines is helpful. Communications very important. (See Shooting Air to Air)

If you have to supply a window to shoot out, "crystal" plate glass is very flat and has no color. Single strength has green color and is not as flat which will show up on longer lens shots. Plexiglas is flat and colorless, but scratches. Scratches can be buffed out, but the Plexiglas looses its flatness with many polishings.

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