The people behind the planes

PrivateFly photo award winning imageIt was fascinating to me that the overall winning image from our recent Private Jet Photography Awards was a view inside a cockpit. A relatively rare sight indeed in aviation photography.

When you think about great private jet photos – or indeed aviation photography in general – the immediate image that pops into your mind is an aircraft exterior, probably set against a beautiful backdrop or showcasing its performance in some way.

And there is certainly much to admire in the lines of an aircraft, whether in flight or on the ground.

There is a significant number of photographers who dedicate their lives to following private aircraft around the world, attending major aviation events such as NBAA or EBACE, where a concentration of private jets can be found. It’s a well-established community and a fascinating world.

Board Meeting by John FordEven when photographers do capture the interior of a private jet it’s usually to show the passenger cabin, with its leather seating, bespoke design or VIP catering.

Again it’s not really surprising, this is all exceptionally pleasing to the eye and something that people are fascinated by.

Yet when you see these stunning images, it’s quite possible to focus entirely on the beauty of the machine and its parts.

You can easily forget that it is airborne courtesy of a Captain, a First Officer and an army of technicians, engineers and other individuals in a variety of roles who design, built, maintain and handle the aircraft and its associated services.

Even with all the best technology in the world, a private jet doesn’t get up in the sky by itself!

As a private jet pilot myself, I am obviously very aware of the importance of people in our industry.

That’s why we included a Crew category in the photography awards. It was a great way to recognise that private aviation is as much about people as it is about planes.

Some of those people venture into photography themselves, including Jose Maria Ocana Rizo, who took the prizewinning photo.

Portrait of Jose OcanaHere Jose tells us more about taking the photograph – and combining life as a pilot and photographer.

Where and when did you take the photo?

The picture was taken 1 March 2013. The aircraft, a Bombardier CRJ-900, is on short final runway 31R at Marseille airport (France).

What camera and lens did you use?

I used a Nikon D800 camera with a Sigma 15mm lens. The speed was 4 seconds to create the light trails. F4 and ISO 400.

How did the opportunity come up? Was it a spontaneous or a carefully planned shot?

The picture was planned. I work as pilot and photography is my greatest hobby. In fact, I was the captain of that flight. I love to combine my two passions in my images and transmit some of the views and feelings I have working.

The camera was mounted on a tripod located behind the captain seat and I used a remote trigger. I composed the image to include the breakers panel behind the co-pilot and increase the window view as much as possible. The frame was tilted to get a more dynamic shot.

I waited to be close to the runway to take the picture, it can be seen appearing in the horizon. Close to the ground the lights move faster and create longer light trails. I coordinated with the First Officer to minimize movements as possible to avoid blurring him.

Can you tell us more about your career as a pilot?

I was born in 1972 and since I was a child I always wanted to be a pilot. When I finished college, I went to University and I got a bachelor degree in Technical Aeronautic Engineering. At the same time I did a pilot course to get my commercial pilot licence.

After two years working as an engineer, I passed the screening to join Air Nostrum as pilot in 2001. Since then I have been flying the Fokker 50 and Bombardier CRJ-200 and CRJ 900 Regional Jets. I was a CRJ instructor for three years and in 2006 I was promoted to Captain, my current position. I have 7800 flying hours under my belt.

One of my hobbies is photography. I like all disciplines but at the moment I am more prolific with aeronautical compositions. I take pictures of aircraft on the ground and I put them in flight with Photoshop. The aircraft are from the airport, museums, airshows… The background pictures are mostly pictures I take from cockpit, clouds, sunsets, airports…