Aircraft De-Icing

47mm  f/5.6  1/60sec  ISO200

Yesterday morning I had to go to our airport and I thought I could use the chance and take some photos of planes being de-iced. Some years ago the airport re-arranged it's apron due to a new runway and created areas dedicated for aircraft de-icing. There is one place outside the fence which is high enough to get a nearly free view of that area. My idea was to go this place because it was freezing cold and in the morning there should be high traffic. Since this apron area is dedicated to de-icing I was optimistic in getting lots of photo chances. When arriving there my hopes have been proved true, because there was a big plane currently being de-iced. I was a bit disappointed to have missed it, but was still sure it wouldn't take long for next one. So I prepared my camera and waited in my warm car. And waited and waited and waited.

There were lots of other planes departing in the meantime, but they all must have got de-iced at their parking position. It took about an hour before the next plane arrived at the de-icing point. And matching my bad luck for today it was only a small aircraft. But I took the chance, grabbed my tripod and camera and went up to the higher place. They soon started the de-icing procedure and I started taking photos of it.

47mm  f/5.6  1/80sec  ISO200
The scene looked very dramatic. The trucks with their cranes and pipes look very strange when moving around. They are called "Elephant". It looked like aliens were observing the plane. And suddenly heavy steam clouds were covering certain areas of the aircraft. The fluid used for de-icing is not only a chemical mixture, it is also hot to increase melting of ice. And since it was freezing cold, heavy steam clouds appeared which gives the scene a more dramatic look. The gray and misty weather this morning with weak and soft ambient light adds perfectly to this mood. The mist is also perfect in another way, it nearly completely hides and background and thus the attention is concentrated on the action scene. The procedure took a few minutes only, the aircraft left the area and I went back to my car to warm up a bit.

After another half hour of waiting the truck drivers suddenly left their cars and went out for a break. I have been waiting another half hour before I gave up and went back home. From the many photo chances I was hoping to get only one actually happened. I was a bit frustrated, but that's life.

The camera setup: My EOS 600D was mounted on a tripod and had my EF-S 18-55mm kit lens attached. Since it was dark and gray I switched my camera into Av mode with a fixed ISO value of 200 and set aperture to the lowest possible value of f/5.6 to get faster shutter speeds. I could have selected a higher ISO value but I wanted to reduce image noise as much as possible. Additionally, camera shake protection was activated, but I forgot to disable image stabilization at lens, as it is recommended when using a tripod. To further prevent camera shakes I used the 2 seconds timer controlled release. Shutter speed was calculated by camera automatically.