Removing the door is why I'm planning on waiting for spring.
Thanks for that Air to Air beginner thread. Lots of good info there. I don't know why I didn't find it on my search through this forum.
Capn Jack wrote in post #18192127
How much do your "local pilots" know about formation flying? Your pilot should know something about formation flying too.
I'm not sure why you felt the need to put "local pilots" in quotes. However, as you insinuated, they do have varied flight experience. One aircraft that is a possibility albeit very remote is flown primarily by ex-military guys. There are also people around here that do the annual Bonanza/Mooney/RV to Oshkosh trip and have experience from that. Then there are 50 hour sport pilots renting from a local flight school (probably not the ones flying the aircraft I'd like to photograph).
On the other-hand, as noted in this article on the Air & Space Magazine site (http://www.airspacemag.com ...ointer-and-shooter-4848/), many air to air shoots are done with less experienced pilots in the subject aircraft. Yes, it does require a more thorough preflight briefing and some extra precautions while flying. Some preliminary calculations showed me that at a focal length of 200mm, I'd be looking for the subject aircraft to be approximately 225 feet away (assuming ~25' wingspan, which is pretty reasonable for SEL GA aircraft). Based on my experience flying in groups with friends, that's easily achievable, and is in fact pretty extreme, even for less experienced pilots. With less experienced pilots you wouldn't be doing the close-up, wide-angle shots that Paul Bowen does @ ~24mm, but I think there should be a happy medium where everyone is comfortable and safe executing the mission.
As for lighting, it seems like a lot of the photos I've seen online are lit with the sun shining on the propeller's axis of rotation. This seems to be better for getting the blurred prop disk to actually show, but usually seems to end up with a shadow down the aft part of the fuselage, where it starts tapering towards the tail. It does seem to usually leave the pilot's faces lit a bit better.
Others are lit from over the photographer's shoulder. This seems to leave the prop disk a bit more invisible, but has smoother lighting down the entire length of the fuselage.
Then there's the silouette shots with the aircraft backlit with the setting sun, not really what I'd like to try for my first attempt.
Is there anything I'm missing in my thoughts on the direction of the sun?
Constructive criticism is always appreciated.