Since I had spent the entire morning taking photographs at this point, I figured a stop by the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport was in the cards.
The Dulles museum has always been a great place to try photo equipment for me; it’s much darker inside than photos lead you to believe; there are all sorts of different lights at different temperatures (color tones); lots of shiny surfaces and lots of enormous planes that are hard to get all in one frame. The one caveat? No tripods are allowed in the building. This is actually policy for the entire Smithsonian Museum complex of buildings; still photography and video is allowed (with some posted exceptions), but not tripods.
So if you want to take decent photos of the aircraft at the Udvar-Hazy Center, go big with fast glass or go home. Point-and-shoot cameras with twinkie lights don’t cut it; I know because I’ve tried them just to see the results. It’s not pretty. The same can be said with any lens slower than an f/2.0, though I’ve been able to shoot darker images with an f/2.8 lens. And strobes? Forget it. Many of the aircraft have polished surfaces and will mirror the flash right back at you. Bouncing the strobe off the ceiling is impossible, as it’s 10-stories high and the length of three football fields — I don’t know of any non-professional portable strobes powerful enough to illuminate an interior space that immense.
For the following shots I had the camera set to aperture priority, auto ISO (between 100 and 2000), the lens was kept wide open at f/1.8, I constantly switched between multi-metering and spot-metering, and I braced against as many things as I could to act as a jury-rigged tripod. As a result, most of the images are relatively noise-free and don’t have a lot of body-movement to them. Enjoy.