Perfect Plane Photography – The Art Of The Image Edit

Aviation photographer Vincenzo Pace is regularly featured on Simple Flying, with an array of stunning shots captured in and around the US. Vincenzo runs an annual editing competition as a way to guide and inspire younger aviation enthusiasts. This year’s winner is 16-year-old Arkin Si from San Francisco.

Vincenzo Pace photo editing competition
Arkin’s winning entry was an edit of an Etihad A380. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |; Edit: Arkan Si

Inspiring the next generation

Aviation lovers around the world have spent many a cold, wet and windy day on the peripheries of airports in a bid to get a great shot of an unusual or beautiful plane. Spotting aircraft has, for many, become their favorite weekend activitiy, and often results in some jaw-droppingly beautiful images of aircraft taking off and landing.

However, the most beautiful shots are often elevated to stunning perfection not by the photographer’s position or the quality of their equipment, but by the time and effort put in at home to perform a perfect edit. As a prominent aviation photographer in the US, Vincenzo Pace feels it is his calling to educate and inspire the next generation, which he does through an annual editing contest. Vincenzo told us,

“Plane spotting is a great hobby for our younger aviation enthusiasts to embrace, so I take pride in playing an active role in helping these future industry leaders get involved in our vibrant community. One of the ways I try to do this is by hosting an annual edit challenge on my @jfkjetsofficial Instagram account to give members of the plane spotting community an opportunity to push their photo editing skills.”

In conjunction with Simple Flying, Vincenzo recently concluded his Second Annual Edit Challenge. 32 contestants were randomly selected from over 150 entrants and were sent at random one of my Vincenzo’s raw photographs to edit. Vincenzo revealed the results, saying,

“After several rounds of voting by their fellow aviation enthusiasts via Instagram Stories, Arkin Si, a 16-year-old aviation photographer and spotter from San Francisco, California, won the Edit Challenge with a brilliant edit of my Etihad Airbus A380 Photo from JFK.”

Perfect Plane Photography – The Art Of The Image Edit
Arkan’s edit, the before and after. Photo: Arkan Si

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Meet Arkin Si

Following his victory, Vincenzo took the opportunity to talk with Arkin about his passion for aviation, photography and photo editing.

Arkin became interested in aviation at a very young age as he lived close to his local airport, SFO, and always used to go out to Bayfront Park (a popular SFO spotting location) to casually take pictures of the planes with his point-and-shoot camera. After he started learning how to use a DSLR camera in his middle school years, Arkin started plane spotting regularly and continues to this day with a strong passion for this wonderful hobby.

Arkin Si
One of Arkin’s beautiful shots. Photo: Arkin Si

While taking pictures is obviously the principal aspect of the plane spotting hobby, editing a photo also plays a crucial role in a photo’s final presentation. There are many diverse editing styles in aviation photography, which allows many dynamic interpretations of an airplane photo, from more traditional editing styles to dramatic and edgy. Arkin explained his approach to photo editing,

“Don’t be afraid of experimenting because that’s how you get better as an editor. Experimentation is all part of the process of editing and can help improve the look of your photos. If you accidentally mess up your photo, you definitely know what to not do next time, but if your experiment pays off, your photos can look a lot better. Additionally, to make editing easier in the first place, shoot your photos in RAW with the correct settings. A simple push of a button could mean the difference between a blurry photo and a sharp photo.”

Perfect Plane Photography – The Art Of The Image Edit
Arkin has been taking photographs of planes since he was a young boy. Photo: Arkin Si

There are many different editing programs available to assist in a photographer’s workflow to produce a quality edited image. Arkin, for example, mainly uses Photoshop for basic edits, such as recovering photos and color work. He also uses Luminar 4 to enhance his image and with software tools that allow his photos to “pop”. This was used in his winning edit from the Edit Challenge.

Photography aside, Arkin is a passionate aviation enthusiast who’s favorite aircraft include the Boeing 747 & 787 and Airbus A350. Arkin offers some great insight on his favorite aircraft from different ages, saying,

“The iconic 747 is the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of people if they think about aviation, but the 787 and A350 are very futuristic and symbolize the future of aviation and travel.”

Looking ahead, Arkin hopes to pursue a career in aviation, with sights on potentially studying Aerospace Engineering or Airport Management. The future of aviation is very bright with up and coming community members like Arkin setting a positive example for his peers.