Mr. Modem: Enlarge your creative window of opportunity

I'm going to be flying to Europe next month and would like to take some photos from the plane. I've tried it before, but never with good results. I'm using a real camera, not a mobile phone. Any suggestions?

-- Mr. M.

Taking pictures from an airplane can be fun or challenging, or result in spontaneous unpleasantness, particularly if you are not in a window seat. There are, however, a few things you can do to ensure top-notch in-flight photos -- assuming you aren't wrestled to the floor first:

1. Clean the window. Dirt, scratches or other disgusting debris will adversely affect your photos. Be sure to ring your call button as often as possible and request that the flight attendant clean your window several times throughout the flight.

2. Seating matters. A window seat in front of the wing is ideal, but consider using an IR (infrared) filter to prevent cross-polarization -- the coveted purple-rainbow effect achieved by shooting through the plane's multilayered windows.

3. Don't use your flash.

5. Minimize vibrations. Place your camera as close to the window as you can without letting the lens frame touch the glass.

6. Choose interesting subjects, such as coastlines or clouds.

In addition to the above suggestions, the flight crew will be able to tell you the exact points from which you can take the best photographs with the most breathtaking views. Remember, they have nothing better to do than provide tips to help you take the best photos possible.

After your trip, don't forget to invite your neighbors over to enjoy your photographic wizardry. Three-hour slide shows should be about right. You can never say "You should have been there" frequently enough. Mr. Modem publishes "Ask Mr. Modem!" each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by e-mail. For more information, visit