Aerial Photography

Discussion in 'Photography' started by MDS, Nov 8, 2005.

  1. MDS

    MDS Guest


    I write to enquire if any members here have attempted Aerial

    What specific considerations did you make with regards to:

    (a) equipment
    (b) technique

    If you have experience of Aerial Photography in Switzerland,
    I would appreciate your feedback on locations. Also, which
    firm(s) did you use or consider for this purpose? Where
    they willing to fly doors off?

    Thanks for your feedback,
    MDS, Nov 8, 2005
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  2. MDS

    Capture Boy Guest

    As regards to equipment the one thing you need to consider before the camera
    is the transport. Will it be Helicopter, Plane, Hot Air Balloon, Cable Car.
    Capture Boy, Nov 8, 2005
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  3. power kiting is also a very succsesful way. Does require some skill to
    get good shots. Basically you harnes the camera to a rig and send it up
    into the air with a remote camera control.
    bren_gillatt[at], Nov 8, 2005
  4. MDS

    Diverse Art Guest

    I've done some of this. I'm a pro photographer and amateur pilot.

    First, form a relationship with the people who are going to do the flying.
    Talk to them about your needs and follow their advice on what they can and
    can't do. What can be done depends a great deal on the aircraft you're
    going to be using. Many helicopters have sliding doors that can be left
    open, but make sure you are harnessed! I've shot pictures from the open
    side door of a US Marine Corps CH-46 helo but was wearing a gunner's belt
    at the time.

    Helos are expensive, though, so you might want to go for a fixed wing plane.
    A high-wing (such as a Cessna) is easier (though watch out for wing
    struts), though it is possible with low-wing, especially if you have a good
    pilot who can hold a tight, slow turn. On some aircraft, you can remove a
    door or a window. I've shot from a Cessna 172 where the window stay was
    removed. The window hinges from the top, so I could carefully open up the
    window until it was horizontal just beneath the wing, where it was held in
    place by the airflow. But this is where a good relationship comes in: I had
    to ensure the aircraft was flying slow enough before opening it, so good
    communication between you and the pilot is essential.

    I've also taken successful pics from an aircraft with a sliding canopy (a
    Rallye), because it's possible to have the canopy open by about 10-15cm in
    flight, giving a wide enough gap to shoot through. I've even shot through
    the clear-vision port of a Katana, though that meant sitting in the left
    (pilot's) seat, so I needed a pilot used to flying from the right seat
    (instructors are accustomed to this).

    In terms of gear, a short telephoto is the most useful focal length, I find
    - something in the 85mm-100mm range (for 35mm). A zoom with vibration
    damping is ideal. Switch off autofocus and manually focus at infinity.
    Don't be tempted to zoom to long focal lengths - you'll find the vibration
    a real problem.

    Watch out for horizons. When the aircraft is banking, it's easy to get wonky
    pictures. Shooting early morning is best - you get good definition of
    ground details from the lower sun. Late afternoon can be good too, but in
    some places may suffer a little from the haze that builds up during the

    Brief your pilot carefully about what you're trying to achieve. Ask him to
    reduce power while you're taking pictures, it'll reduce the vibrations, but
    be aware that, especially when banking (ie, turning), there's a limit to
    how slow he can go before the aircraft stalls (a *bad* thing at low

    How low you go depends on what you're trying to photograph and any legal
    restrictions (eg, there are minimum heights for flying over towns &
    villages, people, buildings, nature reserves etc, and there may be
    restricted, prohibited or other kinds of airspace that limit your options).
    In general, however, I've got my best results from 500-1000ft. (In most
    countries, 500ft is the lowest you're allowed if there are people, animals
    or buildings).

    Take plenty of film/memory cards, but don't overload yourself with other
    gear. Cockpits are cramped places - you're best off with a single body and

    Hope that helps.

    Diverse Art, Nov 8, 2005
  5. MDS

    Paul Furman Guest

    I've heard of using a rather expensive gyroscope device to stabilize the
    camera from the airplane's bouncing & vibration. Same basic idea as a VR
    or IS lense.

    If you haven't yet, check out google earth, it's almost like being
    there. Anyways you could scout out locations easily that way.
    Paul Furman, Nov 8, 2005
  6. MDS

    MDS Guest

    It will be a helicopter. R22 and the R44 Raven 2 types.
    MDS, Nov 8, 2005
  7. MDS

    Michael Guest

    I shoot digital with a Canon 10D & 20D using a Canon 2.8L IS 70-200
    lens. I try to keep my shutter speed pretty high (around 1/250
    to1/500). Biggest problem I find is the haze. Photoshop can do a lot
    to correct the haze, but is not a fix-all solution.

    Weather is a huge factor as well in addition to relative distance from
    your target. In Florida we have a good amount of haze this time of
    year which requires you to get relatively low/close to what you are
    trying to shoot.

    I hope this helps.
    Michael, Nov 9, 2005
  8. MDS

    Ray Guest

    Ray, Nov 26, 2005
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