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Author Topic: Aerial Photography  (Read 5712 times)
RdL
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« on: October 21, 2003, 12:37:51 PM »
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These comments will not answer all your questions, but the two most important items are vibrationand wind.  Higher shutter speeds are important to minimize the effects of vibrations but its also important not to allow the camera to touch any surface of the plane, or to try to brace your upper body against the inside of the plane.  Your body will help absorb some vibrations as long as you keep the "source" as far as possible from the camera.  400 spoeed film is probably the best balance between speed and quality for this application.  If you have the chance to open a window and poke the lens slightly out, then do it as most aircraft windows are not optically very good (!) -- but beware of the wind.  Lens hoods and slip on filters can easily be pulled off in an instant.  As far as lenses go, it depends on how low the plane can get permission to fly.  I would guess the wide angle would not be of much use for house photography, the 80-300 is probably the best bet.  If you have space, bring them all along -- one less thing to complain that you forgot !
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« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2003, 04:09:40 PM »
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I did have the chance to take a number of pictures from aboard an aircraft last December. The flight was part of my studies (aerospace engineering), and the institute's test pilot is also an experienced photographer. He advised me to keep my shutter speeds at 1/500s or faster, and that I would probably need ISO 400 film. Well, the weather was bad enough that I ended up using Superia 800 (solid overcast on a December morning). All shots were wide open or stopped down 1/2 or 1 stop at most. Depth of field is not much of an issue here...

I had several lenses with me but ended up using the 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM for most shots, and the 28mm f/2.8 to include the aircraft's wing. I found the 100 to give a good field of view, as we only went up to about 1.5 km. A 50mm might also be handy if you're real low, but with a wide-angle you'll probably end up with parts of wing or fuselage somewhere in the picture. The key for me was the f/2.8 aperture to keep shutter speeds high. Depending on the weather during your flight you may well be able to get away with a slower lens and/or slower film.

In my case, the 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM didn't even make it onto the plane... And while IS does reduce vibrations very well, you'll still be moving quite fast relative to your target, and you'll get motion blur if you try to reduce shutter speeds with the help of IS.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2003, 03:05:18 PM »
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Aerials rank right up there with underwater in terms of difficulty.  Everything's moving in 3D all the time.

Feature film shooters use helicopters and a gyrostabilized, counterbalanced, servo-controlled nodal point mount called a Tyler Mount. The mount itself rents for over $500 a day.

Long lenses are a big problem to hold steady enough. For stills, the higher the shutter speed the better, as others have said.

Take along at least two large ziploc bags. If you have to ask what these are for, don't go.

Relax up there. It's easy to get carried away with the excitement of flying and shooting. Concentrate on photography.
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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2003, 08:10:54 PM »
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You gus are wicked... zip locks!

1000mm was an f11 mirror and shutter speed 2000th. Example on my website of Tower Bridge - but that was from a blimp - cheating huh!
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BryanHansel
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2003, 07:34:57 PM »
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Thanks for the help.  If the weather is good, we are going up on Monday.  The only zip locks I'll need are the ones that hold my film.  Smiley  I managed to scam a 80-200 2.8 from a friend and his camera.
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BryanHansel
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2003, 11:10:06 AM »
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I have a chance to take pictures out of a small plane in exchange for shooting photos of a house.  I want to maximize the potential here, so any advice on what film to use or what size lens work best, and any advice of shutter speeds and the like would help out greatly.  I currently own a 24mm, 35-70mm, 80-300mm, and a 300mm, plus a 1.4x.  None are VR.  I am thinking of using Sensia 400.

Thank you,
Bryan
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2003, 01:43:15 PM »
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In general, shoot with your lens wide open. If shooting through a window, the larger your aperture, the less visible any scratches or dirt on the window will be in the photo. Also, a wide open aperture allows the fastest shutter speed, which is very important when shooting from a fast-moving aircraft with turbulence and vibration to deal with.
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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2003, 01:27:45 AM »
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Everything above on shutter speed is correct, it is more about the vibration than movement of the plane.  A film crew will use fluid head dolly, you need to dampen the vibration, you can use a mono pod and rest it on something soft like your stomach or leg. If you are lucky enough with the pilot is to ask them to put your subject in line with the wing on a turn, making the your target the center of the turn circle.

Now your choice of lens is not easy, key is how large you want the house in the frame. You can do a little experiment on the ground. Get an approximate distance from plane to house (that is line of sight not hight and ground distance). Try then standing that distance from the house or one the same size and judge for your self remembering the profile of a house is larger from the air! The bridges over the river Thames in London need a 1,000mm lens from an altitude of 1,100feet. Normally I will carry an 80-200, 400 and 1,000.  

Exposure, be careful metering off the ground, as you may get unexpected reflections from windows, water etc., skewing the readings. I have found a green field or wide road works well.

Good luck
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Hank
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« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2003, 04:13:04 PM »
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Be aware that a warming filter is often a good idea for film.  Carry a polarizer too, in case reflections are too bad from a specific angle you want to shoot.  I'm assuming you are shooting from a high-wing rather than a low-wing plane.  Options are pretty limited in the latter.   Ziplocs manditory, stuffed into the pockets of a warm jacket.  Don't forget gloves and a warm hat.

We generally shoot door-off from either planes or helicopters so we don't do lens changes, etc, rather carry multiple bodies with a lens on each.  If you drop something in a manouvering plane, even with the door on, it is quickly out of reach so plan ahead.  Watch film grain and potential loss of sharpness at wide-open apertures with some lenses.  The combination can cost you a lot of resolution when detail is important.  Our rule of thumb is to shoot f/8 @ 1/500 w/ 100 ISO, then compromise on grain with faster films if light levels are lower.  1/500 is our minimum shutter speed w/o IS, 1/250 w/ IS for lenses less than 100 mm.  Most useful lens is a zoom in the 35-70, 28-135 or similar range.  Can't imagine the shutter speed you would need with a 1000mm.

Hank
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2003, 11:13:32 AM »
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Ziplocs rule for this application.  Only disadvantage is that the contents are visible.  : )

Peter
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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2003, 06:02:36 PM »
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Peter, that is just gross  so pleased I have never had the problem, been looped over a few times and all the sensations but never needed the ziplock. Supose some wetwipes help too then!
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