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Author Topic: Aerial Photography  (Read 3965 times)
byork
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« on: June 02, 2010, 06:37:53 AM »
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Hi all,

Sorry if this is posted in the wrong place as this is a question rather than a discussion, but.....I have been asked by a company I do some commercial work for if I'd be interested in doing aerial photography for them. As I don't have any experience in this field, (and before I take this task on) I'd appreciate any tips anyone might have in regard to technique and best lenses for the job. At present I'm using Canon 1DS & 5D mkII bodies with 16-35mm, 24-70mm & 70-200mm 2.8 IS.

Subject is likely to be a plot of land or development in progress. Bearing in mind that I'm assuming a helicopter is the way to go rather than fixed wing and I may be able to get the pilot to go reasonably close, am I likely to need a longer lens, or is my longest lens adequate? Any gear to stabilize lens? Any other suggestions appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Cheers
Brian
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2010, 11:39:15 AM »
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I haven't done aerial photography from a helicopter, only a small plane, but can tell you one useful thing that will apply to both.  The best thing for stabilizing the camera will be your own arms.  If you rest the camera on the plane/copter in any way, it will transmit a great deal of vibration to the camera.  Instead, just hold the camera as if you were taking a normal hand-held photo, and your arms will act as "shock absorbers".  (Needless to say, keep the shutter speed up to avoid blur caused by vehicle motion and the lack of a tripod or other support.)

Lisa
« Last Edit: June 02, 2010, 11:40:00 AM by Lisa Nikodym » Logged

patrickt
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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2010, 11:41:29 AM »
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Quote from: byork
Hi all,

Sorry if this is posted in the wrong place as this is a question rather than a discussion, but.....I have been asked by a company I do some commercial work for if I'd be interested in doing aerial photography for them. As I don't have any experience in this field, (and before I take this task on) I'd appreciate any tips anyone might have in regard to technique and best lenses for the job. At present I'm using Canon 1DS & 5D mkII bodies with 16-35mm, 24-70mm & 70-200mm 2.8 IS.

Subject is likely to be a plot of land or development in progress. Bearing in mind that I'm assuming a helicopter is the way to go rather than fixed wing and I may be able to get the pilot to go reasonably close, am I likely to need a longer lens, or is my longest lens adequate? Any gear to stabilize lens? Any other suggestions appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Cheers
Brian

Aerial photogrpahy covers quite a wide range of discussion. Can you be a little more specific. Is it for mapping, environmental issues, advertising, or what?

If it's cartography I problem wouldn't attempt it. I think that's a specialized field.

I have taken photos from the air and I prefer a fixed-wing plane with the wing above the fuselage. I also prefer a plane where I can take the door off and lean out. But, that's just me.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2010, 02:04:29 PM »
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There's a thread on this somewhere in the archives.  It has been discussed at length.

Air-to-ground is the easiest.  Unless you're forced into using a very long lens or shooting air-to-air or air-to-moving-ground-target, you won't need gyros or other stabilizing stuff.  Keep the lens out of the slipstream and don't brace yourself against the aircraft body.

No windows between the subject and the lens is good.  Convince the pilot to remove the camera door of the aircraft.  Shooting out an opened window is a poor substitute.

Since DOF is a non-issue, use the highest shutter speed you can.  Usually 1/1000 or more is good.

You may be surprised that a long lens is more useful than a wide one.  It depends on the location and how close you can get to the subject.

Helicopters cost more than fixed wing aircraft but offer far better flexibility for photographers.  If the client's paying for a helicopter, he'll get his money's worth. Positioning the aircraft for the best shot is far easier with a helicopter.  Make sure you have good intercom communications with the pilot.  Shouting sucks.

Weather is by far the biggest variable.  Shoot as early in the day as you have light for.  The air gets rougher later.
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byork
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« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2010, 07:56:04 PM »
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Thanks Lisa, Patrick & Peter for your replies...all very helpful.

Patrick,the subject is advertising for land developments.

Peter, a search produced this discussion on Gyro use,

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....ial+photography

Very helpful, but was there another one you had in mind?

Cheers
Brian
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2010, 10:44:01 PM »
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Quote from: byork
Peter, a search produced this discussion on Gyro use,

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....ial+photography

Very helpful, but was there another one you had in mind?

Cheers
Brian

Yes, that was the one.  The main thing to remember if it's your first aerial shoot is to keep your cool.  It's both stressful and exciting up there.  Relax and concentrate on checking what you've got and make sure to get lots of coverage.  Variety will save your bacon.



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eleanorbrown
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2010, 09:08:08 AM »
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Hi Brian, several things come to mind...you need stable air, a small plane with wings on top of the cockpit that you can shoot out of an open window with and someone in back to hold the window open for you, and a pilot that is willing to position the plane for the best shooting angles.  A couple of years ago I hired a pilot from Wrangle Mountain Air in McCarthy, Alaska for several hours and we flew among Alaska's Wrangle St Elias Mountains (the snow and glacier covered mountains topping out at just over 18,000 feet)....we flew at about 12,000 feet and had ideal conditions.  I learned a lot about what works best for photography of this sort.  good luck and have fun! Eleanor

Quote from: byork
Hi all,

Sorry if this is posted in the wrong place as this is a question rather than a discussion, but.....I have been asked by a company I do some commercial work for if I'd be interested in doing aerial photography for them. As I don't have any experience in this field, (and before I take this task on) I'd appreciate any tips anyone might have in regard to technique and best lenses for the job. At present I'm using Canon 1DS & 5D mkII bodies with 16-35mm, 24-70mm & 70-200mm 2.8 IS.

Subject is likely to be a plot of land or development in progress. Bearing in mind that I'm assuming a helicopter is the way to go rather than fixed wing and I may be able to get the pilot to go reasonably close, am I likely to need a longer lens, or is my longest lens adequate? Any gear to stabilize lens? Any other suggestions appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Cheers
Brian
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Luc Hosten
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« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2010, 08:02:50 AM »
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I have not done much aerial photography but last year was hired to photograph wave-ski paddling in storm surf from a helicopter. It is great fun - my biggest problem was my nerves and it is good to test the straps/seat belts before you go into the air. As helicopters are expensive and provide a great view it is important to make the most of the trip. Try to meet the helicopter at the airport and shoot as much as possible on the way to the site. Ensure that the door is removed and enjoy the experience.
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Steven Draper
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2010, 08:46:24 AM »
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Most of the points have been covered, remove the door or window if possible. (This may need prior approval from aviation authorities)

Mapping and survey work are specialist fields and I'd leave it to the dedicated companies; some obliques are relatively straight forward.

There are various issues such as airspace restrictions (you cannot just fly everywhere) and also how close you can get to your photo target, especially if within an urban area. Once you establish these then you can work out what size lens that you need to cover the angle.

Modern dslrs with high ISO capabilities and stabilized lens are of great help. With good morning light you should be OK without Gyro stabilization of the camera provided you remain steady and keep the camera out of any slipstreams. Saying that if you can find gyro stabilization then I'd use it, although practice first.

Brief the pilot well - possibly the day before of the flight is very early, explain where you want him to fly, where in flight you'll be taking the photos from and what he needs to do to keep the flight safe that may effect your desire to take photos. There are various piloting techniques / aeroplane configurations that can assist photographers.

Technically if there is a commercial implication to the flight - and images being produce with the specific aim of a marketing campaign whether you receive compensation or not,  may trigger this - the flight should be carried out under commercial flying rules with pilot and aircraft certification meeting specific requirements.

Keep it safe - if your not familiar with an airborne environment then let the pilot guide you through the does and do nots!

Steven
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image examples are at my website  stevendraperphotography.com   and Polepics is      "Here"
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