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Author Topic: Helicopter recommendations  (Read 6091 times)
fredjeang
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« on: September 22, 2010, 05:48:46 AM »
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Hi,

I'm looking for advices about the very special task of working from an helicopter.
Any field experience, tricks etc... welcome

Thanks to all.
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Chris Sanderson
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« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2010, 07:53:05 AM »
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Much depends on your subject and your aircraft - but some pointers:

- Hire the most photo/film savvy pilot you can afford. He or she will be more in control of the framing of the subject than you are. Hire one who has experience, knows focal lengths and fully understands what vibration & chop will do to your shots. Pre-briefing and pre-visualization are essential.

- speaking of vibration: unless you can afford to rent a dedicated $$$ camera mount, the most effective way of dampening the camera is to shoot through an open door with the camera suspended from surgical tubing with you strapped in (perhaps 'tethered' is a better word) hand-holding the camera just inside the 'wash'.
 
- LiveView will likely be more effective than trying any TTL viewfinder since contact with your face is contact with the aircraft frame & will simply add more vibration.

- Don't forget your polarizers  Smiley
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Christopher Sanderson
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fredjeang
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« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2010, 04:21:37 PM »
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Thanks very much Chris.
I will have an oportunity to do a first experience probably this Christmas, cross fingers.
Vibrations might be heavier than a small plane I guess.
I wonder if a small steadycam belt would work fine. Rental/day is affordable.

Cheers.
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Chris Sanderson
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2010, 02:10:09 PM »
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I think (but do not know) that the high-frequency vibrations of a helicopter will still transmit through a SteadyCam rig which is more designed to smooth out low-frequency human movement. The surgical tubing method of  dampening has been pretty widely used.
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Christopher Sanderson
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fredjeang
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« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2010, 04:14:53 PM »
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That makes sense. Thanks again.

A link for those who like heliphotography:http://www.yannarthusbertrand.org/v2/yab_us.htm
the web is a bit messy but images are beautifull.

cheers.
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kikashi
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« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2010, 04:58:28 PM »
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That makes sense. Thanks again.

A link for those who like heliphotography:http://www.yannarthusbertrand.org/v2/yab_us.htm
the web is a bit messy but images are beautifull.

cheers.
"a bit messy"? You're a very kind man, Fred. However, I agree that there are some lovely pictures. Vivaldi makes a pleasant change from pop/rock music, as well.

Jeremy
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Steve Weldon
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« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2010, 10:52:40 PM »
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1.  Remove the doors.  Both sides.

2.  Wear a harness. 

3.  Makes sure the harness is secured to an anchor point.  (check this yourself)

4.  Wear very stick shoes.

5.  If you get motion sickness, take meds a few hours before the flight.

6.  ALL gear should have a lanyard attached and be secured to anchor points.

7.  Canon IS and Nikon VR mechanisms work.. but you'll get much better results using a KenLabs gyro in addition to the IS/VR.. though me sure to look closely at some first test shots.  The two can fight with each other a bit if in the wrong modes.

8.  Soft rubber eyecups will keep your eye socket from taking abuse.  At least most of it.  Fortunately Hoodman just came out with some nice enough ones for Canon, though not as good as the optional Nikon models.

9.  If you're subject is closer to the ground, within 200 feet.. consider a construction crane vs. a helicopter.  A bit more hairy, but ultimately more safe.  Someone on this board made the most effective use of this platform I've ever seen.  A brave man!
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Camdavidson
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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2010, 09:50:33 AM »
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I shoot primarily aerials.

The best way to approach first time aerials is to fly with a high-time pilot in a turbine helicopter who knows how to fly for photography.

It is very different than flying with an instructor in a gas-powered ship like a Robinson R-22 or Schweitzer 300.

Use a Ken-lab Gyro.  Kenyon Labs.  They rent them as do many rental houses.

I wrote a piece on first time aerials in 2004 for SportShooter.  The url is:  http://www.sportsshooter.com/news/1214

There is one-type in the piece about CFII Instructors - otherwise the piece is accurate.  I've shot aerials for thirty years for a wide variety of national and international clients.  I am also a pilot.  Start with that article.  It should help you get a grounding on what is needed and the safest approach.

Remember - the pilot is Pilot-In-Command.  If they say no, it means no.  BUT, if your gut tells you someone is too cocky or not experienced, do not fly with them.

Good luck and fly safe.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2010, 02:13:20 PM by Camdavidson » Logged
fredjeang
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« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2010, 10:19:51 AM »
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Very usefull link! Beautifull shots. Kept in favotites.
It should be Alouette III with turbine engine.

Thanks very much to all for the repplies.

Cheers.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2010, 10:23:18 AM by fredjeang » Logged
Dennis Carbo
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« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2010, 07:39:21 AM »
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Hi All,

I shoot Aerials a couple times a month and in my experience  Nikon and Canon VR is useless when shooting aerials, rent a Kenlabs Gyro and you will get clean, clear shots.

I use the KS-6 for my DSLR and Rollei 6008i  for a heavier camera rig use a KS-8.  I have also found if you use a gyro ...turn off the VR on the lens if you have it (I am a nikon shooter...on a tripod they recommend turning off VR) . 
Just curious why a copter ?  if you are shooting static targets 90% of the time a fixed wing aircraft is perfect and cost MUCH less to rent (About 1/4 the cost in my area). 

Either way try to isolate your body as much as possible from the airframe - in other words..dont lean on the window or door frame when shooting.

I have shot crisp shots at 1/250th but try to stay above 1/500th if you can especially with longer lenses

Shoot at lowest ISO you can for better dynamic range (white buildings blow out very easily)

If using Manual focus lens test it on ground to find infinity...it usually is not against the stop...when u find it tape the focus ring firmly in place

Good luck !

Regards,

Dennis
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Rob C
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« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2010, 08:26:48 AM »
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Yann Arthus-Bertrand created an international career for himself using Canon and Pentax 645 and Velvia; his flying views of the world have made him a comfortable man...

Rob C
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fredjeang
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« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2010, 01:29:21 PM »
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Yann Arthus-Bertrand created an international career for himself using Canon and Pentax 645 and Velvia; his flying views of the world have made him a comfortable man...

Rob C
Yes, he stayed with Canon digital. He is completly involved (to the extreme really) on planet care and has now social influence. Completly the opposite of Mario Testino, wich work is actually exhibit at the Thyssen museum here.

I thing that Y.A.B is flying a lot with russian helicopters, they are cheaper, robusts and known to be good pilots.
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David Grover / Phase One
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« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2010, 08:21:23 AM »
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+1 on the kenlab gyro.  I have seen really impressive results with these at low shutter speeds.
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BrendanStewart
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« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2010, 09:34:00 AM »
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+1 on the kenlab gyro.  I have seen really impressive results with these at low shutter speeds.

Agreed. I've done quite a bit of hand-held shooting from helicopters.  Robinson R44's are really stable platforms to shoot from, and are typically cheaper because they run on petrol and not jet fuel for turbine engines.  They are a lot smoother than you expect the first time.

Do not rent huey's or anything military related. They are no designed for comfort.  The kenyon RS8 i think, is the best middle model, it mounts well and is hand-holdable for mediocre periods of time.

Enjoy it, it's a blast!
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Camdavidson
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« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2010, 03:05:08 PM »
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Shameless self-promotion plug.

For those interested in aerials of New York City - I just published via iTunes my first iPad app:  Aerial New York City

http://www.tinyurl.com/ipadnyc

All low and slow aerials of the city shot from turbine helicopters and a few from a Hughes 269/Schweitzer 300.

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fredjeang
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« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2010, 04:39:04 PM »
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Agreed. I've done quite a bit of hand-held shooting from helicopters.  Robinson R44's are really stable platforms to shoot from, and are typically cheaper because they run on petrol and not jet fuel for turbine engines.  They are a lot smoother than you expect the first time.

Do not rent huey's or anything military related. They are no designed for comfort.  The kenyon RS8 i think, is the best middle model, it mounts well and is hand-holdable for mediocre periods of time.

Enjoy it, it's a blast!
True! I was thinking about the Robinson also, it's true that it's a lot cheaper. I didn't know it was actually more stable, I thought in fact the opposite.
What about the petrol Bell 47 too? There are some units in circulation I think.

Cameron, great pictures! Enjoyed a lot your website.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 04:45:18 PM by fredjeang » Logged
BrendanStewart
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« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2010, 06:34:17 PM »
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Great stuff Cam!

What body are you using for a lot of these dusk shots?

Well on the helicopter front... i guess it's subjective. The R44 is quite stable for us. I've been in a Eurocopter AS350, that's fairly stable. But expensive as hell to rent. We don't have too many options here in Boston.

We do have a UH-1A available pretty soon. Smiley Just in case you want to rumble around a cockpit for bit.
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Camdavidson
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« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2010, 08:49:03 PM »
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I shoot with Nikon D3s/x.  (In the past, I did shoot with a Canon 1Ds II/III, but switched back to Nikon in 09)

Also shoot with an Alpa/47/Aptus combo.  Sometimes I shoot with an H series Hassy.

Glad you like the images.  The R44 is a fine ship in the right hands,  It is a good helicopter for many aerial situations - the key, as always, is the pilot and their experience with aerials.

The ship I prefer is a Hughes/MD 500 or an A-Star/TwinStar.  I've flown in 34 different types of helicopters over the years, so I can give an opinion of most of them, but it really boils down to the pilot and their ability to fly safely and in control.

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BrendanStewart
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« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2010, 10:39:23 PM »
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I shoot with Nikon D3s/x.  (In the past, I did shoot with a Canon 1Ds II/III, but switched back to Nikon in 09)

Also shoot with an Alpa/47/Aptus combo.  Sometimes I shoot with an H series Hassy.

Glad you like the images.  The R44 is a fine ship in the right hands,  It is a good helicopter for many aerial situations - the key, as always, is the pilot and their experience with aerials.

The ship I prefer is a Hughes/MD 500 or an A-Star/TwinStar.  I've flown in 34 different types of helicopters over the years, so I can give an opinion of most of them, but it really boils down to the pilot and their ability to fly safely and in control.


I've always wanted to fly in an MD500. Do you have someone reliable in NYC that flies one?
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BrendanStewart
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« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2010, 11:48:06 PM »
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This is a shot in the dark - but has anyone ever done any photography in Dubai via helicopter? If so, any recommendations, time of day, best company to deal with. Restrictions with doors off, etc?
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