Almost everyone at some of point of time has received an email forward that contains aerial shots of vivid landscapes and stupendous water bodies. Photos that make you sigh in disbelief are the results of an aerial photographer’s efforts. Aerial photography is an art indeed! It requires oodles of both mental and physical toughness. Aerial photography is basically the taking of photographs from an elevation, mostly gained with the assistance of a helicopter or an airplane. Aerial shots offer a great and remarkable view of the lands we live on. Helicopters and high wing airplanes have helped carve out aerial photography into a reality. It takes grit, passion, and talent to become an efficient aerial photographer. Have you always wanted to become an aerial photographer? Chase your dreams down! Read on to know how to become a successful and much sought after aerial photographer.
Aerial Photography Tips
Choose Between Airplanes And Helicopters
For that perfect aerial shot, it’s important that you get your elevation in a machine that’s best suited for the task on hand. This is where you have to decide between airplanes and helicopters. While airplanes are easy to borrow from a friend or rent from a flying school, photographing from around a wing is not the brightest thing to do. Airplanes can’t fly lower than 1000 feet over crammed areas and 500 feet over any person or structure. Also, airplanes cannot fly as slowly as desired and cannot ‘hover’ over any particular spot. It is these disadvantages that make a helicopter seem more advantageous than an airplane. With a helicopter, you can fly high in the skies with a door removed and can also enjoy the liberty to take shots like you would in most other situations. A helicopter, unlike an airplane, can be flown at almost any altitude, but only given the fact that there is no physical obstruction in its flight. A helicopter can be flown extremely slowly and is capable of hovering around a particular spot. This makes it that much easier for an aerial photographer to do his/her job. However, this does not mean you cannot use airplanes for aerial photography. A High-wing Cessna is your safest option when it comes to choosing an airplane. The Cessna is ideal for flying at low speeds and even has windows that open.
The Time Of Day
As an aerial photographer, you have got to be prudent enough to know when exactly to fly up to take your photographs. Although the earth, technically speaking, is shaped like a globe, in reality it is quite flat. This explains why aerial photographs taken under midday conditions tend to look extremely flat. This gives you only two times of the day to fly up to the skies for a perfect photograph. You’ve either got to take your shot during the first hour of the day or during the last hour of the day. This is when the sun’s angle is at its best for a photographer and will also help accentuate the physical variables in your photographs.
Take Delight In Digital
A high-end digital camera with a large-capacity memory card is the way to go when up in the air. Remember, when you’ve gained altitude, you will be capturing an image almost every second, so it is that much more important to have a good digital camera as opposed to a camera with film. A digital camera even offers you the advantageous option of previewing your snaps. The fact that you can take a shot and look at the outcome right away is definitely a technological boon. When using a digital camera, set the optional file format to ‘RAW’, which will help you fine-tune your images once you get the same onto a computer.
It’s All About The Lenses
As per the norms of aerial photography, if you’re asked to photograph a house located on a quarter-acre plot with a small-sensor digital camera, you will have to use a 70mm lens from a helicopter and a 225mm lens from an airplane. This may vary depending on the size of the location to be photographed. Also, in order to get that perfect wide-angle shot, you will have to pick a lens with a wide-angle focal length ranging from anywhere between 16mm to 28mm.
When you are flying at any given speed, your photographs are mostly going to face the brunt of what is known as a ‘motion blur’. However, getting rid of a motion-blur is simple. All you’ve got to do is take into consideration certain factors that will have a role to play in the outcome of your photographs. Generally speaking, the faster the shutter-speed, the better it is for your photographs. So select a camera with a high shutter-speed. The speed of your ‘flying object’ matters here, the slower it is the better. Turn on your in-lens image stabilization. This helps reduce or cancel out the effects of vibration. A high ISO setting boosts shutter speed, which is required for perfect photographs in areas that receive less sunshine. You can use gyro mounts for best results. Also, hold your camera firmly; shivering and clumsy hands are not the mark of a good photographer. If you’re on a plane or a helicopter, maintain communication with your pilot. It’s important for the pilot to know how and when to support you by flying at a particular speed and at a particular altitude. Also, take a lot of shots of your subject, you can never tell, one of them may be as good as it gets. Get creative too, all these elements add up to the perfect photograph.