Tips for successful aerial photography
For decades, photography has been a traditional way of life for most of us. It has been used to tell stories and even capturing the world in a new perspective.
The most common and accessible way of taking photographs using your camera is from the ground, an elevation such as a hill or better yet a raised structure.
The most incredible photographs are usually those taken from the air, aerial photography is considered an important artistic skill that one can master for the best photo shots.
Besides offering incredible locations that can only be photographed from the air, aerial photography can also give you a wide panoramic view of the wide sky.
Sitting on a light plane or a helicopter, you are able to look sideways and have an 180-degree stretch of the horizon, so you should be able to see very interesting features all around you.
In spite of this, taking great aerial videos or photographs requires more techniques than the usual ground photography. Below are some of the things you need to know for a successful aerial photography.
Your shooting environment
Before you embark on your journey up the skies for a photography session, you should be aware of the weather conditions.
Ensure there is ambient light; this refers to the natural light that is readily available on the scene and doesn’t require the photographer to supply it.
Shooting with only ambient light helps to preserve the atmosphere of the scene and hence many photographers enjoy this.
In fact, the best time of the day to fly and take aerial photography is the first or last hour of the day, at these hours, the sun’s angle produces shadows that can help viewers to understand the shapes of various features on the picture.
Achieve half the success of your photography session starts with a proper planning on the ground. The first decision you need to make that would influence the success of your photography session will greatly depend on the type of aircraft you will choose.
If the scenes you want to shoot will be in a rural setting, then you may opt to shoot from a fixed wing aircraft like a Cessna 152, which can cover more ground.
If in an urban setting, then the best aircraft to go for is a helicopter. It is important to note that most of the time, shooting from a helicopter gives good shots.
It is important to check your tour’s website for other people’s reviews before booking a flight or tour, this will give you an insight of the scene and if it is worth flying to for a photography shoot.
During an aerial photography, avoid taking photographs through an unopened window, they are made of Plexiglas and even when they are polished and perfectly clean, they may still create reflections that you may not see in the air.
It isn’t only enough to get the pilot fly the airplane on a stable bank over the target for a shot, which most pilots are typically trained to do.
You should be able to establish your form of communication with the pilot because you will need him to fly actively, constantly banking, yawing and pitching the aircraft. This will ultimately give you a vantage point and be able to accommodate your clear shooting window.
Arrive at the fixed based on operation (FBO) early
One of the important preflight items is arriving at the Fixed Based of Operation (FBO) at the airport at least 30 minutes early. This will give you time to be with the pilot and discuss your photography plan and hence get on the same page with him or her just before taking off.
Not all pilots have been involved in an aerial photography before, so they may need to understand ahead of time the uniqueness of your mission.
Have a 15-minute chat with the pilot while you sit on the left seat of the airplane on the ground, so you can also simulate how you will be working your camera.
Bring the right assortment of lenses
In attempting to capture the experience of aerial photography, it is important to use a camera which is recommended for you to get the best shots every time.
Cameras with zoom lenses are necessary, whether taking aerial photography or shooting aerial videos.
Besides zoom lenses, use the fastest shutter speed as this is the biggest contributor to your photo sharpness.