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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk
Thread started 17 Nov 2006 (Friday) 11:31
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aerial photography - how to shoot?

 
mudgee ­ mark
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Nov 17, 2006 11:31 |  #1

I have been asked to take some photo's of a property around my region (west NSW, Australia) from a helicopter. The property is about 8,500 acres (about 3,400 hectares) in size. I would like some help with camera settings/set up for best quality for enlargements, time of day for best results, maximum height before compromise of image, and any other advice.
I'm an aerial photography virgin and require assistance from anyone experienced in this type of area.

I own a canon 20d with efs 17-85 and an ef 70-200 1.4 l usm.

Thanks




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Choderboy
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Sydney, Australia
Nov 17, 2006 19:43 |  #2

Through the window or will you have an opening to shoot through?
I went up in an R44. (Robin I think?) Shooting through the "bubble " windscreen.
These are the mistakes I made:
Did not have a polariser filter. Would have been a huge help with the reflections off the windscreen.
Did not prefocus to infinity (or close to) so the AF got confused a few times by objects inside the cockpit or the windscreen. (advanced point and shoot , better on a DSLR , but wide shots could still cause AF to lock on inside the cockpit)

So shooting through the glass / perspex or shooting through an open window makes a big difference.
Take a lot of shots. (I did do that :) )
Keep shutter speed fairly high due to vibration and movement of the chopper.
I'd just take the kit lens. Youll probably be able to use F11 even with a polariser and keep high shutter speed and the kit lens performs well stopped down.
Think about time of days and shadows.
Don't forget to try for a cool shadow shot of the chopper :)


Dave
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rhys
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Nov 17, 2006 20:05 |  #3

Shooting through glass reduces IQ.

I used a 35mm compact camera when I went up and got some really great photos.


Rhys

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goforphoto
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Nov 17, 2006 20:17 |  #4

most important thing to remember is "DON'T DROP THE CAMERA"


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embdude
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Nov 17, 2006 20:32 as a reply to goforphoto's post |  #5

I have been shooting from airplanes since 1988, Some general advise...

1. Don't shoot through the aircraft windows. Open them, remove them or the door, or use a plane with special cutouts for photography.

Nowdays I fly in mostly airliners, and am forced to shoot through the windows. I have a hell of a time trying to get things right in post process. Dave's advice sure helped, but it is only a band-aid when often surgery will be required, Save yourself the trouble and dont shoot through the windows!

2. The more vertical the shot, the less the haze. This works great for surveying and real-estate type shots but wont for others...

3. Haze is reflected glare from air particles from sunlight. This reflection is different depending on the angle of the sun to you, it will change with the time of day, location of the particles, and your altitude. No haze at night! Not much arial photography either!!!


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ssim
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Nov 17, 2006 20:59 as a reply to embdude's post |  #6

If you are being paid to do this or the customer has expectations of a professional job, never, I repeat never, shoot through the windows. You might get lucky and have a nice clean window with no patterning in it. You might also run into some older plexiglass which tends to get some patterning in it and can reduce the quality of your shots.

Rather than type what I have in the past, here are links to a couple of posts that I have done in the past.

Link 1

Link 2


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jcw122
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Nov 17, 2006 22:29 |  #7

Don't fall out :D


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roundy
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Nov 17, 2006 22:46 |  #8

Don't use a lens hood if you're shooting through an open door/window. There's a good chance you'll lose the hood.

Using a polarizer and shooting through the windscreen may cause some problems is the windscreen has any polarizing properties.

Use as high a shutter speed as possible and a mid-range f-stop.

Take a jacket because it can get cold in an open cockpit.

Try to get a pilot that has done this before and make sure he/she knows what you want.

Ear protection is essential.

Be organized.

Altitude depends on what you want to include in the photo.




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NicolasRubio
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Nov 17, 2006 23:29 |  #9

Well besides from what the guys here already said, I'll give you some technical aviation suggestions... If you are going to fly in a Robinson R-44, remove your door and the opposite door from the other row because that is the only way that an R-44 can fly, obviously within the legal limitations...


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saravrose
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Nov 18, 2006 00:49 |  #10

oh it's fun! I took some photos from an airplane... and a helicopter would have been much easier.. here are my suggestions. Lose the hood, keep the shutter up, don't try to wear your glasses or hat, be prepared to get cold.. and take the time to compose.. realize that once you're up there it's a bit tricky to talk to the pilot or anyone else with you, especially with the windows open... It is loud!!.. keep your cards in your pocket, much easier than trying to get in your bag...

sari


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Jon
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Nov 18, 2006 11:39 |  #11

High shutter speed to counter vibrations. Don't, as everyone's saying, shoot through the window, especially with a polarizer. Shoot RAW so you can PP to compensate for haze. Watch your sun angle - into the sun and haze effect gets worse; back to the sun and you need to keep your eye out for the a/c shadow, plus you'll lose shadows which help give the place some relief. Stat with an empty, large card so you don't need to stop and change part-way through. Figure out in advance which lens you'll want to use so you don't need to keep changing lenses. Flight time, especially in helicopters, isn't cheap.

Best time - what is the purpose of the photos? Photogrammetry and aerial maping photo missions usually go between 10 AM and 3 PM so there's minimum shadows hiding details. Early and you'll have to worry about ground fog, depending on the area, but the longer shadows can look quite striking if that's the desired purpose.


Jon
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PhotosGuy
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Nov 18, 2006 12:31 |  #12

All that, + search is your friend?
Shooting landscapes from a heli - what would you bring?
http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.php?t=208602


FrankC - 20D, RAW, Manual everything...
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rhys
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Nov 18, 2006 12:59 |  #13

One chap I came across did all his own aerial photography using a 5D and a radio-controlled helicopter. He could get up to about 300 feet altitude and combined with a wide-angled lens got some excellent shots. Apparently that was his main business.


Rhys

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jimd118
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Apr 17, 2008 11:46 as a reply to rhys's post |  #14

Figured I would throw my two cents in. I am a Commercial Pilot and have my own Photography business which aerial photography is part of. I do a lot of shooting from different aircraft and fly a lot of other photographers for shoots. Here are some things for everyone to consider.

-First off one of the cheapest rentals and most effective for shooting is the good ol Cessna 172 or similar aircraft. These typically rent for under $100 an hour plus whatever the pilot charges. The windows in the front seats are a typical swing type however I have flown with many guys that have done aerial stuff for awhile and have never realised you are not restricted by the 30 degree swing. The arm that is connected to the door from the window has one little screw in it and if you take it out the window will swing freely up all the way to the wing. Once in flight simply hold onto the window as you open it and if you are above 75Kts or so the airflow will keep the window open and you have a nice sized area to lean out and manuever to shoot.

-Second, if you change lenses while flying make sure that you feel the lens snap in securely. If you are new to flying you will probably be nervous and the noise and vibration will distract you from the simplest things. If the lens is not locked on there is a good chance while leaning out the window the vibration will slowly loosen it until it falls off. A guy I fly for aerial stuff told me a story about the first time he did it and he was nervouse and shaking a bit and did not latch the lens on Securely. Well as he was hanging out the window he felt a strange shift in the camera and his view through the camera changed. Down went a 75-300 lens from 5,000 feet. Not only does this suck loosing expensive gear but a lens from an altittude like that would most likely be fatal if it hit someone.

-Third, It can be a pain but wait until you have the perfect day. Mornings work pretty good, you have a nice combination of sunlight, clear sky, and smooth air so you can shoot at better speeds. With this said dont go to early because the sun will make long shadows that take away from what your shooting.

-Lastly be safe. Dont trust just any pilot or airplane. Typically you are in good hands if it is a business because they must ensure their pilots are trained properly and the aircraft if used for hire must undergo annuel and 100hr inspections. However when you fly with a private pilot that owns his own airplane you should make sure first off he is trained properly and has recent flight experience and his aircraft is up to par. Many private airports are filled with aircraft that havnt seen a mechanic in a very long time. SO BE CAREFULL if some guy is going to give you a deal compared to an actual company it may not be worth the money saved.

Hope this helps

Thanks,

Jim Davis
J M Davis Web and Imaging Services
www.jmdavisstudios.comexternal link




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