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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Transportation Talk 
Thread started 22 Nov 2016 (Tuesday) 18:57
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Air to Air

 
s1a1om
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Nov 22, 2016 18:57 |  #1

I can't get the idea of trying air-to-air out of my head. I'm thinking that in the spring I may try renting a helicopter (or a J-3 depending on the subject) to give it a shot. Does anyone have anything they suggest reading/doing over the winter to prepare, other than finding 2 willing and able pilots?

Or would anyone around Connecticut be interested in splitting the cost of a larger helicopter (R44 vs. R22) as a photo platform? It would end up being cheaper for both parties.

I have a few ideas for planes in the local area that would make fun subjects. I'll probably start trying to contact their owners in February.


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Nov 22, 2016 20:43 |  #2

You're going to have to remove the door from the helicopter. Here are some links: Air-to-Air Photos

Air to Air Beginner


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Capn ­ Jack
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Post edited over 1 year ago by Capn Jack.
     
Nov 22, 2016 20:47 |  #3

How much do your "local pilots" know about formation flying? Your pilot should know something about formation flying too.

Here's an article describing some of how AOPA gets air-to-air shots: https://www.aopa.org …/2016/may/pilot​/waypoints (external link)
Also see:
https://www.bhphotovid​eo.com …a/canon/artist/​paul-bowen (external link)
http://flyglobalnow.co​m …tographer-jessica-ambats/ (external link)




  
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s1a1om
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Post edited over 1 year ago by s1a1om. (5 edits in all)
     
Nov 23, 2016 04:54 |  #4

PhotosGuy wrote in post #18192125 (external link)
You're going to have to remove the door from the helicopter. Here are some links: Air-to-Air Photos

Air to Air Beginner

Removing the door is why I'm planning on waiting for spring.

Thanks for that Air to Air beginner thread. Lots of good info there. I don't know why I didn't find it on my search through this forum.

Capn Jack wrote in post #18192127 (external link)
How much do your "local pilots" know about formation flying? Your pilot should know something about formation flying too.

I'm not sure why you felt the need to put "local pilots" in quotes. However, as you insinuated, they do have varied flight experience. One aircraft that is a possibility albeit very remote is flown primarily by ex-military guys. There are also people around here that do the annual Bonanza/Mooney/RV to Oshkosh trip and have experience from that. Then there are 50 hour sport pilots renting from a local flight school (probably not the ones flying the aircraft I'd like to photograph).

On the other-hand, as noted in this article on the Air & Space Magazine site (http://www.airspacemag​.com …ointer-and-shooter-4848/) (external link), many air to air shoots are done with less experienced pilots in the subject aircraft. Yes, it does require a more thorough preflight briefing and some extra precautions while flying. Some preliminary calculations showed me that at a focal length of 200mm, I'd be looking for the subject aircraft to be approximately 225 feet away (assuming ~25' wingspan, which is pretty reasonable for SEL GA aircraft). Based on my experience flying in groups with friends, that's easily achievable, and is in fact pretty extreme, even for less experienced pilots. With less experienced pilots you wouldn't be doing the close-up, wide-angle shots that Paul Bowen does @ ~24mm, but I think there should be a happy medium where everyone is comfortable and safe executing the mission.
_______________

As for lighting, it seems like a lot of the photos I've seen online are lit with the sun shining on the propeller's axis of rotation. This seems to be better for getting the blurred prop disk to actually show, but usually seems to end up with a shadow down the aft part of the fuselage, where it starts tapering towards the tail. It does seem to usually leave the pilot's faces lit a bit better.

Others are lit from over the photographer's shoulder. This seems to leave the prop disk a bit more invisible, but has smoother lighting down the entire length of the fuselage.

Then there's the silouette shots with the aircraft backlit with the setting sun, not really what I'd like to try for my first attempt.

Is there anything I'm missing in my thoughts on the direction of the sun?


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WaterBoy2090
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Nov 26, 2016 04:19 |  #5

Moose Peterson just did a guide to aerial photography which might help, especially with regard to lighting.

https://youtu.be/s3T59​lHrQuE (external link)

As he mentions getting pilots & aircraft owners to part with their time & money for air to air shots will be an issue, especially as what your proposing requires formation flying endorsements to be held by all the pilots involved.

Getting qualified pilots to fly formation with strangers will be an issue too, as this type of flying requires a lot of trust & mutual understanding.


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Capn ­ Jack
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Nov 26, 2016 06:08 as a reply to  @ s1a1om's post |  #6

I merely typed "local pilots" in quotes to indicate the phrasing you used.

The Air & Space magazine citation gave a "page not found" error; perhaps the link is missing some information?

Even at 225 feet away, that is still close by aviation standards. If a high-wing aircraft is below your photo platform, there are some angles where he can't see you. Likewise for a low-wing aircraft; and a biplane has multiple blind areas. Also remember the helicopter you are in and the plane being photographed are likely dissimilar in performance and maneuverability.

It seems you have the lighting planned, just try to avoid having the pilot being photographed looking into the sun where he is unable to see the photo platform.




  
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s1a1om
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Nov 26, 2016 06:44 |  #7

WaterBoy2090 wrote in post #18194883 (external link)
Moose Peterson just did a guide to aerial photography which might help, especially with regard to lighting.

https://youtu.be/s3T59​lHrQuE (external link)

Thanks for the link

WaterBoy2090 wrote in post #18194883 (external link)
As he mentions getting pilots & aircraft owners to part with their time & money for air to air shots will be an issue, especially as what your proposing requires formation flying endorsements to be held by all the pilots involved.

Getting qualified pilots to fly formation with strangers will be an issue too, as this type of flying requires a lot of trust & mutual understanding.

From my experience, many pilots/owners look for pretty much any reason to go flying, even the famed $100 hamburger. I didn't think it would be difficult to find a subject aircraft, however, it may end up being harder to get a subject pilot than I expect.

Please note, that at least in the US there is no requirement for a "formation flying endorsement". Some groups (I believe both Bonanzas and Mooneys to Oshkosh) require that you have a sign off from one of the groups that does training in formation flying. However it is not an FAA mandated endorsement like tailwheel, high performance, or complex.

Capn Jack wrote in post #18194903 (external link)
I merely typed "local pilots" in quotes to indicate the phrasing you used.

My apologies. I took that as disparaging private pilots as opposed to military pilots or commercial pilots flying heavy iron.

Capn Jack wrote in post #18194903 (external link)
The Air & Space magazine citation gave a "page not found" error; perhaps the link is missing some information?

Even at 225 feet away, that is still close by aviation standards. If a high-wing aircraft is below your photo platform, there are some angles where he can't see you. Likewise for a low-wing aircraft; and a biplane has multiple blind areas. Also remember the helicopter you are in and the plane being photographed are likely dissimilar in performance and maneuverability.

It seems you have the lighting planned, just try to avoid having the pilot being photographed looking into the sun where he is unable to see the photo platform.

Sorry about the bad link. Perhaps this one will work better? http://www.airspacemag​.com …pointer-and-shooter-4848/ (external link)

That's a good point to consider blind spots on high wing/low wing aircraft when planning the shoot. Thanks.

As for flying dissimilar aircraft, that is definitely a concern. The R22 cruise speed is reported at 96kts, however, even something like a 172 cruises at 105kts. That means that pretty much any subject plane will have to be flying slowly to avoid leaving us in the dust.


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Capn ­ Jack
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Nov 26, 2016 09:18 |  #8

s1a1om wrote in post #18194913 (external link)
Thanks for the link

<SNIP>

As for flying dissimilar aircraft, that is definitely a concern. The R22 cruise speed is reported at 96kts, however, even something like a 172 cruises at 105kts. That means that pretty much any subject plane will have to be flying slowly to avoid leaving us in the dust.

I'm pretty sure the R22 can fly a little faster, burning a bit more gas. I know the C172 can fly slower level flight without flaps; IFR approaches are done at 90 knots in a 172; that speed matches one of those listed on approach plates.




  
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WaterBoy2090
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Nov 26, 2016 16:31 |  #9

s1a1om wrote in post #18194913 (external link)
Please note, that at least in the US there is no requirement for a "formation flying endorsement". Some groups (I believe both Bonanzas and Mooneys to Oshkosh) require that you have a sign off from one of the groups that does training in formation flying. However it is not an FAA mandated endorsement like tailwheel, high performance, or complex.


:eek: All the more reason to choose your pilots carefully!

Personally I'd be looking at a platform other than a helicopter; there's a lot less vibration in a fixed wing aircraft, which will help if using slow shutter speeds.


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