Aerial photography, a widely popular technique for photographing landscapes, provides a bird’s eye view of the sprawling scenery. While the photographs are aesthetic to look at, the photographers get only a few moments in the sky to capture them perfectly.
The trial and error method is considered the best way to learn and develop a photographer’s style. But in the case of aerial photography, one needs to use those precious moments in the air as efficiently as possible. This requires some preparations and precautions.
What are the preparations needed before the flight?
Knowing the region to be photographed:
Detailed research of their flight area should allow the photographer to pinpoint which scenes and landmarks they wish to capture from the sky. Other photographers and photographs of the region should be consulted for inspiration. This helps in communicating with the pilot for the best views.
A flexible flight schedule helps to maneuver around any weather complications. Especially in the mountains, weather changes rapidly, so checking the weather forecast before take-off is of utmost importance.
The ideal time for photography:
The direction of the sun’s rays changes with the time of the day, so it is essential to know when the photographer will get the best light to photograph the region of their interest.
The space inside a helicopter is quite cramped, where a photographer gets limited time to fix and change their apparatus as required. Keeping these constraints in mind, the photographer should limit their equipment to two sets of camera bodies and lenses of their desire. Extra memory cards and batteries should be kept at hand. It is best to ditch the lens hood as it may hinder movement or damage the aircraft if it falls.
Bulky clothing will restrict the photographer’s movements and the numerous safety buckles, straps, and headsets required to be worn in a flight. Fitting clothes with easily accessible pockets are ideal for reaching for batteries and memory cards. However, dressing for warmth is important for high-altitude temperatures.
Some pro-tips for photographing scenes from the sky:
Ideal camera settings:
Factors like high shutter speed, increased ISO, and increased aperture size is required to balance Aerial Photography exposure. Since the flight is moving very fast, these settings help capture the perfect scene in focus with the necessary customizations by the photographer.
Shooting in raw format:
JPEG image files often compress the size but using the RAW format maximizes the clarity of the image. Post-production editing becomes easier with the Raw format since the photos have more megapixels.
Minimizing window reflection:
The plexiglass windows of the aircraft may cause glares while photographing. By keeping the front lens element parallel to the window, these glares can be minimized. Dark clothing will also allow the photographer to avoid reflection from themselves to appear in the image.
Shooting in all orientations:
If the scenes are photographed in both portrait and landscape orientations, the photographer will have various images in their collection. The diverse composition will increase the appeal of the subject of photography.
Shooting the interior:
The photographer should remember to shoot the interior of the flight, too. This captures the entire exhilarating experience of aerial shooting.
Photographers opting for a doors-off shooting should secure their camera to the body to avoid any mishaps. Aerial photography is truly an exciting adventure, but safety protocols and the pilot’s instructions should be followed for a safe and fulfilling experience.