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Thread: Aerial photography - any tips?

  1. #1
    Master SternG's Avatar
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    Aerial photography - any tips?

    A friend of mine is an amateur pilot and member of a local flying club, and has offered a ride on one of their planes - an ICP Savannah Ultralight.

    Now there's some pretty impressive scenery around where I live, and I suspect it will look gorgeous from up in the air. I realise that capturing it might be tricky though, especially by someone who's never tried that sort of thing before.

    Weapons of choice are the usual suspects: Canon EOS bodies, one 17-55mm kit lens, EF-S 55-250mm and EF 70-200mm L telephotos. Access to more kit is possible 8)

    I'd appreciate any advice wrt technique - it'd be a pity if I didn't make the most of this opportunity.


    Cheers

    Stern

  2. #2
    Master
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    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    I've only done it on military aircraft and through thick plexiglass so can't offer any real tips other than to remember that even in Greece your hands could get quite cold depending on altitude and airspeed (consider using a pair of thin neoprene diving gloves - thermal insulation and good grip but your pilot will be able to advise whether they will be a help or a hindrance). I've been tempted to do something similar around here in an ultralight over Wiltshire so I'll be interested to hear how it goes!

  3. #3
    Master SternG's Avatar
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    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    Great idea about the gloves, I hadn't thought of that. AFAIK the Savannah has a little window on the passenger side, so I won't be shooting through the plexi.

    Quote Originally Posted by IANAN
    I've been tempted to do something similar around here in an ultralight over Wiltshire so I'll be interested to hear how it goes!
    I'll post some pics here as per usual 8)

  4. #4

    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    The trickiest thing is not getting reflections from the windows but there's little you can really do about that. If your lenses have direct manual focus override (e.g. Pentax Quick-Shift), you may need it so you don't end up focussing on the windows :wink: Also try to keep looking for shots as you don't always have long to frame them.

    I've used both a 16-50/2.8 and 50-135/2.8 and achieved some good results (plus a lot of bad results). Try to stick to to shutter speeds of 1/250 to 1/1000, depending on focal length. In general, the whole subject is quite distant so depth of field isn't much of an issue, but mine were mostly around f/3.5 to 5.6.

  5. #5

    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    Buy a cheap rubber lens hood, that way you push it against the glass and don't get a reflection.

  6. #6

    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    A circular polariser works well to cut down reflections through plexiglass. This was shot through plexiglass at f8 / 1/125

    http://www.dphotographer.co.uk/users...4/img_1790.jpg

  7. #7
    Master
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    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    I've asked my old unit if I can get up on a mixed sortie with a couple of cameras in the new year - with luck they'll agree (I'm owed a couple of favours by a some mates) and I'm hoping to get an air-to-air refuelling followed by low-level profile through some tactical training areas (and if my luck really holds, some NVG flying).

  8. #8
    Master
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    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    Use high-speed shutter and a 'fast' lens - go wide - and these are some I have taken - D700 24-70mm f2.8 - hope this helps

    The little white dots are birds - egret?




    And the vehicle we travelled in..

  9. #9
    Master SternG's Avatar
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    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    Great pics Martyn 8)

    The widest I can go is f/4 but I'm looking to remedy that.

  10. #10
    Master
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    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by SternG
    Great pics Martyn 8)

    The widest I can go is f/4 but I'm looking to remedy that.
    I actually meant shoot wide-angle, sorry and f8 should be fine

  11. #11
    Craftsman
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    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    "granny suck eggs" but go RAW. A bit of a faf after but good to salvage a rare opportunity. Have fun.

  12. #12
    Master
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    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    I'm no expert but I'd shoot faster than f8 to get the fastest possible shutter speed - I took these in New Zealand a couple of years ago and the biggest problem on most of the shots was vibration more than anything else:











    Also worth watching out for bits of the 'plane - unless you've got a 100% viewfinder it can be quite easy to end up with the wing, any struts etc in shot.

  13. #13
    Master SternG's Avatar
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    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    Thanks for your input, fellas. Beautiful images Seabadger, that must have been a hell of a ride.

    Unfortunately, we've had some horrible weather recently and the Savannah can't possibly cope - I'm hoping for a break in January.

  14. #14
    Master
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    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    Thanks S - it was excellent - we'd walked across the volcanoes in the first 4 pics the day before, and the flight itself was on my birthday, which for the first time ever was in the middle of summer rather than winter.

    All the best with the flight when it goes ahead :thumbup:

  15. #15
    Master Nalu's Avatar
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    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    I agree with Seabadger about shooting more open and using a faster speed - vibration has ruined more aerial shots of mine than anything else. I'll disagree partially with his 'plane parts' comment as sometimes having a bit of the plane in the photo adds to it in more ways than one. Don't get overly concerned with kit - you can get some good images with a digicam.
    A'stan, CH-47, Oly 5050




    A'stan, some sort of fixed wing - maybe a Fokker, Oly 5050


    Iraq, UH-60, Fuji S-9000 (?)


    'Stralia, commercial jet, Nikon D90

  16. #16
    Craftsman Richard.'s Avatar
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    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    Take the pilot's experience fully into consideration when making any requests. Plenty of inexperienced pilots have got into serious trouble when trying to be obliging with a low-level steep turn.

  17. #17
    Master SternG's Avatar
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    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard.
    Take the pilot's experience fully into consideration when making any requests. Plenty of inexperienced pilots have got into serious trouble when trying to be obliging with a low-level steep turn.

    :pale:

    I won't be making any requests - I'll just let him do his thing.

  18. #18
    Craftsman Richard.'s Avatar
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    Re: Aerial photography - any tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by SternG
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard.
    Take the pilot's experience fully into consideration when making any requests. Plenty of inexperienced pilots have got into serious trouble when trying to be obliging with a low-level steep turn.

    :pale:

    I won't be making any requests - I'll just let him do his thing.
    Good idea. As a breed pilots tend to be extroverts which can lead to all sorts of problems.

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