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Aerial Photography Information
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There are many ways of doing aerial photography. Airplanes, helicopters, balloons, kites as well as radio controlled aircraft provide many options to do aerial photography. Each has its positives and negatives, depending upon your budget, the weather conditions and the data required.
Aerial photography is done for various purposes. It involves a lot more than shooting from an elevation and can look ordinary if shot without any artistic or creative input. More and more people want to showcase their products through aerial photography. It could be a resort selling its amenities or a developer selling a residential apartment or an upcoming shopping center. An aerial photographer's job is to capture the subject in a way that it illustrates the features of a product through effective imagery; as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
If you are starting out with aerial photography, you should have the basic understanding and knowledge of taking photographs with an SLR camera. There are other factors that need to be taken into account. Foremost is the type of aircraft that you are going to use. Is it going to be a helicopter or a small plane? It is easier to take aerial shots with a helicopter as they can be easily navigated to get that perfect composition; however, it can be expensive to hire a helicopter. The hourly rate for helicopters is expensive and they may not be available in every location. Although, aerial photography using helicopters can be easier, not every helicopter can hover in the air, unless it is a dual engine helicopter. Too many mishaps have been reported when trying to hover with a single engine helicopter.
Benefits of using an Airplane: Shooting from airplanes can be cheaper as compared to shooting with a helicopter. The best airplanes to use are the Cessna's 175 or 152 for aerial shoots at an oblique angle. They are affordable and easily available. The other benefit of using a Cessna is that the pin from the plane's window can be removed, allowing the window to be in a full up position for a clear view. Also, the wind helps keep the window open fully while shooting. The other key benefit is that if the engine causes trouble, the plane can glide down to a safe landing.
The important pre-flight step is to discuss your plan with the pilot, so that you are on the same page when airborne. Explain to the pilot that you'll be sitting in the left seat because it is easier to turn left with the camera than to the right. It is important to explain to the pilot the angles you'll be shooting from, so that they can form a clear mental picture. It is the pilot who will be having the control for placing the airplane at the correct angle to get that perfect shot. Also, it is necessary to establish signals you will be using to communicate with the pilot, while leaning out of the window.
The best shots are those that have a horizon in the view. For this, the plane will need to fly at a low altitude that clearly keeps the horizon in view. Effective communication becomes even more important as the wing will come in the way of the view and you will want the pilot to lift the wing at the right moment. So the moment you see the shot angle approaching, the pilot needs to take the necessary steps to remove the obstacles in the view.
As far as the camera settings are concerned, the key to get a good shot is to shoot at the fastest shutter speed. Keeping these few steps in mind, you are ready to experiment with aerial photography.
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