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Tuesday, 14 July 2009


Take a picture of it!

Mike, and what if we don't want to specialise? For instance, I love shooting rock concerts, but wouldn't want to limit myself just to them. I like shooting cities, even if it's more architecture than people. I like nature. I like animals. And I like casual portraits without artificial light.

(Hidden agenda: I'm just reorganising and redesigning my site... And my aerials are really not up to it. :-))

"Best of all, while it's just as hard to get a great aerial shot as it is to get any other kind of great picture,". Mike, you're spot on, as usual.
As an aerial photographer down under here in Australia, I learn something every time I fly. Things to consider include the weather, air traffic control restrictions, the weather, having a pilot and aircraft available at call, putting up with hanging out in 100 knot slipstream at 2 degrees Celsius with the door off while pointing the camera straight down in a steep turn, (not often, admittedly), framing the shot exactly, taping the camera so no settings get changed, communication with a pilot who knows what he or she is doing, and did I mention the weather?? It's a challenge to get GREAT photos, but most times the clients don't realise what's involved. And the float fee for helicopters is prohibitive in most shoots I do. Cessna 172/182 with doors off are wonderful, but the ultimate, but extremely slow platform is a "Drifter" ultralight. Just my two cents.

funny timing...
i was reading this post and looked up to the TV where I was indulging myself by watching a few minutes of Harold and Maude on TCM just as the aerial view of the cemetery came on. First time I have watched it since I saw it at the movies in '71. I suppose this movie could serve as the one movie on the movie shelf that would lead a visitor to say "I can watch anything"
it won't get you recognition but it says good things about you just the same.

Have some fun today Mike,


I fully agree Mike, with the no wedding photos, and that one aerial will get attention. This shot was from a two man ultralight. I was not the pilot, as it is better to get the shot than lose the life.

*I'd show it to you if my darned scanner worked, but oh well.

It's not really my business to tell you your business, but folks have been known to stoop so low as taking a photo of a photo with little ill effect - especially considering the web as target.

Just sayin'

Mike was either kind, impressed or foolish enough to run some aerials of mine on TOP a few months ago. Even though I don't shoot professionally, that feature is a fabulous calling card for me, helping con the innocent into accepting me as a somewhat serious photographer. Yes, TOP provides street cred.

If you are looking for a photo flight opportunity, keep in mind that a lot of private pilots are also into photography and more often than not they fly high-wing Cessnas. Also, many, many pleasure pilots are constantly on the lookout for that elusive Reason to Go Flying, something other that the humdrum $100 Hamburger Flight (which is more like $200 these days). A little networking might find you a share-the-cost deal with a pilot/shutterbug, probably costing you under a hundred bucks for an hour or so.

Mike, I have a friend who has a Cessna and has offered many times to take me up. However, I'm scared to death of small planes. Several years ago he related how the engine had blown up over the beach and he glided the plane back to the airport with all sorts of emergency vehicles waiting for him to crash. This incident did nothing for my confidence and I have managed all sorts of excuses to avoid having to fly with him. Portfolio be damned.

Here in Madison you can get a flight in a Cessna 172 for $75/hr; or at least that's what it was about 3 years ago. Hard to imagine it could get any cheaper than that.

Just a comment about 'trying to show everything' in a portfolio - Zack Arias' blog (www.zarias.com) has a series of excellent video critiques of website portfolios submitted by readers. He really stresses the need to keep a portfolio focussed and targeted to specific work/clients etc. But of course I'd like to hear your take on it as well, Mike!

Actually, the ultimate aerial camera platform is the Drifter's big brother:


It was originally designed for a National Geographic photo mission over inaccessible terrain, where rescue would be unlikely if you went down. 40 MPH over anything in near-perfect safety; I have one under construction. Yes, I'm insane.

This may be cheating but I've taken some nice shots by simply standing on balconies of multi-story buildings. Most of us rarely get to stand somewhere and look straight down more than maybe twenty feet at best. The view of a parking lot from eight stories above can be interesting.

My fear of flying is such that no amount of in-body or lens stabilization will compensate for the blur-fest that would result. 'Impressionist aerial' as a sub-genre?

Of course an airbus A320 isn't bad either


To Paul De Zan.. Wow.. what a platform. Speed and that ability to shoot left and right at the same time. Luxury, I want one, but $US90K is just beyond my budget. I envy you guys who can get a Cessna for less than $125/hr.

Or you could just pay attention while you're flying coach:


I've a little experience of aerial photography - what I've learned:

1 - space in small planes and helicopters is, well small. Smaller than you think if you start trying to twist around for a shot or try and use anything longer than a standard lens.

2 - if you can't open a window, forget it.

3 - beware IS. I have a pretty good stomach in the air and on sea, but when the IS kicks in and makes everything look stable, while my body is telling me something else - that's when the problem's start!

4 - best photo platform I've been in is a hot air balloon. Great view, can be quite low, no slipstream, and great fun. As most balloon flights take place early or late in the day, the light is at its best as well.

Of course a balloon is not much good if you want a specific picture (unless you are very lucky).

For those who are nervous/terrified flyers, a balloon is the way to go - it really doesn't feel like flying. Its more like going up in a lift and watch the world move underneath you.

Balloon flights aren't cheap, but I've yet to meet anyone who didn't think the experience was worth every penny - the photography is an added bonus.



This is my aerial shot. I have a private license, VFR and was in a Cessna 152, N757GX. I used Ektachrome Aero, 135mm, 25A filter. This is of the north Grand Island bridges, in upstate NY:


>I want one, but $US90K is just beyond my budget.

Ahh...how wonderful if it really cost $90K! The real cost to completion is a fair bit higher, but a new C172 is more than twice the price. That's the sort of thing I tell myself when nagging concepts like "fiscal responsibility" punch their way into my mind.

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