A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO TAKING AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHS
Shooting from the air can be as equally exciting as it is daunting. A doors off, helicopter experience is one you won’t forget. But there’s lots to consider when taking your first flight, so here’s some tips I’ve learnt over the years of flying:
1. DON'T BE SHOOTING ALL THE TIME
Relax, enjoy the experience, marvel at the wonders of the world, and soak it all up. Don’t have your camera to your eye the whole time - you’ll miss stuff and you’ll also miss the experience of being up in the air. Take your time to enjoy the moment, be present and then something catches your eye, frame it up for the shot.
2. LOOK AHEAD FOR WHAT'S COMING UP
If you concentrate on whats below you, you’ll miss the shot. Anticipate what’s coming to make sure you get it!
3. KEEP YOUR SHUTTER SPEED HIGH
Given you’re shooting from a fast-moving plane or helicopter, it’s important to maintain a fast shutter speed to prevent any camera shake or blur. I switch my camera to Shutter Priority and set the shutter to at least 1/1000s.
4. KEEP THE ISO AS LOW AS POSSIBLE
The best quality photograph comes from keeping the ISO as low as possible, regardless of whether you’re in the air or on the ground. I aim for ISO 200 when shooting aerials. It gives you more flexibility than ISO 100, however you many need to bump up your ISO 400 or 800 if the light is low.
5. DON'T BE AFRAID TO DIRECT THE PILOT
If you get a good pilot, they should be willing to do what you ask. Most are very obliging. Especially if you’ve chartered the aircraft and they’re doing something different to what they normally do. If you’re not in the right position, tell them. They’re not photographers so they don’t know - they often appreciate being told what to do. NEVER hesitate to ask to go back, go around again or go somewhere else as you’ll most likely never get that opportunity again.
Tom Putt was awarded the 2021 and 2019 International Photography Awards (IPA) Aerial Photographer of the Year.
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