Going for some aerial shots, What do I need to know.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Atomicfission92, Apr 18, 2009.

  1. Atomicfission92 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    #1
    Hey guys,

    I am going on an aerial tour of the east end of Long Island. And I am going to be shooting with my G1. I have my kit lens, 14-45 and my tele 45-200. Are those going to be good enough to get some decent pics while flying in the air. Also what do I need to do about shooting through the glass on the airplane?

    We plan on going in the afternoon hopefully, probably around 6:30pm or so seeing as how sunset is around 7:30 right now so it would give me about half an hour before and after sunset which I figure should be good lighting.

    Has anyone done this before? Your input would be great appreciated.
     
  2. SayCheese macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2007
    Location:
    Thame, Oxfordshire, England
    #2
    It depends on the quality and cleanliness of the glass in the plane. If it is dirty glass then you will get horrid shots. Also what altitude are you going to be flying at? If you are too high then you will not get much detail. Also depends on how fast the plane is travelling as to how long you have to compose and focus.
    Oh and shutter speeds are vital. You need a fast shutter speed to freeze the shot and counteract the vibrations and speed of the plane. Therefore I would set the fastest shutter speed possible and take your chances.
     
  3. FourCandles macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2009
    Location:
    England
    #3
    Agree with this, hopefully as it's an aerial tour and not a regular commercial flight then the glass will be reasonably clean (possibly take a cloth with you?). Also generally try to get as close to the glass as possible to minimise the effect of dirt and reflections, taking care not to actually hit the glass of course.

    Again agree; this will also make the camera set a wider aperture, which will reduce the depth of field, which in turn will help minimise the effect of marks on the glass.

    You *may* find that your autofocus is fooled by marks on the glass and tries to focus on it briefly; if this a problem then switch to manual.
     
  4. Hmac macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    #4
    The quality of the plexiglass of the side window and windshield will have the largest impact on the quality of your shots. Clean it well before you go, but usually dirt isn't the problem - it's usually the multiple very fine scratches in the material that impair its transparency, as well as any sun damage that may have occurred. For the scratches, you can polish up the plexiglass with a plastic-polishing compound, if you have time. Otherwise, just take a plexiglass cleaner with you for the window you're sitting by. Don't use Windex or other glass cleaner.

    I shot this image of the Citadel in northern Haiti recently from a Cessna with plexiglass windows that were in very good shape. Sharpness suffered, as did contrast, so it's been tweaked a lot in post-processing.

    Nikon D3 with Nikkor 28-70. 1/200th sec at f/8. Probably should have used a faster shutter speed.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. dmz macrumors regular

    dmz

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #5
    Yeah, somebody already mentioned it - the weather is extremely important. Visibility must be high if you want clear shots, and of course, you wanna be in a high-wing aircraft like a tri-pacer so the wings aren't in your way. The windows are going to be a big problem too, clean the crap out of them, use a polarizer on your lens to cut some of the reflection/glare, shoot at the highest shutter speed you can handle, and set your manual focus to infinity.

    Back in the bad-old days, we usually shot aerials with the doors off. I don't know if that's legal where you live, hell, I don't know if it's legal where I live, but my pilot was the one who suggested it. In that case, make sure everything, and I mean everything, is battened down before you take off! Not for the faint of heart, but great shots!

    dmz
     
  6. Little HZ macrumors regular

    Little HZ

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Location:
    New Mexico
    #6
    Hey, Atomicfission, I've been thinking about doing an aerial tour here in NM. Please post a follow-up about how your tour goes, and some pix!!
     
  7. Atomicfission92 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    #7
    Thanks for all the information so far. I'm gonna read over each post and take notes. As far as the plane and flight speed and altitude that shouldn't be a problem because my buddy is gonna be the one flying. So we can select which ever plane suits our needs when we rent it that day. I am hoping we may be able to find a plane where I can open the door or windows as long as we are going slow enough. We are still trying to set up a date to go out. And the nice part is it's cheaper then if we went on a commercial tour.
     
  8. Padaung macrumors 6502

    Padaung

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    I've never done a shoot out of a plane, but have done a couple out of helicopters. Fortunately each 'copter had a small sliding window next to the front passenger seat which was just large enough to fit the end of a standard zoom lens through. On a different shoot a friend asked the pilot if he could remove the door from a 'copter. My friend ended up hanging out the side, safely strapped in with a harness. He got some great shots. It never does any harm in asking these things would be my advice...

    Totally agree that shooting through plexiglass sucks. Only in an emergency, and unfortunately it will severley compromise the quality of your shots.

    On another note, I also once did a shoot from up high when parasailing. Got the shot I was after, it went on to sell very well (unfortunately for the company I worked for, not me!). The towing boat allowed me to be launched and land from the (modified) back, so allowing me and my kit to stay dry. Took a few trips up to get it right though - sometimes it's a hard job ;)


    PS Make sure to take a moment to take the camera away from your eye and actually appreciate the view :)
     
  9. FourCandles macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2009
    Location:
    England
    #9
    Nice photo. Is the haziness at the top of that pic due to the contrast suffering because of the plexi, or is it just altitude haze? Just curious - similar effect on this pic (obviously there's no artistic merit in my pic, just showing the effect!):
     

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  10. Hmac macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    #10
    Both haze and plexiglass effect here, probably more haze than plexiglass.
     
  11. valdore macrumors 65816

    valdore

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2007
    Location:
    Kansas City, Missouri. USA
    #11
    Just a note if you ever arrange for a helicopter aerial tour, make sure the pilot understands you can't have the door between your lens and the place your photographing. And you cannot open a helicopter door in-flight. In other words, make sure the door is removed before take off.
     

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