Posted in Pennsylvania Scenics, Forests & Parks

Aerial photography technique

Making Photographs from fixed wing planeConventional wisdom would require that a pro photographer would use a gyroscope to stabilize the camera for aerial photography. However, I have made photographs from Cessna aircraft over the last several decades without a gyroscope. I am now exhibiting forty of the most graphic of these with enlargements up to six foot murals. Geisinger Hospital, Danville, Pennsylvania, has enlarged eight of my aerial photographs to twelve foot murals with stunning results.

Granted if I were photographing a cruise ship for advertising and the budget included the use of a helicopter and a gyroscope, I certainly would utilize them and the results would be pinpoint sharp.  That however, has not been my fortune. Usually I have made aerial photographs for small corporations or for my own stock archive. I hire a pilot and plane for about $98 an hour.

The Cessna 100 series has a swing out window which rests on the wing above the cabin and is held there by the airstream. With the window open I have a clear unobstructed view to the ground.  I am usually flying at 1,000 feet (the lowest flight height allowed) above ground. Without a gyroscope I am able to maximize sharpness by “trailing” the scene I am photographing rather than making the picture straight away at right angles looking out of the window at the landscape. I choose a scene as the plane approaches it. I let the scene go by directly to my right as I prepare to photograph it as the plane passes it and I am angling the camera to the rear.
This technique simply relies on the fact that a scene moving away from the camera is easier to stop than movement at right angles to the camera.  Using this method I am able to set the digital sensitivity at 100 ASA to maximize sharpness. I use a shutter speed of 1/ 250th second usually with a f/4.5 setting on a 20–50mm zoom lens or a 28mm fixed focal length lens.  This method and settings give remarkably sharp results. View Gallery

Comments are closed.