HELISTREAM'S BLOG

Aerial Photography Tips

HeliStream offers aerial photography helicopter charters, perfect for capturing scenic photographs of beautiful Orange County and Los Angeles’ coastline or skyline. Helicopters allow the photographer to achieve an angle otherwise impossible from the ground in areas otherwise inaccessible. Even the experienced photographer, however, needs to brush up on a few basic techniques unique to capturing great stills from the air.

The first decision involves selecting which model of craft you will use. For a single photographer, the Robinson R22 offers a cost-effective way to get the shots you need. The passenger door can be removed, so there is no plexiglass interference. While the vibration is heavier in the smaller craft, the easy maneuverability is a bonus.

The Robinson R44 is a 3 passenger craft, allowing for a group of photographers; so it offers an economical group option, with the added bonus of greater craft stability. Like the R22, the doors can be removed on the R44.

The AStar Eurocopter is a superior charter choice with additional features, allowing for Hollywood-style aerial photography. Unlike the smaller Robinson craft, a camera mount on the front of the craft captures angles impossible from inside the helicopter.

Once you’ve decided on a helicopter, there are a few tips to make the experience more effective in terms of photo quality.

  • Stay Inside – As you will discover, it’s never a good idea to lean outside of the craft to take photos – the wind is simply overpowering! Staying inside will allow greater stability, and ultimately clearer, crisper shots.
  • Don’t Lean While Shooting – For greater stability it’s a good idea not to lean against the frame of the helicopter. The vibrations will drive any stabilization sensors crazy and may produce blurry shots in manual mode.
  • Stay Alert – It is easy amongst the excitement of being airborne to forget, but remember that most shots will come as a result of anticipation. This is where having a fast camera comes in handy. Firing off a burst of 3 to 5 shots and being constantly ready is key. Often a great opportunity will present itself and disappear within mere seconds. Unlike on the ground, you lose a great deal of control in the air – but the potential for breathtaking shots literally skyrockets.
  • Fast Shutter Speeds – Technically, make sure you are keeping shutter speeds fast, even as high as 1/750th or 1/1000th can be necessary in order to combat the heavy vibrations. Using Canon lenses as a reference, a 24-70mm f/2.8 is a great choice for landscape-style photos, with a 16-35mm f/2.8 being ideal for cityscapes up-close, like in downtown Los Angeles.

Once back on the ground, save one shot for next to the craft with your favorite HeliStream charter pilot! Check back next week for tips on aerial videography.