How To Get Started In Aerial Photography


What’s It Really Take?

Back in November 2009, I posted an article about choosing (radio controlled) helicopters for aerial photography. At the time, I was looking for the cheapest way to get professional quality results for both still and video. Back then,  you’d need about $3k worth of helicopter (or more). You’d also need to hire a pilot, or spend a year or more likely two years learning to fly it yourself.

Well, all that’s changed. There are new helicopter designs with ever more sophisticated electronics. The new designs are cheaper, more stable, easier to fly, stay in the air longer, and are safer and easier to repair than “conventional” helicopters. And as digital cameras get smaller and lighter, the loads placed on these helicopters are reduced. This makes it possible to use smaller, less powerful helicopters to get the job done. Sound good? Here are the details… Continue reading

Budget Cameras for Aerial Photography

Smallest Cameras for Aerial Photography

I’m always on the lookout for simple and inexpensive ways of taking pictures.  The term ‘inexpensive’ usually doesn’t go with aerial photography.  However, I recently came across two new products that are moving in the right direction. They are the HD Hero Camera from GoPro, and the FlyCamOne 3 from the Acme game company.  This is neither a preview nor a review of these two new products.  Rather, this post is a quick announcement with some notes about their capabilities.  I will write full reviews after I’ve had a chance to try them out.

Small, Light Weight and Good Image Quality Continue reading

How to Master Nikon D3, D300 Autofocus

Rude Awakening

When my D3 first arrived, I had been using a D2x for 2 years.  I never noticed the D2x’s autofocus because it worked so well.  It faded into the background of my attention.   Expecting to have the same experience with the D3, I took it out of the box and brought it with me to a friend’s wedding.   I was seated among the guests right on the aisle.  It was still daylight, so the chapel had adequate lighting.  When the bridal procession began, I expected to get some great shots for my friend, the groom.   As the procession was moving straight toward me, I had only a few seconds to get a shot.  I confidently picked up the camera, framed and pressed the shutter.  Nothing happened.  I noticed that it was in single shot mode (S on the front switch) and realized that the shutter wouldn’t trip unless the focus was spot on.  I immediately switched it to C.  My last chance.  I reeled off a few frames, but all of them were out of focus.  What had gone wrong?   Of course, I switched to manual focus, but that moment was lost.  Fortunately, I wasn’t the hired photographer that day. Continue reading

Aerial Photography on a Budget

Lower Cost Aerial Photography

My previous post contained information about an electric helicopter and camera harness for remote controlled aerial photography, the AeriCam. Since the cost of the AeriCam helicopter and camera harness starts around $9k (in kit form), I wondered whether there was a significantly less expensive way to get professional quality aerial photographs and video. Since I was an avid radio-controlled (RC) airplane builder as an adolescent, I thought I’d do a little research to see what could be constructed with current technology.  Here’s what I discovered.

How to Pick a Helicopter for Photography

After some research, I discovered that there are radio controlled helicopter kits that are capable of carrying professional still and video cameras.   Continue reading