Shooting aerial photography from a helicopter!
There is a audio version of this article if you prefer listening to me.
I was twice asked by Wikimedia (the people behind Wikipedia) if i wanted to take aerial photos for them, i said yes and here is my findings on how to successfully take great pictures from a helicopter:
The pictures i added to the article shows the Stockholm archipelago and parts of the city.
You will be shooting through a window and that creates less contrasty pictures, when editing the pictures add back the contrast for nice and punchy pictures!
During the summertime the pilot may agree on allowing the side doors to be opened and you will be able to get pictures that require less editing to look great!
Make sure you don't touch any surfaces of the helicopter as it vibrates allot and can create blurry images!
Aim for at least 1/1000 shutter speed for sharp and great looking pictures!
Use higher iso values to make sure the camera stays around the 1/1000 shutter speed, noise reducing software is available and you will still get a great looking image!
I recommend around 35-50 mm focal lengths for a great end result, to much wide angle and the subject becomes tiny and less impressive!
You will constantly have the sun in your viewfinder, accept it and work around it by composing the photos in the best possible way!
Don't mess with the camera settings in the helicopter as you will only have a couple of seconds to compose and get the photos that look great to you!
The good news is that the helicopter has a specific route and the pilot can return to a spot you would like to photograph again!
Use the raw mode on your camera as the light from above can change fast between bright and dark, by using raw mode you can recover more highlights and shadows!
When shooting from a helicopter everything is infinite focus, auto fokus the first time and then don't worry about the focus.
I did however as a security measure auto focus now and then just in case i accidentally moved the focus ring!
Use a gps app on our smartphone and log the route, this helps you to know where you took the photos by comparing the time information on your pictures and the gps logger!
Don't forget to check the time settings on your camera to make sure it is correct so that it will match with the gps loggers data!
Depending on the aerial photography picture publishing rules in your country you may need to contact the military and send them the pictures for a final approval!
Have a great time as this is something that many will never experience!
If you want to see more of the pictures from my first helicopter aerial flight use the flickr link below:
If you have any questions dont hesitate to contact me via my email.