Basics of Aerial Photography

Aerial photography provides a unique vantage point which is not possible from anywhere else, making it useful for cartography and analyzing the use of land. Here are a few of the basics of aerial photography.


Apart from a good quality camera with a very good lens, you will need a stabilizer which is based on a gyroscope, to counteract the vibrations and movements which are common while flying (and can give you blurred images). You will also need various filters to get the right effects while shooting in various light conditions. You will find that while you are in the air, the lighting and weather conditions can change dramatically and suddenly over a certain area, and hence you need to be prepared for it. You also need to carry a lot of storage space like memory cards, which will allow you take many shots.

Composing the Shot

While shooting aerial photos, you cannot just use the horizon for a reference point horizontally. You need vertical references as well, and it is important to make the vertical objects appear vertical in the final image. This is done by composing the shot in such a way that the vertical edges of objects are parallel to the edges of the photo which are vertical. Although aesthetics can form an essential part, you cannot sacrifice the vertical reference point for it.

It is not advisable to shoot if the sun happens to be behind you, as you are likely to get flat images. Look for shadows as they will give a certain depth to the image and provide the required contrast.

Taking Multiple Shots

When you are in the air, you have an exclusive vantage point and you also have several options for the angle of the shot. It is better to take multiple shots, as you do not know which angle might turn out to be spectacular in capturing the scene. As your plane travels, you will see that the scene changes with different emphasis on various elements. Hence, you need to capture as many shots as you can and later weed out the unwanted ones.