How to Take Aerial Photography

Aerial photography is one of the hardest forms of photography. It will take some experience on your part before you are able to take the perfect shot from a moving object that is thousands of feet in the sky. To take aerial photography, you need to find a pilot and an airplane or helicopter, have the proper equipment, and you need to be familiar with various aerial photography techniques.

Step 1: Find a Pilot and Airplane or Helicopter

The hardest aspect of aerial photography is finding a pilot and an airplane or helicopter. You are not going to get good aerial photography shots if you are attempting to take them from a commercial airplane or helicopter. For the best aerial photography shots, you need to be able to open the windows, which means you should be flying in an older airplane or helicopter.

Any aerial photography shots that are taken through a window will be of low quality. Many aerial photographers like to capture shots from a hole in the floor of an airplane or helicopter, but those photos are only good for mapping and surveying. If you have a target in mind for your aerial photography, make sure to ask your pilot to obtain permission to fly circles around the target so you can take continuous shots.

Step 2: Ensure the Proper Equipment

The digital camera that you decide to use for aerial photography is totally up to you. However, you will need to make sure that the camera allows for continuous shooting, which most digital SLR cameras do. In terms of camera lenses, vibration reduction and image stabilization lenses are recommended for aerial photography.

As a general rule, you want to purchase the fastest lens that you can afford. Lenses with a zoom of f/2.8 are ideal for aerial photography. The lens that you decide to use for aerial photography should have a focal length that does not exceed 200 mm. Many aerial photographers will use haze and UV filters for aerial photography, but they don't work. If you need to use a filter for aerial photography, you should consider using a yellow or polarizing filter.

Step 3: Apply Aerial Photography Techniques

You are going to experience a lot of vibration regardless of the aircraft that you are flying in. To combat the vibration, you will need to use a fast shutter speed on your digital camera. A good idea is to use a shutter speed that is eight times the focal length of your lens. You should also be holding your digital camera at all times. Tripods do not work for aerial photographer. Being that aerial photography does not call for depth of field, you should only be using very large apertures.

You are likely to run into haze while you are obtaining aerial photography shots. You can deal with the haze by setting your digital camera to its highest contrast settings. If you are very comfortable with your digital camera, you can manually focus it for aerial photography, but you should be able to obtain high quality aerial photography shots with your camera on autofocus.