The good, the bad and the ugly of aerial photography - Part 1: Why shoot aerials?
Man has always had the dream of flight – but so has the photographer. It’s a unique experience to shoot from the air, and it has some incredible benefits in many senses. But as one might discover, it often carries a number of problems and a hefty price tag. I personally started my romance with serious aerial photography about three years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. My experiences have mostly been amazing but admittedly not always so, and I’ve come to wonder what makes photography flights in different settings so… well, different.
In this series of articles I’ll try to survey my own experience with aerial shooting, including the different aircrafts to shoot from, what equipment to use, what technicalities to put an emphasis on and of course, the prices. I’ll talk about some of my aerial shoots, and explain what distinguished them and what I learned. Aerial photography can be wonderful and exhilarating, but it can also be disappointing if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. I hope the following articles help with this.
So what makes aerial photography so darn good? A great many things. First of all, it allows for a new – and extremely different – angle of shooting. There’s a huge difference in the angle of view when shooting from the ground, or even from a mountaintop, and when shooting from hundreds of meters above the landscape. The same scenery gains another dimension, and the viewer gets a much better understanding of the surroundings. Perspective deformations are also less pronounced since there’s less of a difference in distance to the subject’s different parts.
|An aerial shot of Deadvlei, Namibia. It’s incredible to realize that most of the clay pan is actually devoid of trees - which is hard to perceive when you’re down there.|
It can be claimed that only from the air, one can see the landscape for what it really is. Unseen parts of the setting can be exposed, for example ones that are obscured by mountains, and with good visibility, one can see and shoot much farther than from the ground. In the image below, shot from a helicopter in Holuhraun, Iceland, several of these advantages are demonstrated: first of all, when shooting from the ground, it was impossible to get a shot of the lava which includes the caldera itself. Secondly, this angle allows for inclusion of the lava river in the background, which contributes a great deal to the composition.
In addition, some landscapes are hard to get to – not to mention shoot – from the ground, especially close enough to make them interesting. A good example of this is an erupting volcano. If the lava flow is strong, it can be impossible to go near the eruption point itself, but from the air, it can often be seen quite clearly.
But it’s really not limited to volcanoes. Instead of traversing miles and miles on foot, camping, climbing and struggling, one might take a short flight, shoot a location and fly back in time for dinner. Sounds enticing, and it truly is. Moreover, it’s quite addictive, so much so that when visiting a new location, I often feel like I have to shoot it from the air, even if there isn’t much sense in it. One mustn’t forget that aerial photography is an experience to cherish, not to be taken for granted. Do it when you must, when it offers real benefits, and not just as a means to shoot without making an effort.
|The terminal of Ilulissat glacier, Greenland.|
In the next article in the series I’ll talk about the two most popular aircrafts for aerial photography.
Erez Marom is a professional nature photographer, photography guide and traveler based in Israel. You can follow Erez's work on Instagram, Facebook and 500px, and subscribe to his mailing list for updates.
If you'd like to experience and shoot some of the most fascinating landscapes on earth with Erez as your guide, you're welcome to take a look at his unique photography workshops around the world:
Land of Ice - Southern Iceland
Winter Paradise - Northern Iceland
Northern Spirits - The Lofoten Islands
Giants of the Andes and Fitz Roy Hiking Annex - Patagonia
Tales of Arctic Nights - Greenland
Saga of the Seas and The Far Reaches Annex - The Faroe Islands
Desert Storm - Namibia
Selected articles by Erez Marom:
- Behind the Shot: Dark Matter
- Mountain Magic: Shooting in the Lofoten Islands
- Behind the Shot: Nautilus
- Behind the Shot: Lost in Space
- Behind the Shot: Spot the Shark
- Quick Look: The Art of the Unforeground
- Behind the Shot: Watery Grave
- Whatever it Doesn't Take
- Winds of Change: Shooting changing landscapes
- On the Importance of Naming Images
- Hell on Earth: Shooting in the Danakil Depression
- Parallelism in Landscape Photography
|2014_1211_140657AA by old shutter bugger|
from The Bride
|Overloaded by NZ Scott|
from Your City - Delivery Boy
|Barley by Will B Milner|
|APPLE & ROACH by TX Photo Doc|
from Delicious - Unpalatable
Try your hand at this blind portrait shootout between the Canon 1DX Mark II, Nikon D5 and Sony a9. With all bias removed, you might just rank your favorite camera brand worst.
Photo sharing site 500px has just added support for wide-gamut color profiles such as AdobeRGB and ProPhotoRGB, even allowing users to filter their searches by color profile.
DJI just released a mandatory firmware update for the DJI Spark. If you own a Spark and don't update your firmware by September 1st, DJI will remotely ground your drone.
Affordable flash manufacturer Godox has updated its smartphone app so that it can be used to control all of its wireless X flash units, not just the A1 smartphone flash.
Western Digital's new My Book Duo external desktop storage system offers up to 20TB of storage capacity, and comes with RAID-optimized WD Red hard drives.
Version 1.04 of the Sony a6500 firmware can be downloaded from the Sony Support website now.
Not sure how to choose your first drone? In this article, the second of a 3-part series, we discuss what factors you should consider when deciding what drone is right for you.
NASA photo editor Joel Kowsky didn't just capture the solar eclipse from his vantage point in Wyoming, he also managed to capture the ISS buzzing across what remained of the sun.
In these videos, talented photographer and filmmaker Daniel DeArco breaks down several tips that will help flash photography newbies start experimenting with artificial light.
Photographer and master potter Steve Irvine makes incredibly intricate, functional ceramic pinhole cameras that look like robots and monsters.
Chinese gimbal manufacturer Gudsen has released a firmware update for its Moza Air that lets you control the direction and angle of the head remotely just by moving a small handlebar-mounted control unit.
Curious how the Sony a9 performs underwater? Our friends at Backscatter took the camera diving off the Baja California coast, to find out how it handled shooting great white sharks.
While most of the DPReview crew put away our cameras and just watched the celestial event, Rishi decided last-minute to hack together a rig and capture a few shots.
Defunct Russian camera maker Zenit is making a comeback, and they're planning to release a full-frame mirrorless camera in 2018.
The days where you're more or less locked into premium or first-party flash units has gone. They're less than $50 now, so there's one less excuse not to get one. Here's our case for adding one to your kit, and a few pointers to get you going.
If you're shooting the solar eclipse here's a hint: don't fry your camera's sensor. Use a proper solar filter that offers at least 16 stops of light filtration, along with UV and IR filtering. More important? Don't look at it unless you've got solar filters. Sensors can be replaced, your retinas can't.
Photographer Rick Wenner recently captured an odd event called the Race of the Gentlemen with a rather odd camera: The Phase One XF IQ3 Achromatic, the world's only 101MP black-and-white digital back.
Buying used is a good way to save some dough, and with the right precautions you can protect yourself from falling victim to a scam.
This two-part video series takes a deep dive into the world of dynamic symmetry and geometric composition, using iconic photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's brilliant photographs as a guide.
Award-winning photographer Jeremy Cowart tells the moving story behind this drone photograph, captured in the aftermath of the devastating wildfire in Gatlinburg, TN in 2016.
Happy 2017 World Photo Day! We asked everyone on staff at DPReview to share one photo that they took within the last year that makes them jazzed on photography. Here's what we chose.
French President Emmanuel Macron has lodged a legal complaint against a paparazzo who snuck onto the president's private vacation property to take pictures.
Ever wonder what the difference is between compressed, uncompressed and lossless compressed Raw files? Photography Life's Nasim Mansurov breaks it down for you in this informative article.
The oldest known portrait of a US president was just discovered after over a century in storage. It's going up for auction in October, where it's expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000.
If you're using the popular Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 Art lens with Sigma's MC-11 converter, listen up: you'll want to update your lens and converter firmware ASAP.
If you've heard it once, you've probably heard it a thousand times: never check in your camera gear when flying. This shattered $11,000 lens is what can happen when you do.
Lensrentals just did its first Cine lens comparison, pitting five top-notch 35mm primes against each other: the Zeiss CP.2 35mm T2.1, Canon CN-E 35mm T1.5, Sigma 35mm T1.5 FF, Rokinon Xeen 35mm T1.5 and Schneider Xenon 35mm T2.1.
A team of Google researchers have found that slightly warping watermarks when embedding them into images can help prevent automatic removal.
You don't have to empty your savings account to take your photography to the next level. These cheap buys cost about $50 or less, and come with outsized benefits for your photography.
Joey L, Dani Diamond, Brandon Woelfel and Jessica Kobeissi go head-to-head in an episode of "4 photographers shoot the same model."