jk0305aa 8:20pm, 22 August 2007
I have been asked to do some aerial shots for an agent wanting to list a large commercial property. My questions are: Do I need image stabilization in my camera or will a fast shutter speed freeze the jarring of the airplane? Can I shoot through the glass of the window and get good results? Most single engine jobs don't have crank down windows or open cockpits. And lastly...what do I charge, the ride will be free.

Thanks for any advice!
Scott Hargis 11 years ago
A) IS lenses are the bomb for stuff like this

B) Either way, use a fast shutter speed

C) Do NOT shoot through the window! Open the door. And wear your seatbelt.

D) Unless the client arranged the flight, don't discount the shoot just because you have resources. Reducing your overhead should make you more profitable, not less!

Please post the results!
Mr.Bones 11 years ago
I did an aerial shoot in a single engine airplane for an agent a few weeks ago. Like you I worried about IS and shooting through the window (and focal range). I used an 80-200 f2.8 lens (no IS) and I must say focal range and IS ended up the least of my worries. 300mm effective focal length was plenty and shutter speeds were fast enough to get sharp pictures (it was a clear sunny day).
Shooting through the window proved to be impractible due to the reflections but fortunately the airplane had a small 'bad weather' window that is used when the inside of the window fogs over. It was enough to stick my lens through.
That said, absolutely make yourself familiar with the airplane before you go. Where will you be seated? Position of wings? Windows? How low can the pilot go? etc...
One last tip: Use a UV filter to cut through some of the haze

Good luck to you. It's a lot of fun!
propertysnaps 11 years ago
I often do aerial photos from aircrafts- (every week now!)

First thing is make sure you get an aircraft witht the wing above you rather than below you. The Cessna 172 is the best aircraft because it has a big window that opens and the wing is above you. Don't even bother trying to shoot through the window it wont work, You need to open it and put you lens out (take off your lens hood, the wind will rip it right off!)

Keep your shutter speed above 300/th

I usally have my 30d kited up with a 70-200 for close ups and my 5d with a 16-35 for map style shots

My best advice I can give you is make sure you understand what your client wants and when your up in the air take your time to get the shot right, Otherwise it will end up a costly exercise.

As mentioned by Scott, try and get a few more jobs booked in. you will make a truck load more cash this way! I just do a ring around to all the agents and land developers.

Do a drive past the shoot site and get some visual landmarks in your head or on paper, pilots don't use street maps so its up to you. or a GPS if you have one.

When you download your photos run the unsharp mask over them to reduce the haze and bump up the contrast

Oh yeah and its windy as shit up there too! So be prepaired when you first crack open that window!

Good luck and let us know how you go.
petanque don 11 years ago
I would agree with Scott just because you can get a free ride today doesn’t mean you can get a free ride tomorrow. (Some people may even suggest there is no such thing as a free lunch (ride)).

Kite aerial photography may be worth looking into if you are getting a lot of this style of work assuming the properties are away from powerlines it is an involved technique and will take time to perfect.
jk0305aa 11 years ago
Thanks for all the great tips.......cold beers for everyone!
I will follow up the shots when they are done!
petanque don 11 years ago
Or for the budget conscious


I have never flown a radio controlled model and have no idea how difficult it is.
Malcolm Waring 11 years ago
I just started playing around with Pole Arial Photography (PAP).

There are 3 taken from 28 feet in the photo gallery for this listing:

I have about $30 invested in this not counting a $60 LCD TV and a Lumix P&S.

It started with a 16ft window washing pole I found in the closet. Thirty cents got a tripod screw (no drilling either) but it was tricky to set the timer and point it in the right direction.

Then I found twelve 4ft sections of military fiberglass tent poles for $25 that I add to the end. I can set up 32 ft by myself but at 28 I can walk around with it.

Then I added the TV downlink, and a shutter trigger made from a paper clip, some vinyl left over from an arbor project, and some masons string.

My father-in-law has a Piper Cherokee but it's a low wing and I don't think the window opens. If he ever gets it back from the guy who seems not not to be painting it, we are going to give it a try.
bustling school [deleted] 11 years ago
we need to rename you "Macgyver"
jk0305aa 11 years ago
"window washing pole" shots are nice. I think you are onto to something that works well and gives you a market edge for properties that need aerial exposure....but airplane not needed. I like susannehayek's name for you!
mjn-1160 PRO 11 years ago
Those are great Malcolm - very clever idea. Sounds like you also have had several other projects over the last few months. Super shots and the other interiors are nothing to sneeze at either.

M. James
Scott Hargis 11 years ago
Yeah, the interior shots on that link were super - have you been holding out on us? How come I haven't seen any of those in the pool?
Malcolm Waring 11 years ago
Heh heh, it seems like I have collected a few nicknames lately. I sometimes take buyers out on weekends when my wife gets booked and one fun couple calls me "The Fast and the Furious." Something to do with my driving...

Thanks for the compliments! I have two things on my list-of-things-to-do-when-I-get-time. One is to shoot and post all my gear, the other is to start uploading stuff to flickr and the pool.

I guess I'm still a bit timid about posting, but I'll try to get to it in the next week or so. I have to get the CF card with the 7-14 lens shots too.

Regarding that link, that was one of three listings that I reshot one day. I think I only have a couple left to do.

In the meantime, here are a few more links:

This one was a lot of fun, it really made the knotty pine bright. Closed yesterday:

A nice house. I would like to go back and do the outside at dusk with lit windows.

Another from the reshoot hat trick. I used the pole but I needed a longer one.

I think this was my forth one ever. I didn't realize at the time I could bounce off of beige walls without changing color so there are hot spots.
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