Great aerial photography doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. We get out, get back and get your job done – on time and under budget. Here’s some things you should know about licensing, buying and researching aerial photography:
1. Helicopter VS Airplane: Most airplanes have to fly fast (at least 80MPH) and in most cities have to stay high up (over 1000 feet) This makes them a challenge for some aerial work – especially panoramic. With that said amazing shots are taken from planes – they just tend to be closeups.
2. The sweet spot: most shots have an ideal altitude and lens ratio that will really work. Finding this sweet spot quickly is the secret to not spending a fortune on helicopters and fuel. A good rule of thumb is the sweet spot is over 200 feet altitude and almost always under 800 feet altitude. The better you can communicate the exact altitude and position you need with a pilot the better and quicker your results will be.
3. Helicopters are expensive: figure it’s $550-600 per hour to get a R44 off the ground. You may find a deal or special rate in some towns (VEGAS) but by and large it’s an industry standard. The good news about this is usually if you want to take a helicopter up there is one sitting on the ground waiting for you. They’re too expensive to keep in the air for very long.
4. Big helicopters aren’t great for photography: The bigger helicopters have more plane like characteristics. They vibrate more and are often designed for transport not slow flight. My favorite helicopter is the itsy-bitsy Robinson R22 which has the most “dragonfly” like flying characteristics.
5. Good pilots really help: Bad pilots have to fly fast or they fall out of the sky. Good pilots tend to be smooth and much better at standing in the wind. the slower you can go the easier it is to shoot. The cavat of this is when a helicopter goes slow and it’s not pushing against the ground they tend to drop. This is not what you want a helicopter to do. A great pilot makes the photos come out a lot better…
6. Low light shots are really hard: You will struggle with blur when shooting at sunrise and sunset. The helicopter is vibrating and the low light is a real challenge. New cameras with higher ISO are starting to change this but the night shot of your city or property is almost impossible from a moving helicopter.
Need some aerial photos? Steve Schadt has tons of experience getting you the shots you need without wasting a bunch of time. Check out our aerial photography galleries to see what we do. Call 941.400.0104 to get started – it’s free and we’re happy to consult with you.