Aerial Photography

Northern Territory aerial photography.

Have you wondered how professional photographers produce fantastic aerial photography. Nicholas Gouldhurst, one of Darwins leading aerial photographers shares a couple of tips.

As an aerial photographer it is essential to be prepared. I always carry 2 Canon 5D mark iii cameras with different lens on an aerial shoot so I can capture a wide range of images. I use both, a 300mm and a 24-110mm lens. Because helicopters can’t fly below 500ft a 300mm lens or equivalent is essential to capture details and a wide to medium zoom to shoot the complete site or subject.

As we approached a site to begin aerial photography I tell the pilot to circle twice at about 45 degrees to the perimeter. At this distance I can take wide shots of the whole site and be close enough to capture details with the 300mm. When doing aerial photography I take as many photos as possible.

As the helicopter moves around the site the light will dramatically change as our position to the sun alters. When creating aerial photographs I always shoot with my camera on manual and change my exposures as I go. I recommend a shutter speed of 250 or faster as there is a lot of movement. Even thou I have directed the pilot to circle the site I am in constant communication with them concerning the speed, distance and direction that we are travelling.

Doing aerial photography on a bright sunny day means my exposures will vary a couple of stops. With the sun behind us I’ll get a clear vibrant image but as we move around the site we will increasingly shoot into the sun. Shooting into the sun creates unpredictable images, distortion of colour and flares. Generally not what a client wants but can create very artistic images.

Aerial photography tips:

  • Have two cameras with different lenses (telephoto and wide angle)

  • Set cameras to manual

  • Set camera exposure before arriving at the site

  • Circle at a distance to get wide and zoom shots

  • Shoot all angles of the site

  • Stop down exposure when shooting into the sun

  • Time is money. Take lots of photos

  • While up there shoot everything that be used (social media, stock, website etc)

  • Set camera to shutter speed 250 or faster