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Helicopter Photography

Monday, March 28th, 2011 by | Filed Under: Digital Photography

Photography on land is fun, but snapping in the air is sheer adventure. A bird’s eye view is completely different from a general view. Remember, helicopter photography is an art in itself. And knowing what to do, can make for some memorable helicopter photography. Here are some of the different ways you can make the most of your digital camera.

For starters

Before you get inside the helicopter, take a picture of it landing on the tarmac. The closer to the ground, the better it will appear. Ensure that the pilot and the passenger figure in the frame as well. That will add more life to the aircraft. And if you can shoot multiple aircraft. better still.

(CC image courtesy of David Defoe)

Step with caution

You will have to watch your every step in a chopper. When in the front seat , there is a possibility of stumbling. You might step on the yoke or collide with any of the anatomical parts of the helicopter . So, stay away from all the controls. Shooting will be smooth if all the photographic equipment is handy. You will be thankful to yourself for being organized. For example, swapping lenses in mid air will be easier.

Clip and strap

As the chopper tilts and turns, the gear could be strewn all over. Hence, strap your gear. You won’t get back any that rolled out the door. The spare lens can be tucked in a bag. Fasten the camera to you or to your belt loop. The default camera strap may restrict your mobility while taking the pictures. Check all the equipment on the ground so that shooting in the air proves to be a joyful experience.

Face the space

Slide the door and step out when you are sure about the harness. Place your foot on the step and this will keep the doorway out of the shooting range. Check for blades in some of the shots. Sky photos are a feast to the eyes. You will not get tired of wide angle lens shots of sky. Ensure that the rotor blades don’t feature in them. If they do, then the pictures will be blurred due to their speed. That’s a sure way to spoil the beauty of the sky.

(CC image courtesy of Matthew Redmond)

Sheer delight

Above all, just enjoy being up in the sky. Even if you are there because of work, it will prove to be lovely. Birds can fly anytime and look at the beautiful world below but, for people, it’s a rare opportunity. Things do look different from there and a helicopter ride is not an everyday affair. Capture everything that amazes you. Make the most of it. These are some of the points that could be of use, if you get to take that joyous ride.

(CC image courtesy of Robert Bruce Murray)

Low landscape

With helicopters, one big advantage is taking pictures of landscapes at low altitude, unlike planes that are frequently above the clouds, offering no view at all. So make the most of it by being near the window or door and taking as many pictures as possible. Or better still, capture another helicopter in the vicinity along with the landscape for double the fun.

(CC image courtesy of Niels Sienaert)


Your photography begins the moment the pilot pulls the lever. And your subject is staring right in front of you: the runway. The more elaborate and distinct, like this Belgium airport, the better it is. So make the most of taking vertical and horizontal pictures of the runway landscape. The composition, camera angle and altitude are limited only by your imagination.

(CC image courtesy of Niels Sienaert)

Get creative

Children can be your best subjects. You can get them to sit in the cockpit and take a picture of them with the controls on their side. You could get them talking for a Kodak moment. But that’s not all. You should look around the helicopter after it has landed and see how else you can take a picture. Here is one example, where you can take a picture of a kid using an orifice in the helicopter’s head section.

(CC image courtesy of Nickso)

Be observant

It’s important to keep thinking on your feet when you are inside the helicopter and flying. Your eye should keep looking for an interesting composition, contrast, color and dichotomy, so you get the most of being in a helicopter. One standard rule: don’t ever forget to take a picture of the controls juxtaposed with the scenery beneath the aircraft, as this picture shows. It works all the time and is your safest bet. And if you can add a little bit of yourself, like your feet in the frame, so much the better.

(CC image courtesy of Michael Bridgen)

Follow the lines

Sometimes, it’s important to practice some line photography. What this means, is sensing horizontal, vertical and curved lines and framing your foreground in the same manner. So if you are photographing a river or a road, ensure you have a horizontal, curved or vertical line in the foreground as well. This will not only lend a 3D-effect, but also add an interesting dimension to your composition.

(CC image courtesy of Dave Smith)

~Zahid H. Javali


One Response to “Helicopter Photography”

  1. XRumerTest says:

    Hello. And Bye.

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