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Flying technique for aerial photography

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Flying technique for aerial photography

Old 6th Dec 2011, 09:21
  #21 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Hollister, Hilo, Pago Pago, Norfolk Is., Brisbane, depending which day of the week it is...
Age: 47
Posts: 1,318
I tested a gyro stabilised unit that attached to the strut of a 172.
Seemed to work ok.
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Old 6th Dec 2011, 14:40
  #22 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 56
Don't wish to hijack the thread but I would appreciate any info on the following, I have been asked to do some aerial photos of a friend's property development near Rugby in England, he will be paying me for the photos.

Can I hire a 172 and an instructor from a school or do I need to go to an operator with an AOC as I will be a passenger?

Many thanks for any info


Last edited by 52 North; 6th Dec 2011 at 14:53.
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Old 7th Dec 2011, 06:41
  #23 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2005
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This is an Australian forum.
Different rules.
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Old 8th Dec 2011, 03:03
  #24 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: australia
Posts: 1,173
film and cameras....

Blue y. Never, ever, heard of, or read ANYTHING about any difference in the gear,... hand held, small, belly mounted, large, the FN reg just says Photography! And has done for decades. There were changes proposed many years ago, some finally fell off the CASA web site in 2003, initiated in 1998 ?, still have some paper work in the archive.

But like so much of the "progress" proposed by the confuseyoulator, it just doesnt happen. So much time and effort expended for no results at all, at great cost to the hapless taxpayer.
Ops normal for Fort Fumble, I'm afraid.

Horatio lb...Yep, film still on the go. The good 'old' aerial cameras are a lot cheaper than some of the latest hi- techo stuff that costs millions.
The hi res processed negs are scanned at 12 microns or whatever, and all put onto a hard drive which goes into the computer, put up onto the screen in pairs... and voila! The guy with the 3D glasses can get mapping from there.
And the stitched together pics made into a mosaics, photomaps, whatever
There are small format digital mapping cameras available... rather exxy for 30
mps and etc.... but even the shop stuff is catching up fast.
18mp &1100$ but the lens has to be calibrated/know distortions, for mapping.
Its fascinating to see the resolution on Google Earth that we can look at.
The military stuff must be beyond amazing.
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Old 8th Dec 2011, 07:50
  #25 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 118
Some hints for taking oblique photos from high wing aircraft e.g. C172

Window-open ops as described by PilotInPink above are generally sufficient for most photo shoots, However, on the majority of Cessnas of my acquaintance only the pilot side widow is open-able. This means that the photographer must sit in the pilots seat. Therefore it is prudent to be checked out for flying from the right seat.

Flying from the RHS is no big deal but it is sufficiently different to make a check out worthwhile. The aircraft owner/operator may have some opinions about and requirements for flying from the RHS. Having the photographer sitting in the back seat, leaning past the pilot is not a good way to take photos, even if you are good friends.

Door-off ops are OK but generally an overkill for most photo sorties. Usually only required for the really serious pro photographers. For door-off ops the aircraft must have a door-off Flight Manual Supplement and a wind deflector (As used for Skydiving) is advisable. Again a check out is worthwhile as there are some differences in performance, handling, noise and wind buffet etc. Aircraft fitted with in-flight opening/closing para doors (looxury I say) are usually only available from Para clubs/schools.

For door-off ops the photographer should wear a securely anchored personal restraint harness in addition to pax seat belts. This might save the poor pilot having to explain how the photographer fell out. For obvious reasons the pilots seat frame is not a good place to secure this harness.

The camera/s and other equipment should also be secured to prevent loss overboard and restrained in such a way that it will not beat the crap out of the aircraft fuselage if dropped. All POB should be dressed appropriately as it can get very cold at times.

If a photo graphing a fixed object on the in a high wing aircraft ground, one technique that alleviates the need to fly out of balance to keep the wing up out of the way is to first find the line of the shot the that the photographer wants . Then circle AWAY from the object. Each time you come around the wing will be nicely up out of the way. There still might need to be a brief period of slipping flight each time around.

When flying with the wing up take care not to get the wheel in the way.

Brief well before flight.

Finally be very wary of the photographer getting his/her feet mixed up in the rudder pedals. There have been a number of fatals caused by the photographer inadvertently stomping a great boot-full of rudder at an inappropriate moment.

Last edited by Seagull V; 8th Dec 2011 at 07:53. Reason: Add spacing to make it readable
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Old 8th Dec 2011, 09:06
  #26 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: south pacific vagrant
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Sideslip prolonged to get the shot can find you with a quiet engine at low level.
The unkind would say that I'm always flying with sideslip. I get round it by keeping the fuel selector on BOTH!
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Old 10th Dec 2011, 05:25
  #27 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: SE Asia
Posts: 12
Just remove the window strut and the window will stay open at all speeds, as long as you have about 1500+ RPM. If we needed less power then we would jam something between the window and the door near the hinges (tethered to the inside of the plane of course!) to stop it dropping into view.

I would leave the mic plugged in as I needed instructions from the photographer, sideslipping as needed to remove the strut. Always keep the target in view yourself, just at the level of the lower side of the window opening and it will be in perfect view of your photographer!
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Old 12th Dec 2011, 04:12
  #28 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Canberra
Posts: 53
Many years of aerial photography have taught me there's no hard and fast rules but that taking good oblique photos from a 172, even a 152 isn't hard. The best plane was a Cutlass (?) strutless, and I believe that the C210 and C337 are also strutless and therefore can be worth the additional expense for difficult shots.

Almost all the Cessnas I've employed have had the opening window RHS. One early model 172 didn't, I grabbed a black shroud and shot through the perspex, results were satisfactory but not recommended.

Depending on the subject, I'm happy with a 5 -10 degree bank slowly circling a target for some subjects, for others I specify tracking past the subject, wings level, at 10-15 degrees away to the left of parallel, which gives a fairly long clear view once the strut has cleared the subject.

Taking the door off is a waste of time. To get the benefit you need to poke the camera into the slipstream, and that causes all sorts of blurring, the bane of all aerial shots. The strut and wheel or spat also tend to creep into the corners of the photos more, perhaps it's because of an expected better field of view, the care factor diminishes? Also, I've given up asking for flap, it causes the window to fall well before an equivalent clean configuration, and if your track is correctly set up you'll have plenty of time to get the shot.

Do as many orbits as are necessary to ace the shot(s), I find very few of my first runs are exactly what I hoped, and a tracking difference as small as 50 metres at 1000' agl makes quite a difference to the shot.

I go for the fastest shutter speed every time. A good SLR should be able to focus properly at wide open aperture, with ISO set to 200 or 400, on a sunny day speeds of 1/2000 should be routine, and even in turbulence most shots will be clear.

Take as many shots as you can each side of your chosen point. Murphy's law is quite clear here, the exact perfect moment will be spoilt by turbulence or slipstream, the photo taken a second before or after will almost certainly be good enough to send Murphy packing.

I have found Google Earth a valuable aid in planning my runs. Setting GE height at 1000' agl, using the oblique function via the scroll wheel, I can get quite a good approximation of what to expect on the day. Once the angle and distance are OK in GE, it's then a simple matter of returning to vertical and plotting the exact position of the aircraft and the desired track, which I then print out and take as a reference.

In all but the clearest air, shooting towards the sun will cause haze to become much more obvious, so plan where possible to have the sun behind you, especially for vistas.

Best of luck in your endeavours, if nothing else you and the line pilot should get to have fun at minimal altitude, so much better than A to B work!
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Old 12th Dec 2011, 09:33
  #29 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: australia
Posts: 1,173
air pix...

With strut and wheel probs, I mention a T tail Lance or Arrow. From the rear luggage door (removed) you have an 90 degree unobstructed view behind the wing.
Once you have decided on yr best angle of subject shot depending on the lighting, plan yr flight path at 45 deg to cross yr required direction of shot. Early morning and late arvo are best for shadows to give things 'shape', as with light about 90 to angle of view.
Having the light behind you, ie direct onto the subject and straight back to the camera gives a flat uninteresting light. Not good.

Practice make perfect. Note what gives you the desired results. Experiment.

Happy snapping.... and flying.
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Old 14th May 2013, 14:18
  #30 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Australia
Posts: 14
With regard to private vs commercial ops, sometimes on tv (reality or docos or whatnot) you'll see the images from inflight of, for example, a station aircraft or jump ship, which are private ops.

Now if you see these on TV, does that then not technically make it a commercial operation? Is there some sort of dispensation involved or does CASA not really bother chasing it down?
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Old 15th May 2013, 00:13
  #31 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 743
Checkers the bank angle limitation is in the flight manual supplement with the door off approval. I have these for all my PA28s including baggage door off for the Archer where you can take the back seats out. These days CASA wants to get engineering orders for door off.
Stopped doing it years ago because all the photography mobs I dealt with doing aerials of farms were very bad payers.
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Old 15th May 2013, 00:57
  #32 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Wentworth
Age: 55
Posts: 216
I've taken a few hundred, hiring someone else to fly, in which case:

Brief the pilot to fly the aircraft (comply with steps, heights, turns within the AC capacity etc. and where a shot is missed, fly a circle and come on to it again.

That gives an understanding between photographer and pilot, so both can work to the best efficiency.

Open the window which will float up to 90 degrees as others have said.

Use as small camera, with a short wrist cable, hold on to it with both hands like grim death.

Use the front window surround as LH Hand support, turn the camera to face the direction of travel, angle it down and "fly on" to the shot. You'll get great crisp shots with no prop or strut if you get it right.

There's a low pressure area close to the skin, so if you keep the camera in close it's a lot more relaxing, and you'll be further into the cabin, so no problems talking to the pilot.
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Old 15th May 2013, 02:23
  #33 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: UK/OZ
Posts: 1,666
Ensure that you are legal.

Still pictures from fixed wing is one thing... but motion picture work ie video puts extra demands on the pilot. Most DSLRs shoot video so make sure before you take off, if the photographer want to turn into a cameraman mid flight...

The issues are low and slow to keep the shot wide and steady. Also trying to do a perfect orbit despite a wind and slide slipping near the stall.

Excluding war zones, aerial filming kills more cameramen than all other filming activities combined. The pilot usually doesn't come out without a scratch either... two professional cameramen killed in fixed wings this year.. along with their pilots.

Home made harnesses have caused the death of at least three aerial cameramen following a controlled ditching, where all others survived, the cameramen have drowned.

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