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Thread: Shooting out of a helicopter

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    Shooting out of a helicopter

    Need some advise on shooting an 80MP back out of a helicopter.

    What kind of shutter speeds would I need to counter the speed of the chopper? not sure how fast they fly on tours.

    Any thoughts of a tech cam (not expecting movements) vs. a DF?

    Cheers...

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    Senior Member Jamgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    Sounds like fun Jag. Whats would be the max altitude?

    Here are some thoughts that are coming to my mind:

    - pick a focal length that's not too wide to avoid including parts/interior of the helicopter
    - pick a focal length that would hi-lite some features on the ground instead of just a 20000 ft view
    - having image-stabilization/vibration-reduction would be helpful
    - composing might be quite challenging
    - be safe
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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    It's nothing too crazy. Just a tour of the Grand Canyon with a landing. I'm thinking 32HR or 40HR with a tech cam, but not sure if I will get the shutter speeds to get sharp images. I would guess altitude at 1000-6000 ft.


    Other options would be P1 DF or Nikon D800E with 14-24 & D800 IR with Coastal Optics 60mm.

    Any form of image stabilization is likely not possible if I go with MF.

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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    According to Antony Spencer's experience with the IQ280 and the IQ180, he usually use 1/(2*focal length) as the shutter speed at f/4.0 - f/5.6 and then adjust the ISO to the appropriate histogram.

    I would have to annoy you again with a repeated fact that he actually switched to a D800... A Credo 50 or an IQ250 could do better than an IQ280 in this use case. The best solution would be the Pentax 645Z with image stabilization.

    Cold hard but true fact. Lovely and stubborn CCD users

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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    Thanks Voidshatter.

    That is good to know. at 1/2x, I can be in the 1/100 to 1/200 range which will work just fine. I did not know I could go that low. I am going to research the typical speed of these things and get my wife to drive around at that speed while I take some shots, I'm sure she'll love that.

    BTW, not annoyed at all, it is always great to hear other opinions. An IQ250 may be better, but then I could not use my 32HR

    The Pentax would also be viable, but not sure a Nikon solution couldn't get close enough with more flexibility and arguably better glass.

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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    Whatever you do, don't stick the camera out of the open door as the downdraft from the rotors will create all sorts of problems.

    The biggest challenge I had was shooting without the rotor blades ruining the shot, but I was shooting pretty much straight out - if you're angling down, this of course won't be a challenge.

    Can't remember the exact settings for this. It's in the tech cam photo thread somewhere!




    IQ180, Rodie 32HR, FPS. I think!

    Kind regards,

    Gerald.
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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    Thanks Gerald. I was hoping you'd jump in here

    As long as I don't need anything faster than 1/500 I think I should be fine. I will just have to work with whatever lighting prevails.

    You said you were shooting straight out. Any thoughts on having the lens dropped 10mm and still shoot straight out? It is not ideal, but I am hoping this might give a slightly different perspective than the usual "pointed down" look.

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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    You won't need faster than 1/500th but my strong advice is to keep it well north of 1/250th if you can. You have both movement and vibration to contend with and vibration can be harder to gauge. It will vary from aircraft to aircraft.

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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    Quote Originally Posted by jagsiva View Post
    Thanks Gerald. I was hoping you'd jump in here

    As long as I don't need anything faster than 1/500 I think I should be fine. I will just have to work with whatever lighting prevails.

    You said you were shooting straight out. Any thoughts on having the lens dropped 10mm and still shoot straight out? It is not ideal, but I am hoping this might give a slightly different perspective than the usual "pointed down" look.
    Well on that one the horizon is a bit of a giveaway - I was pointing down a bit, and then straightened everything up in post. But the key thing here is that if you're trying to shoot something that is significantly above your horizon, the rotors can ruin the shot. For that frame, the idea was to fly at 300m so that all the other tall buildings in view didn't break the horizon line.


    It's just luck as to whether the rotors are there when you snap or not.

    It's been a long time since I've looked at shots from that flight, I should probably revisit them to jog my (very poor) memory about how things went.

    Sounds like a good plan to me to dial in a 10mm or so fall if you're looking to get the straight verticals.

    Kind regards

    Gerald.
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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    My very limited experience with a Phase DF/IQ180 showed me that shutter speeds of 1/1000 or faster were needed. I shot at ISO 200 with a 150/2.8 mm lens at f4.
    Bill CB

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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    Man this was my life years ago when I was Chief Photographer at Honeywell Avionics. I shot tons of this stuff even with speed graphics cams but mostly with Hassy V. He'll there is a A12 film holder with my name in it at Lake Louise in Calgary. Lol
    Freaking cold as heck shooting in winter. Seriously it's not speed so much but vibration in helicopters so about 1/250 is your best bet. Now I use to hang out of these things door wide open all the time. Little tip duct tape your seatbelt latch down so you don't hit it open. Sit in back and feet under front seat for gripping power . That's just for normal sitting. I use to stand in the rail tethered to the bird. Now that is fun and crazy. Also lenses try normal or slightly wide of normal. But many shots I used the Hassy 50, 80 and 120. Anything longer and you just don't have the speed. Wider you run the risk of the blades or rail in shots.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    Looking back at images shot from helicopters in Australia in 2012 when I took a Phase DF and IQ180, I generally used ISO200 and shot around 1/500 at f8. 1/1000 if possible at f5.6. Lens was mainly 80mm.

    I think I would have struggled using the ARCA in a confined space when the ability to see through a viewfinder and shoot fast was important.

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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    Cameron Davidson shoots with an Arca TC and Leaf Credo 60.

    He is a member here so he might see this thread and share his experience.

    http://instagram.com/camdavidsonphoto

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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    Quote Originally Posted by .:Aleph:. View Post
    Cameron Davidson shoots with an Arca TC and Leaf Credo 60.

    He is a member here so he might see this thread and share his experience.

    Instagram
    Written 11 years ago for Sportsshooter.com - but still solid information about first time aerials.

    First Time Aerials

    I shoot with Nikons and my Alpa TC/Leaf Credo 60in the air. I always use a gyroscope. You can rent them from Kenyon Labs or many rental houses. I use a Kenyon 4x4 and/or a KS-8. (I own both) I occasionally shoot Hasselblad for aerials.

    The article should answer most of your questions about aerials. The biggest key is working with your pilot. Choose someone who understands photography and has flown many photo missions - it is a partnership while you are in the air.

    Also - stay out of the Robbie R-22 helicopter - it is a trainer and is not suitable for aerial photography - I don't care what anyone else tells you or what they claim as experience. I've been shooting aerials for thirty-five years and I will not fly in an R-22. My choice is a turbine machine such as an AStar, Jet Ranger or MD 500. An R44 is a fine machine with the right pilot. The Schweitzer 300 is also good with the right pilot.

    Hope this helps.
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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    That is a great article, Cameron! Thank you for letting us know about it. I presume some things have change now: for example, I don't think you use Delorme Software and SunPath? There is the Photographer's Ephemeric website and Google, am I right?

    I think the thing missing from the article is the discussion about equipment and exposure settings as well as framing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Now I use to hang out of these things door wide open all the time.
    Like this?

    http://marcstpierre.zenfolio.com/img...62117079-5.jpg

    How does that work?

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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    Quote Originally Posted by .:Aleph:. View Post
    That is a great article, Cameron! Thank you for letting us know about it. I presume some things have change now: for example, I don't think you use Delorme Software and SunPath? There is the Photographer's Ephemeric website and Google, am I right?

    I think the thing missing from the article is the discussion about equipment and exposure settings as well as framing.



    Like this?

    http://marcstpierre.zenfolio.com/img...62117079-5.jpg

    How does that work?
    The article was written 11 years ago and while gear and software will change, the realities of aerial photography have stayed the same: safety first.
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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    Thanks for all the advise guys. Shot the IQ180/[email protected] 1/500 and worked quite well. Motion blur from speed was not really an issue, but vibration when I got too close to the plexi or other parts of the body with my arms or camera were.

    Will post some shots shortly. Thanks again.
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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    Now the pics. 40HR, 10mm down....

    Not sure why, but I appear to have detail in these images after I posted here. Any thoughts?






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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    Cameron

    I just want to say a big thank you for that article - it's really great information. I've been considering doing aerial shooting for a while but have felt instinctively very cautious about it. Your article confirms why!



    Quote Originally Posted by Camdavidson View Post
    Written 11 years ago for Sportsshooter.com - but still solid information about first time aerials.

    First Time Aerials

    I shoot with Nikons and my Alpa TC/Leaf Credo 60in the air. I always use a gyroscope. You can rent them from Kenyon Labs or many rental houses. I use a Kenyon 4x4 and/or a KS-8. (I own both) I occasionally shoot Hasselblad for aerials.

    The article should answer most of your questions about aerials. The biggest key is working with your pilot. Choose someone who understands photography and has flown many photo missions - it is a partnership while you are in the air.

    Also - stay out of the Robbie R-22 helicopter - it is a trainer and is not suitable for aerial photography - I don't care what anyone else tells you or what they claim as experience. I've been shooting aerials for thirty-five years and I will not fly in an R-22. My choice is a turbine machine such as an AStar, Jet Ranger or MD 500. An R44 is a fine machine with the right pilot. The Schweitzer 300 is also good with the right pilot.

    Hope this helps.

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    Re: Shooting out of a helicopter

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Osbourne View Post
    Cameron

    I just want to say a big thank you for that article - it's really great information. I've been considering doing aerial shooting for a while but have felt instinctively very cautious about it. Your article confirms why!
    Most welcome.

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