Aerial Photography

It’s strange how things happen sometimes… We’ve been needing to update our aerial photography of Durban for some time now as the construction of the The Moses Mabhida Stadium for the 2010 Soccer World Cup has made many images of Durban obsolete. The weather in Durban and surrounds over the past months has been dreadful for photography and it’s only now that autumn is approaching are we able to consider any major shoots in the area.

ABSA and The Moses Mabhida Stadiums. Durban. KwaZulu Natal. South Africa

ABSA and The Moses Mabhida Stadiums. Durban. KwaZulu Natal. South Africa

I happened to get a call from friend and fellow photographer John Lamberti (It was he that did those delicious biscuits that were available in the supermarkets at one time) and after chatting for a while he said that he was doing some aerial photography of Durban the next morning and would I like to split the costs. Would I just…? He had chartered a Robbinson 44 from Starlight Aviation at Virginia Airport (what amazing people to deal with) and after a very early morning (we had to drive down from Howick) we found ourselves flying slowly over Durban. The city was looking beautiful in the early morning light and we spent just under an hour dodging airliners in their final approach to Durban Airport and other helicopters doing pretty much what we were doing. Anyway, 660 shots later we landed back at Virginia. Have a look at some of the images we did here: http://www.africaimagery.com/albums/durban_aerial_photographs/index.html

Aerial photography can be quite tricky especially when working from a helicopter as, contrary to what one might expect, they can shake rattle and roll a little which does not really make for sharp images. Here then are a few photo tips for those taking to the sky with a camera.

1. Set the ISO setting to as much as you can without  creating too much noise. I used ISO400 on my Nikon D3x and it handled this like a bomb!

2. Set your camera to aperture priority and dial in the largest aperture you can. For me (I had Nikon’s 24 – 70mm lens on the camera) it was f2.8 but go as fast as you can. This sets up the camera to give you the highest shutter speed possible under current lighting conditions.

3. Set the drive to continuous (High).

4. Set the focus mode to continous (servo) and the focus point selection to automatic.

5. Keep the camera inside the aircraft when you are shooting  – you do not want to create any additional vibration by having the lens in the air flow.

6. Do not brace the camera on the aircraft anywhere as this allows vibration to be transferred from the plane top the camera.

7. And finally, a polarising filter can help cut through the haze but remember you do loose 2 stops of light when you screw it on.

Good luck and happy landings.Aerial Photography

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