6 Tips for Taking Aerial Photographs from a Helicopter

Jul 16, 2019 | Liberty, The Helicopter Company News & Events

New York’s most notable landmarks stand tall and proud. The Statue of Liberty stands at 305 feet tall, and the Empire State Building has a roof height of 1,250 feet. You also have to consider the landmarks that are expansive such as the Brooklyn Bridge that spans more than 1,525 feet. When you consider the sheer size of these amazing hot spots, it just makes sense that you are only going to get the best shots from the air. Yet, aerial photography is one of those art forms that many people only get to try once or twice. As you get ready for your helicopter tour, you can use these six tips to secure the optimal shots.

Identify Your Goals

Once you leave the helipad, you can count on your heart to start pumping with excitement. While all of that adrenaline is great for helping you to zero in on the perfect shot, it is also easy to get so overwhelmed by the experience that you forget what you wanted to accomplish. Spend a few minutes thinking about the photo that you want to capture. Do you prefer a classic lockdown shot, or do you want it to look like you are staring straight at the Statue of Liberty’s majestic expression? Either way, pinpoint your goal helps you communicate better with the pilot and not lose sight of your mission as you feel the excitement of flying through the air.

Make Good Lighting a Priority

Even amateur photographers know that good lighting is essential for snapping that perfect image. However, aerial photography requires you to work with nature since factors such as clouds can impact the way the light hits focal points like buildings and the water. We can help you pick the best time to fly, which typically is in the later morning and mid-afternoon range.

Book a Private Flight

Our group flights allow for about five or six people to ride at a time, making every seat a great seat to see the city and snap some photos. We assign two people each to a large window. You will also have great views from the back and front of the helicopter. Also, we do not believe in squeezing over 6 passengers into a helicopter as the views can be obstructed making it tough for great aerial views and photographs. However, you may prefer to book a private helicopter ride if you have specific needs for your shoot such as being able to pass by a landmark multiple times. NYC helicopter tours also allow you to bring along a friend to take shots from several perspectives.

Know How to Combat Glare

Glare is a significant challenge that photographers face on helicopter tours. While we keep our doors and windows as clean as possible, you should still take steps to avoid dealing with a glare that mars your photos. We recommend using a polarizing filter to help offset the effects of shooting through a reflective surface. You may also choose to wear darker colors that are less likely to be picked up in the reflection of the glass.

Prep Your Camera Beforehand

During the flight, it is best to avoid having to do things such as change lenses on your camera because the motion of the helicopter can make it difficult. Plus, you don’t want to waste a single second of your on-air tour doing task work. Try to adjust your camera’s settings before you take off, and consider having a backup one ready with different adjustments just in case you need them.

Keep Shooting

On our tours, you’ll find that no shot is ever wasted. You can set your camera to burst mode, or just keep snapping away. While focusing on your subject is important for getting a good photo, you’ll also find that some of the best aerial photographs are unexpected.

A helicopter tour is an experience that you will never forget, and having the photographic proof of your adventure lets you relive it again and again. Remember that practice makes perfect. Keep exploring new sites that you want to photograph so that you can continue to deepen your aerial photography skills.