This week at Sony Kando 3.0, accomplished photographer, Chris Burkard, taught a workshop on the ins and outs of Aerial Photography. Here are a few critical pieces of insight that Chris shared.
What do you want to capture while in the air? Have a goal in mind. Whether you’re shooting internationally or in the mid-west, make a flight plan (Google Earth is a great place to start) and communicate that with your pilot before taking off.
What To Pack
The key is to only bring what you need. Align that with your goals, so you can spend more time composing your images and less time switching out lenses.
1. Camera strap
Use as a makeshift tripod for stabilization
2. Two lenses (three max)
The less lenses you bring, the better. Chris recommends the 16-35mm (sweet spot for aerial) and the 24-70mm (for more compressed images)
This will cut the glare and reflections which is critical
It gets colder than you’d think up there, so you’ll need gloves to keep your hands workable
It’s always best practice to bring your own harness (that you know you can get yourself in and out of) for safety
While In Flight
The biggest take away from Chris is to communicate with your pilot. Instead of spraying and praying, discuss your intent beforehand and during the flight. Like anything else, communication is critical when composing your shot.
Another point he made was to remove the variables. If you’re just starting out and shooting manually is taking away from the experience, shoot shutter speed priority.
Here are some other tips & tricks Chris shared with us:
- NEVER use the back monitor as a viewfinder to avoid black eyes from the vibrations
- Shutter speed needs to be slightly faster than normal (Ex: 250-800)
- Don’t stress too much about aperture. Set it somewhere safe and forget about it (Ex: 5.6-8)
- Start with small steps and move forward. Pair down your options so you can allow yourself to be more creative. (Ex: Bring just one lens)
- Alaska is the best place to begin. More floatplanes go out than any other place in the world making it more affordable
- If you aren’t in Alaska, call the local flight school to find a pilot – it’s usually more affordable
- Always look for contrast between the subject and foreground
- If the only option is to shoot through glass, clean the hell out of it
Explorer, photographer, creative director, speaker, and author
Traveling throughout the year to pursue the farthest expanses of Earth, Burkard works to capture stories that inspire humans to consider their relationship with nature, while promoting the preservation of wild places everywhere.
Layered by outdoor, travel, adventure, surf, and lifestyle subjects, Burkard is known for images that are punctuated by untamed, powerful landscapes. Through social media chris strives to share his vision of wild places with millions of people, and to inspire them to explore for themselves.
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