At Rocky Mountain Rotors, we have many people who come and ride on helicopters specifically to engage in aerial photography in Montana. In many cases, these people are trained professionals who have photographed from helicopters many times before. But if you are a serious photographer and will be shooting from the air for the first time, you should know that it is quite a bit different than other forms of photography you are likely to be familiar with.
With that in mind, here are a few tips from our helicopter company in Montana to help you take the best possible photos from a helicopter:
- Ask to leave the doors open: If at all possible, see if you can fly around with the doors off or open. Typically this service is only available for photographers who are shooting on assignment; most vacation or fun rides would not allow for this to happen. Of course, shooting with the doors off makes for a much colder ride, so it is important to be prepared for some uncomfortable temperatures. Still, it’s worth it for the better quality of pictures. Shooting through glass distorts your image and is unlikely to give you a crisp shot.
- Position yourself correctly: Any time you’re riding in a helicopter, you will most likely be buckled in with a secure harness. You will have a strap placed over each of your shoulders, as well as a lap belt like you would have in a car. This means you will have limited range of movement. Still, there are ways you can adjust yourself so you are facing sideways out the door. Just make sure you are safe. It is a good idea to have extra clips on hand to secure your camera around your belt or the safety harness you are wearing in the helicopter.
- Keep an eye on the skids and blades: You should always be aware of the helicopter’s blade and skid position, not just for your safety, but also to give yourself the best frame for the shot. In some situations, your best bet might be to shoot a series of high-speed images and bank on one not having the blade in it. It all depends on the position of the helicopter at the time of your shot.
- Bring two cameras: Changing lenses while in a helicopter can be extremely difficult, because of the winds and the amount of dust and debris likely to be flying around. Plus, you don’t want to run the risk of dropping your gear. Therefore, it’s a good idea to bring a pair of cameras, and make sure you have them both strapped securely so you can easily and safely switch between them.
- Talk to your pilot: If you have particular requests for locations or certain types of shots, just let your pilot know! If you are an experienced photographer and are flying specifically for an assignment, a pilot from a helicopter company in Montana should be more than happy to accommodate your requests, so long as they are safe.
For more tips about taking great photos from a helicopter, contact us today at Rocky Mountain Rotors.