Aerial photography is a genre that always inspires creativity, and I’ve had a fair few opportunities myself to dabble; including a couple of trips in New Orleans. A differentiator between aerial and landscape photography is that you aren’t afforded the luxury of using a tripod, metering the scene, or fine tuning the composition. Aircraft tend to be in a hurry and unless you can tap your pilot’s shoulder and ask him to go around again, then you’re going to have to be quick and opportunistic with the camera: no second chances.
For these New Orleans Aerials, I generally shot with some standard settings. I set the aperture at about f/11 in order to ensure as much of the image is in focus as possible. This requires a fast shutter speed, no less than about 1/400 seconds. I wouldn’t generally go any slower than that because, as I mentioned, the aircraft is moving at a fair rate and that can cause motion blur. Ideally, you’d like to shoot through an open window as the curvature of the glass can cause distortions in the image, or even result in unwanted reflections. As I was a big girl’s blouse and wouldn’t fly with the windows open (or the door removed on the helicopter!), I did have a little clean up work in Photoshop to fix some lingering little issues.
Downtown New Orleans