Digital Aerial Photography

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Digital Camera types

Digital SLR Camera AKA "DSLR"-   This is a Single lens reflex camera with a CCD in place of the film.   The single lens reflex system allows the photographer to view the image to be shot through the lens itself rather then a view finder offset from the lens.  Because of this design a DSLR camera cannot display a live preview on its LCD screen.  Until the shutter is released a mirror that directs the image from the lens up inside the viewfinder prism blocks the CCD from the lens image (as well as a shutter block).  DSLR cameras are on the Professional end of the spectrum. DSLR cameras use interchangeable lens systems allowing an infinite choice of lens options.

Consumer Grade Digital Camera-   This type of camera uses and electronic shutter (turning the CCD on and off is often the shutter mechanism).   This class of digital camera can display live images from the CCD and can also record low resolution video (typical 640 x 480 @ 15 or 30 fps)  Consumer grade digital cameras have fixed lenses that cannot be removed from the camera however accessory lenses may be available that slip over and enhance the abilities of the built in lens.   Fisheye and wide angle lens accessories are most common.

Digital Video Camera-   This is a dedicated video camera that can also provide medium resolution still images.  Digital Video cameras are optimized for video and that is what they do best.  Medium resolution/ high definition images at fast frame rates with anti vibration technology defines this class of camera.



Remote Control Systems

Cable release-      The most basic form of remote control.  A solid cable pusher assembly pushes the shutter button from a distance.

IR-  Much like a cable release but nothing like a cable release.  This is a simple shutter release device without the cable.  A Inferred Remote control will trip the shutter or perform self timer operations.

Wired Remote Automation- With a digital camera it is possible to remote control every function of the camera from advanced image quality settings to remote fire and time laps photography.   When the camera is tripped the image is delivered directly on screen of the remote control computer system.  This type of control is common with most mid to high end DSLR yet manufactures are now including this type of functionality with the consumer grade cameras as well.

WiFi- Now offered at all levels this term refers to the remote wireless transmission of a digital image from the camera to a remote laptop or desktop computer or Network WiFi access point.   This type of communication can be found utilizing FTP as well as proprietary protocols for file and image transfer.  Complete camera automation is possible via WiFi radio transmission and several manufactures have implemented image capture software over WiFi and cabled connections.


Camera Mounting

Best mount-  Your hands.  due to airframe vibration it is not practical to physically mount a camera to your airframe.  The airframe vibrations will result in VERY blurry images

Second option Vibration damping mounts- Used in the motorcross world these tiny clamp mounts have vibration damping properties that aid in Vibration Reduction but do not eliminate the issue.


Camera settings- This is all stuff you do on the ground !!!!

A fast shutter speed-  Try to obtain a shutter speed around 1/500th of a second.

  A fast Lens-  Meaning a lens that has an effective aperture around f /2.8

Correct White Balance setting- Its a given in aerial photography.  Set your wb to Sunlight or cloudy depending on the conditions.  DO NOT use a automated WB setting as we know our light source so the programmed value for daylight is best.

High speed continuous shot mode- Most Professional grade DSLR's and higher end consumer grade cameras have a setting to optimize the camera for a single shot mode or a continuous shot mode.   For aerial Photography as you bank around your subject you may want to record multiple images in rapid succession. This provides a shot of the subject from many angles.

Remote Controls-  If you are remote controlling your camera from a laptop make sure the remote camera is set to the correct communication modes for remote control operation





Photographer  Background    Collection links
Christopher  Utter failed photography 101 in college webshots pages
Bill Rudock This is the site for Bill Rudock, award winning, nationally acclaimed photographer, licensed pilot, experienced mountain climber, and certified scuba diver .  This guy can teach you to fly and shoot amazing images.
Bill Fortney Author and UL pilot Bill Fortney and the making of America From 500 Feet
Scott Price Amazing Kasperwing Platform Aerial Photography Scott does not bill himself as a professional photographer yet his images are among the best I have ever seen.   Scott has a good instinct for when to fire the camera without looking through the viewfinder.  Scott is an artist in his composition and attention to detail Scott Price