Desert View Aerial Photography captured construction work for a cause on an early Saturday morning. True to their motto ‘NAWIC
Of all the elements that make up a great photograph, lighting is probably the most important. Especially in aerial photography. Great subject matter and composition are certainly necessary also, but if the lighting is not right, the shot won’t be perfect. Quality of light is the key to making a truly stunning photograph. This is especially true when photographing outdoors or from a moving airplane or helicopter. Finding the right time of day for the best light should be planned out when the photographer is mentally composing and creating the image they want to capture with each particular subject matter. And there is a natural outdoor lighting solution that makes outdoor and aerial photography images exude warmth and detail. It is the “Golden Hour” of daylight. This time is roughly one hour after sunrise, and one hour before sunset. These times of day, sometimes called the magic hours, are considered by many photographers, both professional and amateur, the very best time of day to capture the optimum outdoor light available. Many professional photographers will only shoot outdoor work in the golden hour time frame.
The natural light in the golden hour is a warm light that casts less harsh shadows than at other times of day when the sunlight is brighter and more intense. Golden hour sunlight is softer and warmer, hence less contrasts on the subject matter. The benefit of this is that the details in the shadows of the subject matter are not lost in a harsh dark shadow, but show more detail and depth in the image. Golden hour aerial photography takes very serious and extensive planning on the part of the photographer. On the ground, a photographer can steady the camera on a tripod to allow for the longer exposure times that may be necessary using golden hour light. Taking photos from a moving airplane or hovering helicopter requires a well thought out strategic plan by the photographer as there are many more variables that affect the outcome of the shots. A tripod is not an option in aerial photography. One of the challenges of golden hour photography is that the light changes very quickly at that time of day. If the photographer is not solely focused on what effect that change of light has on the subject matter, the perfect shot may be missed because the light changed before the shutter was clicked. This is especially true in aerial photography because of the added element of a moving craft and coordinating with a pilot to position the craft where the photographer needs it to be to capture the shot at the exact right lighting moment. However, when the planning and preparation are done well, and the photographer and pilot work as a finely tuned machine, golden light aerial photography can produce amazing images and results. Softer lighting and the unique angles and perspectives offered by aerial photography can really make subject matter like buildings, skylines, landscapes and landmarks eye popping to the viewer.
Tips for Aerial Golden Hour Photography
1) PLAN ahead. The photographer and pilot need to map out the flight plan prior to take-off to ensure a safe and time-efficient photo flight. Weather is always a factor in aerial photography and needs to be considered in golden hour photography as well since heavy clouds can result in the loss of that extraordinary light. To help in the planning process an online tracker (http://www.golden-hour.com/) can be used to calculate the exact golden hour in a particular area.
2) GYRO-STABILIZER is a must. In addition to using an Image Stabilized (IS) lens, a gyro-stabilizer is an invaluable tool to steady the camera for sharper photographs.
3) EXPERIMENT with camera settings. Work in manual mode not auto and be creative. Depending on the time of day, morning or evening, of your photo flight and the effect you want to achieve, here are some setting options:
A.M.: Shutter: 1/800 sec; f-stop: f/9; ISO: 320 or 400
P.M.: Shutter: 1/30 sec; f-stop: f/22 or f/16; ISO: 400
4) SHOOT many pictures. Since sky/light conditions change so quickly during the golden hour, scenery can look immensely different in a short period of time. Make the flight worthwhile and snap away for a full spectrum of effects.
So take to the sky and enjoy this beautiful time of day to be an aerial photographer!
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A great photo like any art will tug emphatically at your heartstrings. The use of light in photography has a