Helicopters give the best opportunity to shoot photos or film from the air. For a photographer it is a must have once in your life. Aerial filming and photo is a fun and amazing experience, especially for those of us who enjoy flying. It might be a scenic flight over your local city or maybe while on vacation. It might be for an assignment as well.
Most of all, don’t forget to lower your camera from your eye from time to time and simply enjoy the fact that you’re flying! Shooting from a helicopter can be a great experience and we hope you make the most of your time in the sky.
If at all possible, fly with the doors off. Always ask. But also realize that it can get cold with the doors off, so be prepared for the temperatures. Shooting through any glass affects the resulting image and that is why it is ideal to have no barrier between you and your subject.
Be aware of the helicopter rotor blades and skids (the ‘feet’ the helicopter stands on while on the ground) not only for your safety, but also for framing your shot. Before the helicopter takes off, judge your widest focal length before the blades or skids start to show. Once airborne, check again with some test shots.
Changing lenses without introducing dust inside the camera while the wind whirls around is impossible. Not only that, you stand a decent chance of dropping gear and never seeing it again. For these two reasons, it is a good idea to bring two cameras with two different lenses; a telephoto zoom and a wide angle zoom.
We all know communication is important and that goes doubly when photographing from a helicopter. Some units are voice activated, some require pressing a switch which can cause frustration when you realize you’re telling the pilot to hold steady and he or she can’t hear you.
While it is hip and cool to imagine yourself hanging from the side of a helicopter to get that once in a lifetime shot, chances are rather small.. And that’s why You should stay in the helicopter. The moment you lean outside the protection that the shell of the craft affords, the downdraft can be punishing and knock you seven ways to Sunday. The same goes for poking your lens out a window.
To give a sense of where you are, include some of the helicopter at times. Maybe not a blade, because they look out of place without context.
Lastly remember that helicopters vibrate. Some a little. Some a lot. And they can be bouncy or smooth depending on type of the helicopter and weather conditions.