The Dos and Don’ts of Aerial Photography

Fly high and touch the sky with this aerial photography guide. All photographers, be they amateurs, intermediate, or advanced will acknowledge that there’s nothing more sublime than a photo taken from high up in the air. Whether it’s by drone, by helicopter, or by small plane, aerial photography paints the world from the perspective of the gods. You can now see the clouds gathering, the crowds forming, and the smoke and dust rising.

Magic takes hold of everything, and the new perspective opens up a better understanding of the world. When everything, including cars, look just like ants busying about the ground in a swarm, you start to get a different worldview, realizing just how tiny you are in the whole grand scheme. With aerial photography, you still get a sense that you can become bigger, that somehow you can rise above and see the world for what it is. We’re here to show you how to get that feeling.

aerial photography tips

We’re going to present you with a run-down of tips and tricks, dos and don’ts of aerial photography, aerial landscape photography, helicopter photography, kite aerial photography and drone aerial photography. This is so that the next time you’re searching high and low for aerial photos, you’ll know exactly what to do.

Aerial Photography Things to Do

Look for Inspiration

The next time you go searching for subjects to photograph with a drone, one of the best tips is to ask a professional. If you don’t know one, find your inspiration online. Many well-known photographers share their work on their social media accounts.

Bryan Daugherty and Colin Landforce are two of the most talented aerial photographers. Both of them are from Portland and each has an active Instagram account. Take a look at their work and find unusual angles to shoot your own photos from.

Plan ahead

When using a quadcopter or a camera attached to a kite to snap a vintage photo of Florida or Miami, you need good plans. If you show up or fly your device over Seattle on a whim, you’ll probably end up with a bunch of bad photos and not much to work with. A good idea is to look for examples on Google Images. You’ll see how professional photographers approached a certain angle. The next time you want to photograph Hawaii at night or during the day, you’ll know how to do when your drone is high up.

aerial photography inspiration

Become Friends with a Pilot

Pilots make great teachers, especially if you want to polish your aerial photography skills. They’re more than happy to help and they offer their services for free in most cases. If you don’t have a relative or a friend who’s a pilot, you can look for a flight group and join it. Maryland, Texas, Dallas, Denver, Utah, Cincinnati, Boston, and Alabama are only 5 of the places which have such dedicated groups.

Learning from pilots and working together with other photographers is a sure proof way of expanding your knowledge of the concept of aerial photography.

Familiarize Yourself with Your Camera

Professional photographers will tell you that getting to know your camera is key. Before taking up photography as a business, you have to test different devices with different prices. GoPro cameras make good equipment to play with. Learn the settings, experiment with the focal length and all the other options.

aerial photography camera

Lighting conditions, exposure, and especially focus are extremely important when it comes to aerial photography. The GoPro Solo is an ideal model to test out all these details.

Make a List of what You Want to Photograph

It’s essential that you know beforehand what kind of photos you wish to take. As soon as you’ve arrived at the place you want to have your photoshoot at, make a couple of mental notes. The objects you’ll be focusing on can be anything, from a great-looking tree in Phoenix to a historical building or a brand new building in San Francisco. After you’ve looked around, you’ll feel more organized and ready to take amazing photos.

Google Maps is Your Friend

If you want to see how a terrain looks like from above, Google Maps is the perfect instrument. This tool uses different devices to show features and anomalies. A UAV is one of them. You’ll get a good look at Los Angeles from a real perspective. You can then decide whether you want to take an aerial+B2: B35 photo of it or choose Chicago instead.  A lot of companies use Google Maps when they scout for locations for their buildings. Aerial photography works just as well.

Now that we know the dos of aerial photography, time to look at the don’ts.

Aerial Photography Things to Avoid

Don’t Disable the GPS Mode

When the GPS mode on your drone or helicopter is off, photos will lack stabilization. The definition of a good shoot includes the stabilization part. Before you fly over St. Maine, San Diego, Cape Cod, or North Carolina, remember to enable this mode. Do the same if you plan on visiting the North Pole for one of your photography jobs.

aerial photography gps

Once you know more about your location, make time to fly there. Remember to let go of the quadcopter’s controls and allow the GPS mode to do its job.

Don’t Forget to Check the Weather

Sometimes, even intermediate and professional photographers forget to look at weather reports. When you want to shoot an aerial view of St. Louis or your vacation estate in the Midwest, it’s important to know what kind of weather you’ll have. If the winds are strong, you won’t get a steady shot. Our recommendation is: if you want a photo of Lake Michigan, it’s best if you look for clear weather.

Don’t Forget to Enable Night Settings

Fancy shooting New York, Tampa, or Atlanta at night? Results will be astonishing if you use special lighting accessories. Quadcopters are equipped with front lights that turn dark photos into very bright and shiny ones. Lighting is important especially if you want to take photos during sunset. With these accessories, Sacramento and Austin by night will look fantastic.

aerial photography settings

Don’t Use Any Old Camera

Drones work with both basic and professional cameras. Even so, aerial photos of Philadelphia or NJ will look better with a powerful device. The latter should have the following:

  • low light capacity;
  • 10MP+;
  • strong overall resolution;
  • higher frames per second for video;
  • strong view modes.

Be ready to spend more on a powerful camera if you want the best results.

Don’t Work with Just One Battery

Having more than a battery ready or inside your device of choice lets you shoot more stills. Not only that, but you have extra time to set up photos. You can also explore more of your surroundings.

aerial photography battery

These were our dos and don’ts for aerial photography. Tick them off your list before taking photos of Minnesota, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, or any other state with a drone or small helicopter. Buy a powerful device if you don’t want to end up with bad photos.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

5 Pro Point-and-Shoot Cameras You Might Want to Use

Come, now: point-and-shoot cameras are not for professional wedding photographers such as yourself, are they? If you just had that thought, while reading the title of the article, you probably haven’t been in the business of photography for too long. You might think that owning a DSLR alone will automatically qualify you as a professional wedding photographer. The truth is that both those statements are false and there are some great, pro point-and-shoot cameras out there, which even Pulitzer-prize winning photographers use. Which brings us, in turn, to our next point: that sometimes it pays off to use point-and-shoots, even for wedding photography, or other types of professional photography. Without further ado, here are 5 such cameras, recommended by the professionals themselves.

Nikon COOLPIX P7000


The P7000 is one of the pro point-and-shoot cameras on our list because it’s got great video abilities, matched by DSLRs (24fps). Many photographers who shoot portraits, or other types of studio photography, have been known to use this cute little camera for shooting behind-the-scenes videos, which merge seamlessly into the final video, without any noticeable compatibility issues in terms of frame rate. If you also add a shoe-mount shotgun microphone, you can actually shoot great videos, interviews, or any other type of similar material at great quality. Some also use the camera for stills and appreciate its optical viewfinder.

Ricoch CX5


Both the Ricoch CX4 and the Ricoch CX5 make the list for pro point-and-shoot cameras that some photogs like to use from time to time, mainly because they shoot video at 2/2.5 per second. One other aspect of this family of cameras, which makes them very versatile, and also suitable for professionals, is the quality of the images they produce in several modes. According to some, they’re great for macro shots and can produce reasonably good tele shots. The video, which is shot at 1280p also tends to look quite good, even though the quality of the audio isn’t up to par (it tends to lag, at times).

Leica D-LUX 4


All right, so Leicas are not regular cameras in any respect, starting with their history, the kind of quality they are able to produce, but also their (often hefty) price tags. However, it should be said that the Leica D-LUX 4 is one of the truly amazing pro point-and-shoot cameras on this list, even if it’s one of the pricier ones. It’s compact in size, looks great, and makes for an awesome travel companion – if you do travel photography or like to shoot on the go, it’s hard to beat this little gem. It also requires no accessories, in order to produce great photos.

Fujifilm FinePix X100


The Fujifilm FinePix X100 is not the easiest of the pro point-and-shoot cameras to work with, since it’s a bit complex, in terms of manual functions. It’s got lots of buttons and menus and it might take you a while before you figure out how to properly expose a picture. On the downside, it doesn’t always get the focus quite right and it can also take some time before it finds the focus. In other words, it’s not the world’s best camera for impromptu shots. However, if you’re into wedding photography, then you’re probably planning out shots ahead anyway, which means you might find some use for this camera.

Sony NEX-5N


This pro point-and-shoot camera can be successfully used for shooting portraits, especially if you also add the NEX-5N Electronic Viewfinder, as well as some of the dedicated lenses from Sony. For portraits, the results it manages to achieve are very close to professional cameras, even though this one is comparatively tiny, lightweight, and extremely easy to use.

How to Choose a Makeup Artist for Wedding Photography

Choose-a-Makeup-Artist-for-Wedding-PhotographyPortraiture and wedding photography are definitely the two photo niches in which you can’t possibly do without the presence of a professional Makeup Artist (or MUA). Now, the problem with knowing how to choose a makeup artist for wedding photography is similar to finding a good photog for a wedding. Just like anyone with a camera believes they can pull off a great wedding shoot, so anyone with a makeup palette is convinced they know all about professional makeup. Hint: they don’t. If you want to see great results and happy clients, you need a pro MUA, and here’s how you go about finding and hiring one:

1. Go to Model Mayhem

Aspiring pro photographers, who dabble in either portraiture, fashion photography, fine art, wedding photography or anything that has to do with setting up a setting that also involves people, need to know Model Mayhem. This is a great platform for finding models and MUAs, irrespective of your skill and experience level. If you’re just starting out, you can help the MUA build their own portfolio, while you also improve yours, through TFP (trading for pictures) instead of paying them for the work. If you’re a more experienced photog, seeking to improve their business, choose a makeup artist for wedding photography who’s worked with a modeling agency. Try to find someone who is not only like-minded, but similarly experienced.

2. Choose a makeup artist for wedding photography who is great

While there’s no such thing as the perfect MUA, a great wedding photography makeup artist does need to tick off a few qualities on a checklist. Here are some things to look for in an MUA:

–          Punctuality. Nothing spells professionalism (or lack thereof) more in this business than respecting meeting times and deadlines.

–          People skills. If you want to choose a makeup artist for wedding photography in particular, then you need to look for someone who understands they’re not working with professional models. They’re working with real-life, nervous, often stressed out couples to-be.

–          A flair for branding. And not just their own. The best MUAs are both adaptable and pour their own vision into each shoot. This means that they understand and respect your own brand of wedding photography, while also pitching in their flair and skills.

3. Gauge your chemistry with your MUA of choice

In fact, let’s take the above pointer one step further: as you work with more MUAs, find a few of them (three or four, let’s say), with whom you’ve got chemistry. Chemistry, in this case, can be defined as similar work ethics, similar creative visions, and respect for each other’s skill and experience. It also has a lot to do with basic human interaction: if the two of you generally get along and can share a few laughs, then you have yourself a winner. We can’t possibly stress how important this is. The last thing you want is a meltdown between you and an MUA during an (already charged) wedding shoot.

4. Create a money-making wedding photography team

As you evolve and your wedding photography business progresses, make sure to stay as consistent as possible, in terms of how you choose a makeup artist for wedding photography. Work with the same people as often as you can, if you’ve found some who meet your standards and the above criteria. Have a go-to list of MUAs that you know you can rely on and book for shoots. This way, you can have the comfort of knowing what to expect, in terms of makeup, so you can go ahead and focus on your share of the work.

Create Great Wedding Cinemagraphs in 15 Steps


Image via PhotoJojo

What are cinemagraphs, you ask? Why, what a question! Essentially, they’re Graphics Interchange Format files, better known as .gifs. You’ve seen them all over your favorite entertainment websites online and you can even make them with nothing more than your smartphone these days, since, of course, there’s an app for that. However, there’s also a professional way to create great wedding cinemagraphs that will bring those unforgettable moments to life.

How to create great wedding cinemagraphs: A checklist

You’re going to need a camera that shoots video, a tripod, a video editing program and one version or another of Adobe Photoshop. And, of course, props, a model or several, and, most importantly, ideas for cinemagraphs.

#1. Plan out your scene. Shoot for subtle motions, moments and movements. In contrast, the rest of your scene should look great when still. Finally, aim for something that looks good when looped.

#2. Set up the camera as solidly as you can on its tripod and shoot away. You need 10 to 20 seconds of video tops.

#3. Make sure you’re shooting in the right format for Photoshop, i.e. either MOV or AVI.

#4. Import your video into Photoshop. You’re going to import the frames of the video into layers, and while more layers make for a smoother animation, anything above 100 layers is probably too much to work with.

#5. Check out the video frames, now imported into separate layers. Make sure you have all the layers you need.

#6. Go to Windows/Animation, to see the layers as actual frames in an animation. Play the animation to identify the moment you are going to be animating next.

#7. Once you’ve found the frames that display the portion you want to see animated. Bear in mind that some of the smoothness of the end .gif is going to be lost after you’ve deleted some of the layers, so choose them wisely.

#8. Choose your Alpha layer. That’s going to be the one layer that stays unchanged in the end .gif. duplicate it and place it over the other layers in the Layers window.

#9. Next, start creating movement in order to actually create great wedding cinemagraphs. This means that you need to start editing the Alpha layer with the aid of vector masks. These masks will effectively do away with the elements that are still in the Alpha layer, but that you want animated in the final version.

#10. Test out the animation, after you’re done masking the portions you want animated. Set the animation to loop Forever, then press play. Make note of any further edits you need to make, so as to make the movement as smooth as possible.

#11. Make sure your loop is smooth. There are several ways in which you can achieve this. One is by adding the Alpha layer plus the very first animation layer, right after the very last layer in the animation. Simply duplicate the last layer, then change what layers appear in it in the Layer window. For more complex animations, you’re going to want to loop some very specific frames in your Animation, that will help make the motion transition smoother.

#12. Color your .gif. .gif files unfortunately can’t hold as much color information as regular pictures, so you’re going to want to use an effect that works well with less data. You can either use a preset Photoshop action for a specific color effect, or colorize all the layers with a specific Photoshop mask.

#13. Save your final .gif in a resolution that’s suited for the web, i.e. not very large. You’re going to want your clients to show it off online and you’re also likely to showcase it in your portfolio. The typical resolution is 72 pixels/inch.

#14. Save the PSD project of the cinemagraph, then Save for Web & Devices.

#15. Enjoy the fact that you now know how to create great wedding cinemagraphs and don’t forget to show off your work!

Perfect Gifts For The Photographer In Your Life

When you’re a photographer, you wind up with gifts that are somehow always related to the business. And while you’re tree can only hold so many cameras and miniature photographers, there are some really cool things that you’ll be moving to the top of your wish list this year.

Phone Lenses

What’s the one thing missing from your camera phone? The ability to have multiple lenses for every situation. Not any more, thanks to this series of lenses, Choose from fisheye, macro/wide angle and telephoto lenses – or get the series and save, plus free shipping.

iPhone Lens Dial

Like the idea of different lenses for your iPhone, but don’t want to carry all of them with you? Check out the iPhone Lens Dial. Now their conveniently in place and ready for any situation.

[Read more…]

5 Big Ticket Items Photographers Pay For, Then Seldom Use

Yesterday I announced that we had moved from our large suburban home, to an urban condo environment, decreasing our space down to one third of our large home size.

When you do that kind of downsizing, you really start looking at what you’ve put in the back rooms, in the closets, and in the garage, yet have seldom picked up since you purchased it. What’s even more distressing is the items you find in their original packaging. Did you really need it if you never even opened it?

While an occasional office supply is one thing, when it’s a big ticket item, it’s a whole different issue. Imagine what you could have done with that money if you hadn’t invested in that purchase?

As we were looking through things, listing items on Craigslist, and giving things away, we discovered 5 things that we invested in, yet seldom used.

Camera Doodads

If you’ve ever gone to a photography convention, you’ve probably fallen for the shiny object syndrome. When you walk up and down the aisles, caught up in all the sights and sounds projected straight towards you, it’s easy to fall for it. Companies promise miracles, and great tools, gadgets and doodads that will improve your photography, or help you run your business more efficiently.

So you invest in a doodad or two. Two becomes twenty. And so on. Pretty soon you have boxes in your spare closet full of shiny doodads, many unopened and untouched. [Read more…]

Automate Your Portrait Photography

This is an amazing use of photography equipment and how to automate your next portrait session.

Do You Really Need A Camera To Be A Professional Photographer?

If you’ve taken a vacation and been a tourist over the last few months, you’ve probably noticed the one thing tourists don’t take with them much anymore. A camera. Instead, they take out their phone, and start shooting away.

In fact people are starting to use their phones so much, there is even some question about the future of traditional cameras. Do we really need to lug around the big, SLR or point and shoot cameras anymore? Or are phones good enough?

I laughed this week when I came across an article College Offers Class On Cell Phone Photography. Really? My daughter is now starting the process of looking at colleges, and I don’t know if I want to spend that kind of money on a cell phone photography course.

Yet in some cases, I do agree with the professor and the needs for such a class not just in college, but also all the way down to the elementary level.

…the professor’s new class will focus not only the technical and artistic aspects of photography, but also the ethical responsibilities that come with having such a handy recording device with you everywhere you go. In other words, students need to understand “the full gravity of what’s at their fingertips and the power they can have…

While Flannery encourages students to grapple with issues such as privacy and voyeurism, professional photographer Hunter Martin will supplement by teaching traditional skills such as lighting, composition and editing.

Yep, there’s a definite need for that right now, as everyone in some way or another is a photographer. [Read more…]

Is Digital Cheaper Than Film?

What’s one of the most common misconceptions in the photographic industry today?

Digital is cheaper than film

At first glance, it sounds correct.

With a film camera, every time you capture an image, it costs you money. You have to buy the film, you have to develop the film, and you have to print the image on to paper. When we were shooting film, we found it pretty accurate to assume total costs for one image was $1.

But with digital, every time you capture an image it’s essentially free. You place the card into your computer, download it, put it online or a CD/DVD, and usually only print the images you are paid for.

So it seems like digital is cheaper than film. But the problem with that assumption is you are looking at output only. The real cost comes at the front end, or with the cameras and technology itself.

I read a great article over on Digital Work Flow, The State of Business for the Digital Photographer Preparing for 2011. In it states:

Today a basic digital set of two professional SLRs, several lenses, dedicated flashes, laptop, desktop computer, card reader, memory cards, color management and processing software, monitor, printers, storage and back up storage, will cost approximately $20,000 to $80,000 or more.

Comparatively, a basic film system would likely cost under $20,000 and would likely remain current and functional for 10 years or longer.

So here is the comparison:

$20,000/10 years = $2,000/year average cost if you’re shooting film
$50,000/5 years = $10,000/year average cost for digital

And if you’ve been in the industry for a while, you know how quickly you replace your equipment. My daughter received a point and shoot for Christmas that is more powerful than the professional camera we were shooting with 5 years ago.

Total costs need to calculate everything. It’s unrealistic to charge a client a few dollars for a print because it only cost you a dollar or two to print it out. You still have to pay for your equipment, plus other expenses like rent, salary, phone, Internet, marketing, etc. And for your experience as a photographer and as an artist.

The only way to charge what you are truly worth is to educate your potential clients on what it takes to be a professional photographer, and how to tell the difference between you and an amateur trying to make a quick buck. Will they be in business a year from now? Who knows? [We’ve had clients come back to us 8, 10, even 12 years later for prints because they know we are here.]

Want Instant Prints? Stampy Camera Design Stamps Out Images

Instant gratification pushed Polaroid into a unique niche within the photography industry. The ability to view the image almost immediately allowed a pleasure no other company could create: a way to instantly view our imagery and have a print to share.

Now, we are in the digital age where every camera has instant gratification via a small LCD camera screen. Yet there is still a problem: no print to share and pass around. If you want hard copies, you will need to upload them to your favorite lab or print them on your printer…not so instant. Designer Jinhee Kim unveiled a cool design where a digital images can be stamped onto paper almost as fast as developing a Polaroid.

Licensed by Yanko Design, the innovative product named Stamp.y is coming to life. No pricing or availability has been announced.

via Yankodesign