When you are soaring through the air on an exciting helicopter tour, you will have the opportunity to take some truly amazing photos from your high flying perspective. Whether you are soaring above Ayers Rock in Australia, the Statue of Liberty in New York or the glittering Las Vegas strip, you will be able to snap some incredible bird’s eye view shots.
In order to ensure that you get the best possible photographs during your helicopter tour, here are some helpful tips:
Book with the Right Tour Company
Make sure that you choose a high quality helicopter tour company that will offer you a great experience. They should be able to offer you a good seat in a helicopter with large windows, so that you can get a good view. Also, make sure that the pilot will spend enough time flying over the landmark you want to photograph and that they will fly past it in both directions so that you can get a clear shot no matter which side of the helicopter you are sitting on.
Organise Your Gear Before You Go
There will be very little space to maneuver once you are strapped into your seat and in the air. Once you have all of your photography gear organised you should strap it down. You will not be able to change lenses once you are in the air, as the helicopter will be tilting so you don’t want your lenses and other photography gear to be rolling around.
Clipping your camera and your gear to your belt loop with a length of cord and a carabineer works very well. Make sure that the settings are set before you leave and that your memory card has plenty of room. It’s not a good idea to bring a brand new camera, as you will not know how to change the settings quickly.
Wear Dark Clothing
When you are on a helicopter tour you should be wearing dark clothing from head to toe, as light clothing will show up in the reflection in the window. Even though you might be in a hot climate such as Nevada or Hawaii, consider wearing dark coloured long pants. Many helicopter tour companies will have black t-shirts you can borrow if you show up wearing light colours.
Get Rid of the Door
If you really want to get the best possible shots from the helicopter, consider going for a ride in which they take the doors off. There are a few helicopter companies that will do this, and it’s the best way to get the highest quality photos without any risk of glare from the windows. For example, there are helicopter tours in Hawaii that will allow you to fly over an active volcano with the doors off so that you can feel the heat coming from the molten lava.
Bring a Circular Polarizer
This photography accessory will allow you to get more saturated colours and better skies. As the helicopter changes direction you will need to keep turning it to reduce the reflections on the window. However, one disadvantage is that the circular polarizer is dark and will require you to use a higher iso – which will increase grain but is a better option than a blurry photo.
Your Medium Range Zoom is Probably the Best Lens.
The best option for a zoom lens is 24-70 equivalent, but you will likely shoot closer to the 24mm range. You can also use a zoom lens that goes down lower than a 24mm, although you will have to be careful not to let the rotor blades get into the photo. A close second is a wide angle zoom like a 16-35mm though you have to be careful of getting the helicopter in the picture.
Watch Out for the Blades and Skids in Wide Shots
Be aware of the position of the blades and skids when you are framing your shot. Sometimes when you are taking wide shots you will get the blades in the top of the shot, which can take away from the image. You can try taking a series of high speed images and it is likely that one of the shots will not have a blade in it. It’s a timing issue, but generally in a series of quick fire images there will be one in every 8-10 that are free from blades.
Don’t Brace Yourself
If you try to steady your camera by bracing it against the helicopter, the vibrations of the helicopter will shake your camera. Keep the camera from touching any part of the helicopter and you will get a better photo.
Communicate with the Pilot
The pilot wants you to have the best possible experience, so if you need them to hover for a few more seconds in that same location so that you can get the perfect shot don’t be afraid to ask. You can even let them know in advance about which photos are most important to you, so that they can make sure they spend plenty of time over those landmarks.
Keep these tips in mind for better photos on your helicopter tour! Most of all, don’t be too focused on take a photo that you forget to enjoy the moment and savour this amazing experience!