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Shooting Aerial Photography From a Microlight Plane

Illustrative images are from a recent project shooting in the area of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Shooting photography from a microlight plane can be an exciting and unique way to capture aerial perspectives, but it's important to take certain precautions to ensure that you get the best results. Here are a few things to consider when shooting photography from a microlight plane:

  1. Safety: First and foremost, it's important to prioritize safety when shooting from a microlight plane. Make sure that you are wearing all necessary safety equipment, including a seatbelt and a helmet. Follow the instructions of the pilot and pay attention to any safety briefings or demonstrations.

  2. Camera equipment: Choose your camera equipment carefully. A camera with a high megapixel count and a good lens will be important for capturing clear, detailed images. Consider using a camera with image stabilization to reduce blur caused by the movement of the plane. It may also be a good idea to bring a backup camera in case of any issues. - I was using a Nikon D800 with 70-200m f2.8 lens

  3. Composition: Consider the composition of your shots carefully. Look for patterns, lines, and other compositional elements that will help to create a sense of depth and balance in your images. Pay attention to the position of the sun and how it is affecting the lighting in your shots.

  4. Timing: Be mindful of the timing of your shots. The best light for aerial photography is often early in the morning or late in the evening, when the sun is low in the sky. This can create beautiful, golden light that can add warmth and depth to your images.

  5. Communication: Finally, be sure to communicate with the pilot about your photography goals and needs. Let them know if you need to fly at a specific altitude or angle to get the shots you want, and be open to their suggestions as well.

Here are a few additional tips for shooting photography from a microlight plane, specifically related to photography technique:

  1. Use a fast shutter speed: To freeze the movement of the plane and reduce blur caused by motion, use a fast shutter speed. A speed of at least 1/1000th of a second is recommended. - Most of my images from the microlight flights were shot at 1/1000th or 1/2000th of a second

  2. Shoot in manual mode: Shooting in manual mode will allow you to have more control over the settings of your camera, including the aperture, ISO, and white balance. This can be especially important when shooting from a microlight plane, as the lighting and conditions can change rapidly.

  3. Experiment with angles: Don't be afraid to experiment with different angles and perspectives. Try shooting from different positions within the plane, such as looking out the side windows or even laying on the floor. This can help you to capture unique and interesting perspectives that might not be possible from a traditional aircraft.

  4. Use a polarizing filter: A polarizing filter can help to reduce glare and reflections, allowing you to capture clearer images. This can be especially useful when shooting over bodies of water or other reflective surfaces.

  5. Bracket your exposures: To ensure that you have a range of exposures to choose from, consider using the bracketing function on your camera. This will allow you to take multiple shots at different exposures, giving you more options when it comes to post-processing.

By following these tips, you can improve your technique and capture stunning aerial photographs from a microlight plane.

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