Take a camera up in a plane or helicopter and shoot! Well yes in a nutshell that is about all there is to it! But what can take your images from “another” aerial to another level? What I want to discuss are some of the starting points, setting yourself up for success and not wasting a flight/time/money by not being prepared. There are a number of things you can do that will have you prepared for most scenarios, leaving you the maximum time for shooting fantastic aerial photography. Not only have I learnt from making mistakes, I have learnt valuable lessons from other amazing Australian photographers the likes of Christian Fletcher, Tony Hewitt and Peter Eastway of the ND5 Collective who have done numerous fine art aerial exhibitions.

Portrait of a Sand Dune Landscape Photography


  • Spares, spare, spares! Take spare batteries and a spare camera for those times when things stop working….or you battery is flat from taking 1000’s of photographs!
  • Focus? Manual focus to infinity before leaving the ground! Use electrical tape or similar to hold your focus ring securely in place during the flight. Take the time on the ground to focus on infinity with a tripod.
  • Focal length? If you want a bit of flexibility use zoom lens both the 24-70mm and 70-200mm would cover most scenarios. I personally take prime lenses either a 50mm, 80mm or 110mm for maximum quality.
  • Shutter Speed Critical for a sharp image is a high shutter speed, try and keep your shutter speeds as high as possible. I would normally aim for 1/1000s and above, there is always an element of tradeoff between shutter, aperture and ISO find the optimal settings for your camera.
  • Angles? What I’m referring to is the angle at which you shoot, some angles can have strange effects on perspective. Try to shoot directly down to reduce the risk of strange perspectives and post production nightmares.
  • Focus again… But this time I’m referring to your mental focus :) keep your eye on what is coming up and be prepared for those amazing shots!
  • In-flight review! Check your images a couple of times throughout the flight for focus and exposure, make sure you are nailing it! Don’t wait till it’s too late and you are back on the ground!!
  • Research! Research! Research! Know where you are going and what you want to shoot. Google Earth is your friend!
Four Winds Landscape Photography