Anyone shot from a moving helicopter?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Snap Happy, May 9, 2008.

  1. Snap Happy

    Snap Happy TPF Noob!

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    Doing the whole Vegas-Grand Canyon helo tour in a couple of weeks - takeoff is at 5:30pm, which should be pretty bright this time of year in the desert.

    Landing is supposed to be back in Vegas 3 hours later in the dimming light after sunset (sun dips below the horizon ~8pm), tour guy says by the time we're over the Strip, the lights of the strip should start to be visible and the sky is rapidly darkening.

    Anyone have any advice for getting any great shots (e.g., shutter speed/aperture combos to try)? This sunset tour is allegedly terrific for photography, and I think I should do alright in the light, but I'm worried about botching all the dusky shots.

    Any advice appreciated! Thanks
     
  2. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    From my helicopter experience I know that in some vibrations are pretty low. Not worse than on a ship with the engine switched on.
    Others however can be a shaky nightmare.

    In any case many shots will be wide angle anyway, which reduces the problem with vibration.

    The aperture can be often quite wide open since you hardly have any object nearby which you want in focus. Often there just is no foreground. Hence you do not need any extreme DOF. Wide aperture allows fast shutter speeds which again are beneficial with those vibrations.

    So as you see, as long as it is daylight you will be in a pretty comfortable situation.

    When it gets darker you will get in trouble quickly though. You have to sacrifice some IQ and get the noise of high ISO in many cases then.
    Again, if you look directly at the sunset, this is not so much of a problem since sunsets tend to be still quite bright ;)

    Depending on if you shoot through glass, a polariser might help to filter out reflections.
     
  3. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  4. randerson07

    randerson07 TPF Noob!

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    While not from full size helicopters, These guys attach SLRs and what not to RC helis and get great results.

    http://helifreak.com/forumdisplay.php?f=53

    As long as the shutter speed is fairly high it over comes the vibrations
    .
     
  5. BoblyBill

    BoblyBill TPF Noob!

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    In the Gulf War I was...












    Kidding I've never been in a helicopter nor have I been shot or shot from a helicopter...
     
  6. TamiyaGuy

    TamiyaGuy No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You'll need a very fast shutter speed to minimize camera shake. As Alex B said, you will get away with various shutter speeds depending on the helicopter you're in. Try between about 50% of a faster shutter speed than "normal" and rounded up (e.g. 1/30 with an 18mm lens or 1/50 with a 28mm lens), to double the shutter speed normal and rounded up or even more.

    One good thing about all this, though, is that there is virtually no depth of field for most arial shots. However, if you want to get all of the Grand Canyon in one shot, try stopping down the aperture to about F/8. If it's bright enough outside, you should be fine (and a lens performs at its best at around F/7-F/16 as well).

    Best of luck getting some photos, and, of course, enjoy the ride!!!
     
  7. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Use your 18-200VR in the Active VR mode and you should be fine.
     
  8. chrisburke

    chrisburke TPF Noob!

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    i've shot from a helicopter, and its really not that bad as long as your not zoomed in to much as alex mentioned
     
  9. Snap Happy

    Snap Happy TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the tips, all. I had thought nobody responded to this since I forgot to subscribe to the thread.

    :lol:

    I'll bring my 12-24mm and see how we do in sunlight. I'd like some wide, sweeping vistas. If it's a no-go, will switch to the 18-200mm VR and pray like hell that the wide-open aperture and fast shutter will be enough.

    I'm not that worried about vibration in daylight. Have shot from some pretty shaky trains (in daylight) but the evening/sunset shots have me worried. If I know this damn Nikon, it will want to take a bit too long to snap the images when dusk hits, which will actually be the prettiest time (visually) to get shots. I may have to do some quick, (literally) on-the-fly metering experiments. I'm scared that I'll have to rely on my silly little point & shoot, which is too dumb to think about setting a slower shutter speed. I press the shutter and it snaps whatever.
     
  10. My shot of the Santa Monica Pier at dusk.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Snap Happy

    Snap Happy TPF Noob!

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    yeah, that would be an example of what will have me cursing at my cameras :p
     
  12. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    oh, well for stuff like that, the best lens you've got would probably be the 50mm f/1.8. Just set focus manually to infinity, manual ISO at whatever you're comfortable with, aperture priority at f/1.8 and fire away.
     

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