RC aerial photography (RC = remote control) has gained in popularity in recent years largely
due to the availability of inexpensive cameras.
This means affordable
aerial photography is open to more people than ever before and beautiful pictures like the one below taken in Hungary can easily be obtained.
The temple in the puszta near Somogyvámos, Hungary: Photo by Civertan
There are different types of RC aerial photography systems such as pole aerial photography, aerial kite photography and balloon aerial photography depending on your
budget and intentions.
Photograph of buildings at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station built on stilts to prevent snow buildup. The picture was taken at 500 ft elevation in a plane traveling at about 100 knots: Photo by a National Science Foundation employee
If you have access to an aircraft then you might be lucky enough to get a picture like the one above - if your pilot is going near the south pole that is.
However, pole aerial photography where you mount your camera on a 30 foot pole is another matter!
Pole aerial photography is inexpensive and although
it sounds a bit weird and wacky, it is in common use by photographers who make images for selling real estate as you can get some interesting angles by going a
short way off the ground which can really help to attract customers. I will be talking more about pole aerial photography in a forthcoming section
on how to start an aerial photography business.
Aligned hay bales seen from a balloon near Chateaubriant: Photo by Steve Grosbois
Balloon aerial photography is another possibility as local airfields often organise balloon flights for small parties. The photograph above was taken from a balloon
over the French countryside. The elegant composition has been helped by the simplifying effect of taking a view from on high. Sometimes though, as in the
photograph below which was also taken from a balloon, great detail can be included as you get higher up and your viewpoint widens.
Shooting of infrastructure projects like this key road junction in Sofia, Bulgaria, is one application of balloon aerial photography: Photo by Boby Dimitrov
Kites offer another type of RC aerial photography which is often used in archeological excavations for the great overview it gives (see below). Archeologist choose the
best time of day for light so that the shadows model the land. The photograph below gives you an idea of the kind of images that are possible using
a kite and a camera. Notice the kite line in the middle of the picture.
Archaeological excavation at Tulul adh-Dhahab in Jordan taken by kite aerial photography; note the kite line in the middle of the picture: Photo by Jochen Reinhard
Here are a few more photographs taken by RC aerial photography to whet your appetite.
Gates of the Arctic in Summer - Aerial View : Photo by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Aerial photo from the Black Sea of Kavarna, Bulgaria: Photo by Boby Dimitrov
Aerial photograph of the Castle at Bajmoc, Slovakia: Photo by Civertan
Springtime overnight rains run into La Ballona Creek in this picture taken from a kite: Photo by Joelorama
Left: The New Earth from Above: 365 Days
Probably the best known photographer working in this field is Yann Arthus-Bertrand. He is an international journalist,
reporter and sports photographer who lived amongst the Masai tribe in Kenya for three years
while studying lions. It was in Africa that he discovered hot-air balloons and fell in
love with the beauty of the landscape while flying high above, camera at the ready.
In 1991, he created an agency called the Altitude Agency which is essentially an image
bank of 500,000 photographs from around the world taken by more than 100 photographers. Three
years later, UNESCO sponsored him to photograph the state of the planet from above and he
used helicopters as well as hot-air balloons to create his book Earth from Above which
sold over 3 million copies. Through his breath-taking photography, Arthus-Bertrand has created
a visual record of human impact on the planet, from the icebergs of Antarctica to the cotton
fields of India.
Read about the HISTORY OF AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY.
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