Aerial photograph of Great Falls, Montana. Copyright, Darrin Schreder

Aerial Photography and Videography

I am proud and honored to provide  aerial photography for Calumet Refining Company – the local oil refinery in Great Falls, Montana – for the last 3 years. The refinery uses my photography for outside as well as internal marketing for the company as well as to provide local fire and law enforcement images to keep on file as reference in case of emergency. The photographs are often blown up to 2.5′ x 3′ for display, so the images I provide must be tack sharp and properly exposed to show as much detail as possible. To provide images of that size, I shoot with a DSLR camera from a fixed wing aircraft. My pilot is extremely experienced and is always able to put me in the exact place to capture the image I’m trying to shoot.

Aerial Photography From A Fixed Wing Aircraft.

Shooting aerial photography from a moving aircraft is a challenging process, both technically and aesthetically and also requires a fair amount of pre-planning and coordination. For example, In the case of photographing a refinery, the company needs to know when and for how long there will be a plane circling around the plant. Failure to do so can create a situation that you just don’t want to deal with. You also need to work out in advance what images you need to capture and the best way to get them all done in as timely a fashion as possible. Discussing the plan ahead of time with your pilot will pay dividends. You will typically pay your pilot by the hour. Fuel and the pilot’s time is expensive so having a well thought out plan will save money for you and ultimately your client.

When thinking aesthetically, the altitude at which you shoot from can have a huge affect on the success of your image. We all know that shooting in the morning and evening are the prime times for light. But if you are shooting water like the image above, you also need to be at the exact altitude in relationship to the height and angle of sun to make the water of the river look blue. If you are too high or too low or the sun is at the wrong angle in relationship to you, the water will look green or brown. Then, while of finding that perfect altitude and angle of the sun, you also need to find the perfect spot to shoot your subject from – all the while bumping through the up and down drafts and prevailing winds as you fly by your subject at 150-200 miles an hour.

Experience is key in everything. And hiring an experienced aerial photographer will make your project successful and as inexpensive as possible. There are a lot of variables that need to be addressed including which platform is better suited for the project. The use of UAVs or drones can greatly decrease the expense of an aerial photograph or video but it also comes with its limitations. If you are thinking of including aerial photography or aerial videography to your next project, give me a call and let’s create something special.