Now that you know what RC Aerial Photography is and what its used for, you can begin to take aerial pictures. This article lists various tips and techniques that can help you get great results, every time.
Planning The RC Aerial Photography Flight
Consider these points when planning your flights:
- Lighting effects RC aerial photography – The Sun is the only source of light available to the RC Aerial Photographer, so the time of day and the season of the year will dramatically affect the look of your aerial photos. Generally, it is best to do RC aerial photography between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM to avoid the shadows that are cast by the setting or rising Sun. In some cases, you can use the shadows from tall buildings to create a dramatic effect in your pictures, but it can add complexity to the final result and make it harder to read. Daylight hours change with the seasons of the year, so plan to take your pictures when the sun is highest in the sky for each season. Taking your aerial pictures early in the morning will result in a colder, more blue color while taking them near sunset has the opposite effect. You will need to choose what time to take your aerial photos, depending on the desired look.
- Weather effects RC aerial photography – Check the whether before you go flying. Winds should be your primary concern, generally the less wind there is the easier flying your RC aircraft will be. Try to fly only when the winds are 10 km/h (6.2 mph) or lower. Besides the wind, you also need to check for haze. Haze consists of water droplets, suspended in the air. It is most common on warm summer days with relatively little wind. Haze severely limits visibility, and can cause your pictures to become blurred if they are taken looking towards the horizon. Color distortion due to haze is known to happen frequently depending on the time of day. Smoke has a similar effect, and can blur an otherwise good picture. Be sure to check your flying site for any signs of atmospheric interference before you attempt aerial photography.
- Equipment for RC aerial photography – Make sure that you have all the equipment that you will need with you, before you go out flying. What you will need depends on which aircraft you are using, but make sure that you have all of the basic tools, such as screwdrivers, glue, and pliers. This RC Helicopter Field Accessory Guide will give you a general idea of what you need to take with you. Some RC aerial photographers find it useful to take a laptop computer, so you can immediately see the results of your work.
Getting Great Results From RC Aerial Photography
Angles Change The Look Of Your Image
When taking RC Aerial pictures, you need to consider the angle at which the photo is being taken. There are three common angles used by Aerial photographers:
- High Oblique - Pictures taken from this perspective are taken from an angle at about 70 degrees, relative to the vertical axis. This type of picture includes the sky and the horizon, and so it is best used on exceedingly clear days. Try to take the picture at least 10 degrees off of the horizontal axis (ground), so that you don’t have too much sky in your picture.
- Low Oblique - These pictures are taken at an angle at approximately 40 degrees from the vertical axis, so that they don’t include any of the horizon or sky in the finished image.
- Vertical – Vertical images are taken with the camera pointing straight downwards. They are useful when you need to produce a map like image.
Of all of these, the high oblique angle covers the greatest area, while the vertical angle will show the least haze.
Use Sunlight To Your Advantage
Remember that the sun is your only source of lighting. Before you plan on taking any pictures, go to the area you will be photographing and look around at different times of day. This will let you know when the glare is worst, and what lighting makes the subject look good. Try to take pictures with the Sun to the back of the aircraft, this helps to reduce visible haze in the atmosphere.
How to Avoid Reflection
Reflected sunlight can spoil an aerial photo easily. Most often, sunlight is reflected by water on a lake or river. The easiest way to avoid reflected sunlight is to simple maneuver your RC aircraft until the angle of the camera towards the ground is different than the angle of the sun to the ground. On windy days it may be even more difficult to avoid water reflection, because the wind can cause small waves on the surface of the water. Try taking several pictures in rapid succession.
Wireless Video Can Help You Aim
If you are doing RC Aerial Videography, then you can most likely configure the camera to send wireless video to a base station. This can show you what you’re filming, as you film it. If you are doing RC aerial photography, then you can add a small wireless camera to your aircraft, pointed in the same direction as your still camera. If you send the video to a small laptop or television screen, then you can see a preview of each image before you take it.
Additional Memory Is Important
Most digital cameras have memory expansion ports. Getting a large memory card will allow you to take many pictures during one flight, and then choose from the best of them. If you think that you have the aircraft in a good position for a picture, take several pictures in rapid succession. Depending on your resolution, anywhere from a 128 Megabytes to 1 or 2 Gigabytes will be beneficial. Memory cards are removable, so you can take them out of the camera and download your pictures, without having to remove the camera from the RC aircraft.
Get A Book On RC Aerial Photography
Photography is an entire hobby in itself, and a thorough exploration of it is beyond the scope of this article. If you are interested in Professional RC aerial photography, or just want to know more, get a book from the library on photography and read it. Many of the techniques used in regular photography also apply to RC aerial photography, so you should become familiar with them. RCAPA.com is an excellent resource on aerial photography, with FAA information and a photo gallery.
The final part of this article will explore professional RC aerial photography, and how to be successful in it.