Saturday, April 29, 2017

Different Views

The question I had was: Can I get a good photograph by pointing a GoPro Hero3+ down from my airplane.  First some background.

I fly a 1946 Stinson 108, which is a great airplane for doing slow aerial photography.  Major reasons are that it is slow, and it is very stable. There is a reason it was called a Station Wagon, it flies like a station wagon drives.  It's a great airplane for doing sight seeing from the air.

However, when I have approached doing photography from this airplane, it was difficult to get downward views because the wing struts would get in the way. So I always shot oblique shots from the window, which opens by the way. 

I decided to try an experiment: Attach a GoPro Here 3+ to the strut pointing straight downward. Set the GoPro to take a photo every 5 seconds. Then fly to places I thought would make good photographs.

In order to pull this off, I wanted to reduce glare as much as possible, but I didn't have a good idea of where there glare would be coming from. I attached a circular polarizer to the GoPro, and didn't really adjust it. It would reduce the glare from some direction, but it wouldn't increase it from any direction. I figured that was a win.

The GoPro was attached to my strut using a CloudBase Engineering mount, the Filter was attached using FotoDiox modifications, and I took off from Watsonville Airport

Most of the time it was just flying looking for interesting things to take a photo with.  Since the GoPro was set to take a photograph every 5 seconds, I aligned myself to be flying over for at least 5 seconds.  It's a gamble on exactly how it would turn out.

I knew that Elkhorn Slough had some interesting patterns feeding the main river, so I flew there last as I was coming in to the landing pattern at the airport.  The small tributaries in the photo make it almost an abstract fractal design.

All in all, it worked out well.  Every 5 seconds seems to be a reasonable interval, though with a larger memory card every 1 second would work better. Depends on how much time I want to spend culling photos.

Obviously this could be done with a drone, to a point. These photos were taken from 1500 feet above the ground, drones are not supposed to fly that high.  For me, doing this from an airplane makes much more sense, especially since I already own the airplane and have the correct training.

I look forward to experimenting more with this, and branching out where I photograph from the sky.