Doors Off Helicopter Photo Flight

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I took a photo flight on FLYNYON with Claire and David last October during the day. See the photos here. We wanted to try a blue hour shoot and waited for the weather to get  warmer so the doors could be off for the flight.

We finally got to take that ride on March 15. We took off right at sunset from Kearny, New Jersey and the light changed dramatically during the half hour flight. I took my Sony A7Rm2 with Zeiss Batis 25mm f2.0 and also rented a second A7Rm2 and FE 55mm f1.8. I ended up using the 55mm lens most of the time. We weren’t sure about the best camera settings to optimize our shots. I decided to shoot manual with auto ISO capped at 6400. I set the 55mm to f2.5 and the 25mm to f2.8 to get a bit more depth of field and sharpness. Both cameras had shutter speed of 1/200 and AFS with wide AF mode.

The ride had quite a bit of vibration, motion and wind. If I did this more often, I probably would be able to slow down the process and recognize where I could increase or decrease shutter speed or aperture.  Early in the flight, when there was more residual light in the sky, we could easily have shot with higher shutter speeds without going to very high ISOs. When it got darker, I reduced EV on both cameras, which compensated for some of the brightly lit buildings in Manhattan. This also kept ISO lower. Overall, 1/200 only gave me a success rate of about 15% with shots in sharp focus. That sounds low and I’m sure can be improved with more experience, but I took a lot of shots and still got a lot of keepers.

With the negative EV compensation, ISO never exceeded 3200 and that only happened near the end of the flight when it was darkest. Most of my shots had ISO under 2000.

I’d definitely like to do this again.

A gallery of shots from the flight is here.

 

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