Aerial photography offers a drastically different perspective than the one you get from shooting on the ground. It includes photographs taken from aircraft, helicopters, balloons, rockets, kites, skydives, etc. It can be a rewarding, challenging and enriching experience. It can produce unique shots that look different than any other ground shot you have ever taken. Scenic flights can give you some great, memorable photos.
Below, we present over 50 amazing aerial photographs — photos shot “from above”, in the air. At the bottom of this post you’ll also find references to DIY-tutorials and further useful information about aerial photography. You can also explore other works of the photographers we’ve featured in the links at the bottom.
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Carlos Gutierrez “Lightning bolts appear above and around the Chaiten volcano as seen from Chana, some 30 kms (19 miles) north of the volcano, as it began its first eruption in thousands of years, in southern Chile May 2, 2008. Cases of electrical storms breaking out directly above erupting volcanoes are well documented, although scientists differ on what causes them. Picture taken May 2, 2008.”
George Steinmetz China from above.
Petrenko Moscow, Russia. A winter shot from an airplane.
David McNew “A firefighting airtanker drops Phos-Check fire retardant over the Gap fire as more than 1,000 wildfires continue burning across about 680 square miles of central and northern California, on July 3, 2008 near Goleta, California”.
Unknown Passing The Golden Gate Bridge.
Bret Oliver Burj Dubai construction.
Andrew Strain “Dave Fortin goes big at the 2007 Grouse Mountain Showdown Over the City, high above Vancouver, British Columbia.”
George Steinmetz “A breathtaking view from the top of Golden Gate Bridge reveals the span far below where it enters Marin County.”
ZaksterNT Night view of St.Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney
Unknown “A competitor dives from the 14 meter-high bridge over Drina river during annual high diving competition in Bosnian town of Visegrad July 12, 2008. “
NASA’s Terra Satelite Glacial lakes from retreating glaciers. “A firefighting airtanker drops Phos-Check fire retardant over the Gap fire as more than 1,000 wildfires continue burning across about 680 square miles of central and northern California, on July 3, 2008 near Goleta, California”.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand The portfolio contains literally hundreds of photos of over 100 countries shot from above.
AFP “An aerial photograph captures the plume of ashes spewed by the Chaiten volcano in Chile, on May 31”.
AFP “This September 10 image, taken by the crew of the International Space Station flying 220 statute miles above Earth, shows Hurricane Ike”.
Aurora Borealis as seen from space
Mark Tantrum Beautiful Singapore when the sun rises
Franck HDR shot of Shanghai, China
Astronaut photography China from above.
Sam Abeil “Clouds above Crater Lake, Oregon”.
Unknown “Built in 1931, the Hidden Lake Lookout sits 6890’ above the sea. It was an active fire lookout until the 1950’s. Now it is beautifully maintained by the Friends of Hidden Lake Lookout in Mt. Vernon, WA.”
Farl Archipelago of Sulu
Bblan72 Zion National Park in Utah, United States
Coolskipper Mountains of Siberia
Drhundertwasser Crops above the Great Plains, USA
Hhardwiredindustries Meandering river of northern Alberta
Ron Niebrugge Aerial view of Copper River Delta, Chugach National Forest, Cordova, Alaska
Unknown New York From Above. Mid 1930s.
Unknown “NASA Astronaut Robert L. Stewart Floats Above Cloudy Earth During an Untethered Extravehicular Activity (EVA) , February 1984”.
What makes aerial photography so challenging?
Without any doubt, aerial photography is a challenging art. Aerial photographers have to tackle many problems while shooting in the air. Photographers must deal with the effects produced by motion — not only the motion of an airplane or helicopter, but motion of the camera as well. Photographers should be equipped with cameras that have very fast shutter speeds to avoid hand shakes (motion blur) caused by airplane and helicopter vibration. Because airplane windows are made of Plexiglass, which doesn’t have the same optical qualities as normal glass, images taken through them are of inferior quality.
Also, shooting through aircraft windows presents other obstacles, such as having to shoot around your neighbor’s arm. But it can also result in some interesting images. Aerial photography totally depends on a photographer’s judgment and experience to predict and capture the proper moment. Also, being a form of outdoor photography, aerial photography depends for its success largely on the environment. Therefore, a basic understanding of the atmosphere and its effects on photography is necessary for successful aerial images. As with all outdoor photography, the aerial photographer depends on the sun to illuminate the subject. And haze further reduces contrast levels in high-altitude shots.
In many ways, aerial photography is both more and less complex than other kinds of photography. However, the skill and techniques needed to obtain good results are easily learned through careful observation and good judgment.
Further articles and related resources:
- Do It Yourself: Aerial Balloon Photography
- Pretty Blue Planet Our beautiful planet seen from the eyes of satellites.
- Tutorial on Aerial Photographs This tutorial shows you how to remove haze from an aerial photograph.
- Hot air balloon flight over St Jean sur Richelieu 360-degree aerial view of St Jean sur Richeleiu.
- Airbus A380: 360-degree cockpit view
- A View From Above
- Aerials Flickr Pool
- Above Flickr Pool
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