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Osh

 

For those other aircraft nuts out there… EAA opened the media registration for the 2013 Airventure event AKA Oshkosh!  We will be out again this summer shooting for a couple of clients.  If you’ve never been, its insane!

 

Every year as the dog days of summer begin to give up their ghosts, I always look forward to the aerial season.  Year after year as the red and yellow leaves pop around New England, we take to the skies to shoot industrial complexes, quads, and campuses.

After some real crappy weather, we finally got a chance to get up in the air and shoot in earnest.  Right on the cusp and almost missing the peak, last week we finished up some really nice flying and put some gorgeous aerial work in the can.

Even as the chill wears off from door-off heli flying, I look forward to perhaps one last late December “first snow” flight.  As always, thanks to Stephen at Blue Hill Helicopters for getting us back on the ground safe and sound!

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Sittin at MKE (Milwaukee) on the way home…

This is always my most favorite week of the year because for the past five years, I have had the opportunity to work with a media badge for a client out at Oshkosh for the EAA AirVenture Air show.

If you love airplanes, you should not miss this event as it is one of the premier events in the aviation community. No matter what catches your fancy, you can find it here!

One of the things that I was looking forward to seeing was the Kestrel Aircraft booth. I was really excited to see our film playing in their booth in its intended environment. The client was super happy with how everything turned out, and had nothing but positive things to say about our experience working together.

Im sad to see the week come to an end, but I’m ready to get home and relax for a few days…

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Have been doing a lot of aerial work lately and its been awesome!  Perfect weather, perfect ambient temps, doors off the helicopter… What more can one ask for!

Thanks to Killian and Blue Hill Helicopters for keeping us safe!

 

We just delivered the assets for our shoot up at Kestrel Aircraft in Brunswick, ME and I thought this a good chance to talk about how we shot the interview.

Kestrel CEO Alan Klapmeier

First off, I should say that this was a really cool job for me personally as the principle protagonist of this film is Kestrel CEO  Alan Klapmeier.  For those of you aircraft nuts out there, you will recognize that name immediately as the founder of the Cirrus Aircraft Corporation.   Alan was an amazing guy and a pleasure to meet.

But I digress…

Giant hangar doors provide easy load-in

Anytime I begin to light a scene, there is always a bit of head scratching.  I think for some people, the solution to problems come very easy.  For me, there is a bit of noodling about before I get everything just perfect.

As with everything, the best place to start is at the beginning, and the best beginning is to choose a location.  Things to think about here are control, sound, light, power, acoustics, access, etc… You can pick the most beautiful location in the world, but if there is a construction crew on the other side of a wall driving piles, you ain’t gonna hear a word.

 

Chris sits in for testing

 

With Kestrel, even before I got on site and took a tour of the location, I had a feeling that the best place to shoot the interview was going to be right in the hangar with the aircraft in the background.  The big concern with shooting in such a huge space like the Kestrel hangar was would we in fact be able to stop all the other work that was going on in the background?

After a quick meeting with the Kestrel team and a subsequent tour of the facility, it was made clear that we could have carte blanche and shoot anywhere we wished.  Perfect!  The hangar it was.

Door acts like a big soft box

We definitely didn’t bring enough light to fill a space this big, so we closed all the doors save one just enough to use as a background fill.  This worked perfectly and would make any Dutch painter proud!  We angled the plane to take advantage of its lines and catch the light streaming in from the side.  All that was left was to light the interview.

For this, we ended up using two Kino Flo Diva’s and one LED Light Panel.  The Divas we used for a key, and then winked in just enough Light Panel to fill in the dark side.  Below you can see a photo with and without the notes so you can get a better idea.

 

For the audio, we used two lavaliers(one wireless and one wired,) a boom mic (for safety and redundancy.)   We shot with three cameras, the Sony F3 Super 35 as “A” cam, the Sony FS100 for “B,” and the Nikon D4 for a “C” camera.   Both the “A” and “B” were fairly far away from the subject with a Nikon 180mm and 105mm prime.

In the end, it was a great shoot with a great bunch of folks.  Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to pull the day together, especially to Aaron for the opportunity to work on this film!  FYI… if you are a Kestrel fan, make sure to stop by their booth out at Oshkosh this summer.  This new aircraft is really going to be a game changer!

Chris jumps for joy in front of the original Kestrel prototype

 

(bit of a delay in posting… but worth it)  Out of the bush and safe and sound!  Thanks to everyone who made the trip successful, especially to Don and our pilot Rick for getting us in and out of the gravel bars w/out getting killed! I must say that I was pretty overwhelmed trying to land on the riverbank.  I will need much more practice before I am comfortable with off-airport landings!  This bush-pilot thing has certainly gotten under my skin… (and I know where this is going to end up)

Anyway,Talkeetna and Denali were a blast, (especially the 3 dollar taco bar and IPA.)  We will have to come back again.  After the Talkeetna, we took some personal time and headed south to Valdez (more later.)

Again, much thanks to Don and Rick.  We had a blast!

Greg, Rick, Don, Chris back at Talkeetna

Well it’s spring again here in Boston, and this usually means the aerial season has begun.  Last Thursday we launched for a late afternoon photo flight over the City of Boston.  If you are familiar with the blog, you will know that it involves some kind of air vehicle, you will have a damn hard time keeping us out of it.

As usual, we flew with Blue Hill Helicopters out of Norwood Airport.  Because the shoot was a fairly simple shoot (just photography and no cinema work) and I did not need to have the client along, I chose to fly the Schweizer 300C.  This is a small two place piston driven helicopter with a great safety record.  Besides being a nice platform for aerial work, the operational cost is very reasonable compared to something like a Bell Jet Ranger, or a Europcopter A Star which is very attractive to clients.  It’s a great way to provide aerial work without breaking the budget.

 

The photo mission took us inbound on the “Quarry” route, around the city counter clock-wise, and then out on the “Fenway” route(click here to see a cool map of the Boston helicopter routes)

Landmarks on the list included the harbor, Fenway Park, the Zakim Bridge, and the Charles River skyline.

Boston Logan was landing on Rwy 4, which made it a bit tricky as we had to stay under 300′ for a bunch of the shooting.  (In a nutshell this means that we had to fly under the commercial airliners that were landing.)

In the end, we spent about 45 min on station and got some great images.

Here is another Behind the Scenes film just off the presses… We added the end of last years aerial footage to the end of this film so it flows a bit better.

Enjoy!

We’ve been doing quite a bit of helicopter work around the country.  It really is one of my favorite things to get to do in this job.  Sometimes it’s downright scary, but when you have the right pilot, the experience really can be amazing.

When we are local, we pretty much always fly with my buddy Steven Boatwright’s outfit Blue Hill Helicopters. Blue Hill Helicopters has several Schweizer 300’s, as well as a Robinson R44.  These are a much different platform to work from than say a Jet Ranger or a TwinStar, but have their unique advantages.  (If you want to read a bit more about a what goes into a photo flight, or why we choose a particular aircraft, this is a good blog post.)

Above is a short “Behind the Scenes” film from one of our heli-adventures from the fall with Blue Hill Helicopters.

Rabbit and I after a great day with Blue Hill

Lots going here… too much really to sit down to write about now save today’s high.

We spent the afternoon doing what we do best……  Hanging out of a helicopter.  Thanks to our good friend Steve of Blue Hill Helicopters for pushing the envelope once again and getting us back safely.

skydive_favorite

I was going through some of my images from last summer and came accross one of my more favorite shoot days.  The body of work got me really excited for this summer!

The shoot was out at my friend Doug Smith’s operation called Chicagoland Skydiving Center.  I spend the day shooting, jumping, and flying in their Twin Otter.  I will be out there again to do a photo workshop this summer.  I will keep you posted on the dates, as well as try to get a post up from that day last August!

Back seat of a Bell 206 flying search and rescue in Alaska, 1999

Back seat of a Bell 206 flying search and rescue in Alaska, 1999

Tip number two… Don’t be afraid to hitch hike!

I have always been fascinated with aviation, and still get excited whenever I get a chance to set foot in a helicopter or airplane.  Even flying commercially still makes me happy.  Maybe its because its one of the few places on the planet where I can totally relax.  It has to do (I think) with the fact that I am forced to just sit in one place.  We are flying to Argentina on Monday, and I am so looking forward to the 14 hours or so I will spend in the plane.  Seriously!  People think I’m nuts…

Anyway… Here’s the tip.   When your starting out, building a portfolio from the air is inherently problematic as it is a catch-22.  You cant get jobs with out an aerial portfolio, and you cant get an aerial portfolio without getting up in a helicopter or airplane.  And frankly, who has an extra $1200.00 per hour to hire a Bell 206 to fly you around the ball park in order to get some cool air to ground shots?

So heres the trick:  Hitch hike!

Flying with "Wild Bill" into a gold mine in Alaska

Flying with "Wild Bill" into a gold mine in Alaska

Read the rest of this entry »

atis_dynamic

We tend to do a lot of aerial photography, and one of the resources we use in the preparation for a shoot is ATIS or Automatic Terminal Information Service.

ATIS is a continuous recorded broadcast of important information used by pilots to help operate their aircraft.  The most important bit of info that we need to know is the actual weather at the airfield.  Cloud ceiling, wind direction, and wind speed will all play a part on how are shoot goes.

Lots of airports these days have a telephone number you can call into in order to listen to the broadcast, and every morning before we fly, we call in and give a listen.

This gives us a heads up on the exact conditions at the airport where you will be operating from.  If you have not done a lot of flying, you may or may not realize that different airports may have drastically different weather.  Sometimes they can be very close together, but be totally different.

Read the rest of this entry »

Last month I shot some aerial footage (video and stills) for a Boston client. The client was watching the budget but wanted to get some great footage of the area in order to use as “B” roll in some films we are doing for them.

This meant we couldn’t hire a larger helicopter like a Bell 206 or have a Tyler Mount (gyro.)

The weather that day was great for the pictures, however it was pretty windy. The long and the short is we ended up flying, but the footage was shaky due to the wind.

The following clip illustrates how we were able to mitigate the shake in post production.

Thanks BTW to our friends at Blue Hill Helicopters (as usual) for the flight support

Back up in the air today, and boy was it frickin chilly!  No matter… helicopter work has to be one of the most exhilarating aspects of my business, and I am always game regardless of the air temp!

Today’s shoot was for a local Cambridge client.  We were primarily focusing on shooting video “B” roll of the Greater Boston area.  This footage will be used along with video interviews and lab “B” roll in order to give the feeling of their environment.

When I shoot here in Boston, I like to use my friend Stephen Boatwright’s outfit called Blue Hill Helicopter based out of Norwood, MA.  Blue Hill owns a couple of Schweizers, and today as we were going to be up in the air for a while, flew their C model.

prepping gear

prepping gear

The Schweizer 300C is not the perfect platform to shoot from.  It is small, slow, bumpy, cramped, and a bit scary… but what makes it so damn appealing for a photographer is that it is very inexpensive to fly.  The biggest reason for this is that the 300C is a piston driven helicopter, where the Bell 206 Jet Ranger or Eurocopter AS350 is a turbine and are dramatically more sophisticated machines.  All three are single engine airplanes, however both the Bell 206 and the AS350 can carry much more load (4+ people vs/ the 2 in the 300C) fly farther, and are more stable. Read the rest of this entry »

Last week we began to prepare for a shoot we are doing on Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers.

Richard getting excited around the Blackhawk

Richard getting excited around the Blackhawk

We will be shooting the swimmers over several days and covering them in all aspects of their work. In order for us to do the aerial component and work in the helicopters over the ocean, the Coast Guard is requiring us to complete some special training… and any time the military wants to give us some training, we are more than happy to oblige!

Discussing flight ops

Discussing flight ops

Our day (as usual) began well before sunup. Richard and I met our friend Petty Officer Luke Pinneo from the Coast Guard public affairs office and headed south to Air Station Cape Cod located on the Mass Military Reservation at old Otis Air Force Base.  I have mentioned Luke before. Luke and I met when I taught down at DINFOS. Luke is talented photographer in his own right, and he has been great to work with on this project. Read the rest of this entry »

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