When you want your photography to reach new heights, it’s sometimes as simple as actually getting higher. Shooting your destination from above creates a fresh perspective on a familiar sight. Here are our top tips for shooting aerial photography.

1 LOOK DOWN

When you’re shooting down on your subject, it can flatten the perspective and highlight patterns, textures, and shapes you wouldn’t notice from eye-level. This doesn’t mean that you have to be on the 84th floor of a skyscraper; shooting from bridges or balconies works just as well. First, get yourself (safely) to the edge and angle your camera down. The more your setting looks like a miniature, model city, the better!

1/400 sec | F8 | ISO200

2 GET WIDE

One of the biggest benefits of aerial photography is fitting more of your scene into your frame. A wide-angle lens can help you shoot the full panoramic beauty below. With a deep depth of field, wide-angle lenses are able to capture both the foreground and background in focus. This helps exaggerate your perspective by making close things appear even closer and distant things look further away.

3 STAY FOCUSED

When shooting from a high vantage point, use a narrow aperture (F13 - F22) to keep focus. With a higher aperture number, more of your frame will be in focus. Shooting in aperture priority mode (‘A’ on the dial) helps you control your aperture setting. Just remember that narrow apertures let less light into the lens, causing your camera to slow its shutter speed and make your images prone to blur. Use a camera body with built-in image stabilization to counteract all camera movement and ensure every shot is crisp and clear.

1/500 sec | F8 | ISO200

4 REMEMBER THE RULES

Keep the basic Rules of Composition in mind. The Rule of Thirds is probably the most important with aerial shots. Including too much sky can weaken the impact of your land or cityscape. Place the horizon one-third of the way down your shot and keep the most compelling elements off to one side or the other. Also, lookout for leading lines to guide the viewers eyes to subjects or to tie one point of interest to another.

5 EXPERIMENT WITH ORIENTATION

Photos taken from a height lend themselves to landscape (a.k.a. horizontal) orientation, but try rotating your camera 90 degrees once in a while. Shooting in portrait will capture your scene from a different perspective. Plus, Instagram is better oriented to these dimensions. Just make sure there’s something interesting in the background, middle ground, and foreground of every shot to create a balanced composition.

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1/250 sec | F8 | ISO 200

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1/250 sec | F8 | ISO 200

6 KEEP YOUR GEAR SAFE

If you’ll be leaning from balconies, over cliffs, and out of planes, you’ll want to protect the goods! Neck straps are a great start, but we’d advise getting a safety tether for those more precarious positions. And since higher altitudes tend to be windier than lower ones, be careful to avoid any debris getting into your camera when changing lenses at higher elevations. For added protection, Olympus OM-D cameras feature Super Sonic Wave Filter technology which removes dust particles from the image sensor to give clean photos.

1/200 sec | F8 | ISO100

7 DON’T SHY AWAY FROM BAD WEATHER

Don’t be afraid if your forecast isn’t all sun and fun. Clouds add layers, drama, and dimension to your aerial scenes. If you can, look for that spot where the sun’s rays are poking through the clouds and follow them toward your subject.

Whatever your height — from a rooftop to a helicopter — shooting from a bird’s eye view captures a slice of life below. Next time you travel, set your sights high!

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