View Full Version : remote controlled areal photography

adrian tyler
2-Dec-2006, 12:05
i have become very interested in antique views of cities, greco's view of toledo, and especialy topographical studies like those of anton van der wyngaerde.

as a poor photographer, however, one of the constraints that i have to deal with is getting the desired vantage point, but this looks like a great tool:


limited to a small format digital camera and as a franchise comes packaged with a "driver" who is going to hold copyright.

i don't suppose anyone out there has a cheap, stable, extendable platform that'll get a 4x5 and a tripod to about 500 ft.?



Ralph Barker
2-Dec-2006, 14:20
A hot-air balloon, perhaps? Depending on your location, a local balloon pilot might offer private flights at a not-too-unreasonable price. Around here (Rio Rancho/Albuquerque, New Mexico) the range is $150-$250, depending on timing and weather. That wouldn't be remote control, however.

If fuel cost is an issue, I hear they can be powered by politicians, as well. ;)

For lesser altitudes (in the tens of feet), you might look at the Luksa extendable tripods:


adrian tyler
2-Dec-2006, 14:30
well if we could harness all the political hot air, we could get some satelitte pictures in our baloon!

nice idea though, plenty of windless days here in spain.

3-Dec-2006, 07:03

When I was at Carnegie Mellon a grad student (Cassandra Jones) was flying kites with a camera attached to them and a remote controlled shutter release servo thingy.

some of her new work is here: http://www.larramendygallery.com/artists/jones.html


might be worth it to see how she did it. further, it wouldn't be that hard to take the balloon idea and run with it, modifying a remote controlled helicopter or even a RC blimp (http://www.rctoys.com/) to do this. attaching a RC servo would take a bit of research but could work.... or make yourself a pneumatic 500' long shutter release.

man, the thought of doing this is way cool!

adrian tyler
3-Dec-2006, 09:59
well... that is some "toyshop" but thinking it through it's not just getting achieving the higher perspective and controlling a decent remote camera up there...

also studying some of those antique city/landscapes you can see both travelling panorama, and false panoramic techniques, so pretty presice navigation would be needed to get the photographic raw material.

already my lab costs are are a sorepoint in my house so perhaps on a more practical level the trick would be to find raised natural vantages... building a blimp would probably get me certified!

any budget ideas out there??

Ralph Barker
3-Dec-2006, 12:50
Looking at the RC link false_Aesthetic provided, the Draganflyer X-Pro Industrial RC helicopter runs almost $5,000 and has a payload of 1 pound. At $5K/lb, a unit able to carry an LF camera aloft might carry a hefty budget - especially if one considers a view-synchronized video feed to know when to activate the shutter on the LF camera, and the weight of a Binford 9200 automatic film-holder exchanger. ;)

That hot-air balloon ride is looking better all the time.

As a quasi-related aside, I believe there was a thread a few months ago about someone who was doing aerial panoramics with a Cirkut camera, similar to those done decades ago.

QT Luong
3-Dec-2006, 12:53
Aerial kite photography is a hobby with a (relatively) large following, but I don't think the payload and the risk to the camera make it suitable for LF.

adrian tyler
3-Dec-2006, 13:17
no, large format would seem out of the question for kite or "blimp" or other remote controlled photography. from what i can see here commercialy in spain, short of having a big budget, the best that we have is smallformat autofocus digital which comes packaged with a franchise.

looks like i have to make some friends at the "hot air" club, or do a crash hang gliding course!

certainly the hot air baloon an elegant way to work, and a great idea, as far as cameras go, a wide angle 120 with a level would surfice to make the initial shots...

9-Dec-2006, 23:25
There are a lot of people doing aerial photography. One of the more challenging types involves R/C helicopters, which are very difficult and expensive to fly without the added challenge and cost of photography ;) There are a few forums online dedicated to that hobby (R/C helis in general, not just aerial photography) - e.g., helifever.com.

Easier and cheaper methods of course involve balloons or kites, I don't know much about those. I did see a link somewhere to a large format kite project (to reproduce some famous old shot of san fransisco done in a similar fashion).

Ernest Purdum
10-Dec-2006, 09:32
I'd be concerned about vibration with a helicopter. A blimp seems tro me to be the most feasible concept.