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Noah A
5-Dec-2010, 15:26
My current photographic project involves doing some aerial photography. I started the project with digital, then went 6x7cm with a Mamiya 7 and now I'm shooting 4x5 (I know, it's a slippery slope to larger formats!).

I'm trying to figure out if I can shoot all 4x5 or if I'd need to stick with 6x7 for the aerial work. I'd love to shoot all one format for consistency as well as simplicity when traveling.

Is it at all possible to shoot aerials with my field camera (a wista 45vx)? It's very rigid and has a shoe that could hold a viewfinder--but I've heard that the bellows can cause vibrations. I'm not sure if I understand why, since if the whole camera is vibrating I'm not sure why a soft bellows would make it worse. Perhaps I could add a stiffener between the back and front standard? Focus should mostly be infinity and the photos would mostly be overall views of urban areas.

I'd be shooting 400 speed color neg with a modern Rodenstock 150mm lens (or maybe 135mm). I'd be shooting from a helicopter, usually with the door removed.

I know the alternatives would be a gaoersi or a fotoman (Anyone selling one with a 120/135/150mm cone???). But since my work does involve travel, if I could get by with the Wista that would be great. I'm not doing aerials full-time, it's just a small part of the project.

Of course I would try it locally first before renting an expensive helicopter overseas, but I was wondering if anyone here has any relevant experience...

GPS
5-Dec-2010, 15:42
...

Is it at all possible to shoot aerials with my field camera (a wista 45vx)? It's very rigid and has a shoe that could hold a viewfinder--but I've heard that the bellows can cause vibrations.
...

Hmm. And the bellows is also very rigid? :rolleyes: ;)

Kirk Gittings
5-Dec-2010, 15:57
I've done a bit of aerial from planes and helicopters, mostly with Hassleblads. I can't imagine doing it without a MF or a 4x5 DESIGNED for it. Between the wind and vibrations, I don't believe you could get sharp images with any bellows camera.

Brian C. Miller
5-Dec-2010, 16:18
thread: LF from the air (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=62179), and thread: Retiring from LF aerial photography business (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=62180)

Stefan88 was doing it professionally with a modified Toyo 8x10. There are gyroscopes made specifically for stabilizing cameras for arial photography. I think that a shroud would need to be constructed to keep the wind off the camera, and then a dampening platform would be made to keep the camera stable. Stefan88 said that his mount kept the camera stable to 1/60th sec.

bsimison
5-Dec-2010, 16:44
Sounds like you need an aerial camera. Peter Gowland made some nice-looking ones. Does anyone know if his wife is selling of his remaining inventory?

Noah A
5-Dec-2010, 19:59
I guess I was just curious if anyone has actually tried to use a bellows camera for aerials. It's not a good solution I know, I was just wondering if it's workable at all.

I know the bellows isn't rigid and that it could vibrate, but unless it interferes with the optical path, would it be all that much worse than a rigid camera vibrating? Maybe it would be, that's why I was asking if anyone has tried it. Even a local test flight would cost $$, so while I will certainly test whatever solution I come up with, I'd like to have some confidence that whatever I use will work.

I guess wind would be the biggest problem.

If I were to use a rigid camera, I'd probably go for one with a helical mount so at least it could also serve as something of a backup for my wista for non-aerial work.

As I said, I'm talking about a small amount of aerial work, maybe three or four flights over the next two years. So buying a dedicated camera and carrying it across the world isn't my first choice unless it's the only option. And renting isn't a good option, since while I may only need the camera for one day per trip, I'll be traveling for a while and I don't think I could rent such cameras locally.

I'm aware of gyro systems, but again, they're not in the budget and rental would be tough for the same reasons.

I guess a fotoman/gaoersi could be useful for other things, like occasional handheld use on the ground.

I wish fotoman were still around...but since they're not does anyone have experience with gaoersi cameras? I can find very little online about them, but the quality seems iffy. The price is right, however.

engl
5-Dec-2010, 20:00
The problem is probably not that bellows cause vibrations, but rather the design of cameras that use bellows. Consider how the back and front standard are joined together, only on one side (baseboard/monorail). If you start vibrating the entire camera, the front and the back are also going to vibrate in relation to each other, same for the bellows.

The vibrations affecting the entire camera are not going to affect sharpness, moving your camera up one millimeter does not matter when shooting subjects miles away. The front standard vibrating relative the back is going to cause blur, as will any movement of camera parts relative to each other (film holders, film sheet, lens board etc.).

Second, you have the issue of wind. The bellows will be moving on its own relative to the rest of the camera, which will result in forces jerking the front and back of the camera.

The two above factors are going to make a bellows camera a lot less suited for aerial photography than a dedicated camera. You could probably improve performance greatly with two modifications. One is to add metal struts from the top of the body to the top of the front standard, which would add a lot of rigidity (fixed focus though). The second is to somehow shield the camera bellows from wind.

Jim Michael
5-Dec-2010, 21:01
I would build a custom system similar to the hyperfocal fixed focus cameras only set it up for infinity. It needn't be complicated. Lots of good ideas in the homemade camera thread.

GPS
5-Dec-2010, 21:19
...
I wish fotoman were still around...but since they're not does anyone have experience with gaoersi cameras? ...

Fotoman (the Chinese one) does exist and produces and sells cameras...

GPS
5-Dec-2010, 21:28
...

The vibrations affecting the entire camera are not going to affect sharpness, moving your camera up one millimeter does not matter when shooting subjects miles away.
...


Go take a camera with a long lens, try to hand held it and shoot with it and you will find what it does with sharpness...:rolleyes:

John Kasaian
5-Dec-2010, 21:30
You can easily adapt a handheld 4x5 Speed or Crown Graphic for aerials, just make a shield to protect the bellows from buffeting and attach via the tripod hole. The Late Peter Gowland's cameras are excellent for the job if you can find one (use plastic film holders with textured surfaces to "leak" air. It you change elevation with the film holder in place the camera acts like a giant demand valve and you can bust finger nails trying to change holders. If you can live with a wide angle lens any of those cheap "hobo" type cameras should work as well.

Sevo
6-Dec-2010, 02:08
I guess I was just curious if anyone has actually tried to use a bellows camera for aerials

I knew one guy hereabouts who extended his aerial business to architectural 8x10 birds eye views - he used a Linhof Kardan with the bellows replaced by box-shaped sheet metal spacers set for infinity.

If you want movements, you might combine a rigid front spacer with a intermediate standard and a short WA bellows at the rear. Whatever you do, you positively want to avoid having a long harmonica bellows exposed to the wind.

Daniel Stone
6-Dec-2010, 02:25
Edward Burtynsky did some work on multiple projects shooting 4x5 from a helicopter. I believe he was using a Master Technika 4x5. When you're up in the air, especially with a 400 speed film, you can just use the hyperfocal distance to gauge focus.

his normal gallery print size IIRC is 30x40 or 40x50, so it has to be sharp to go that big.

just my $.02

-Dan

Noah, thanks again for the KMV btw, I'm really enjoying the heck out of it!

Bob Salomon
6-Dec-2010, 02:28
Linhof Aero Technika 45 or Aero Technika 45 EL

engl
6-Dec-2010, 04:29
Go take a camera with a long lens, try to hand held it and shoot with it and you will find what it does with sharpness...:rolleyes:

The problem when you are shooting hand held is not movement but rotation. With a long lens, even just a tiny fraction of a degree of rotation will blur the image.

Moving the camera one millimeter, when shooting something a mile away, will have no effect what so ever on the image. There is no rotation when shooting inside a vibrating aircraft.

GPS
6-Dec-2010, 04:45
The problem when you are shooting hand held is not movement but rotation. With a long lens, even just a tiny fraction of a degree of rotation will blur the image.

Moving the camera one millimeter, when shooting something a mile away, will have no effect what so ever on the image. There is no rotation when shooting inside a vibrating aircraft.

When it comes to the movements (and rotation is one of them) there is no difference if you hand held the camera on earth or in a vibrating airplane - except that in the airplane you vibrate with it too...

Sevo
6-Dec-2010, 04:54
Vibration is the least of your concerns unless you are shooting from a photo dedicated aircraft with camera dome - in the usual improvised open doors situation there will be wind twice the strength of a hurricane dragging on the camera...

GPS
6-Dec-2010, 05:46
Vibration is the least of your concerns unless you are shooting from a photo dedicated aircraft with camera dome - in the usual improvised open doors situation there will be wind twice the strength of a hurricane dragging on the camera...

Of course. And the wind will try to move not just the camera but the hands that hold it too. Those are the vibrations to count with. One can forget the millimetres that "don't have any effects on the image"...:)

Jim Michael
6-Dec-2010, 06:12
The assumptions of long lens and wind don't necessarily hold. Slightly wide is often most useful at low elevations. Don't hold a camera outside the airframe if you can help it. And don't support your camera holding arm(s) with the airframe. If you do hold the camera outside the airframe have the good sense to tether it with some nylon webbing. It's unlikely to hit the tail rotor, but you never know.

Noah A
6-Dec-2010, 06:46
I'm very familiar with aerial work in general. I worked at a newspaper and would often shoot aerials with 35mm slrs on general assignments and breaking news. Sometimes with a 400/2.8 lens handheld. Usually in less than optimal light.

The explanation of the problem with the standards vibrating in relation to each other makes sense to me, and that seems to be where the problem would lie.

I guess I could rig up a rigid bellows to replace the normal bellows for aerial use, but I guess the most elegant solution would be a handheld 4x5 with a 120mm lens, which I think would be about perfect. It might be fun for other uses too.

I was under the impression that fotoman was out of business. Am I mistaken?

GPS
6-Dec-2010, 08:17
Fotoman went fully into Chinese hands. You can now buy the Chinese Fotoman cameras. Google it out.

GPS
6-Dec-2010, 08:20
I...

The explanation of the problem with the standards vibrating in relation to each other makes sense to me, and that seems to be where the problem would lie.

...

It's not where the problem lies. Put yourself on the top of a mountain in a stormy wind. Take your LF camera in your hands and shoot pictures. You will see where the problems lies...;)

rjmeyer314
6-Dec-2010, 08:54
The answer here has usually been to pick up a camera designed to do aerial photography. The inexpensive answer is to use an old Graflex K-20, which used 5" aerial roll film made specifically for this type of photography. The K-20 produced about 50 4x5 shots per roll. I don't know if Kodak is still making aerial film of not. You can modify the K-20 to use a 4x5 Graflex bag magazine. I have a working K-20 that I picked up for about $50 on Ebay several years ago. I also have a Keystone F-8, which is just the K-20 scaled up to 5x7. the one I have has been modified to use a Graflex 5x7 bag magazine. Cameras like this (i.e., the K-20) come up regularly on Ebay, and usually go cheap. There is also a motorized development kit to process the 5" roll film for the K-20. I have one, but I've never tested it. They don't appear on Ebay very often. I would think that using something like these aerial cameras would be preferrable to chancing tearing the bellows on an expensive view or technical camera.
See the K-20 at:
http://www.mastercameras.ru/index.php?productID=920

See the F-8 at:
http://csusap.csu.edu.au/~dspennem/photography/photographica/Fairchild.html

Drew Bedo
6-Dec-2010, 09:22
I have never done any shooting from the air.

With that said: I would think that a Fotoman system could give you the large negatives you want in several formats . . .while providing the ruggednes and regidity rewuired.

Can someone explain to me why a high-end DSLR with quality glass and vibration correction and everything else is not the best approach to aerial photography today?

Jim Michael
6-Dec-2010, 09:36
Depends on what you are trying to accomplish I suppose. I saw an interesting implementation at the Gigapan conference a couple of weeks ago. They used some mylar sleeping bags filled with He for lift and towed a camera behind a boat shooting overlapping frames that were later stitched together to form a gigapan of the beach impacted by the BP oil spill. That was all digital based imaging.

Noah A
6-Dec-2010, 09:48
The aerial rollfilm cameras aren't a realistic option for me. They're large to travel with and may look like spy equipment which is not good these days, and even if the film is available I imagine it would be expensive and hard to get. I would need portra 400 since that's what I'm shooting for the rest of my project. Not to mention processing...my labs have enough trouble not screwing up my 120/220 and 4x5. A 5" roll would surely throw them for a loop.

GPS--I'm fully aware of wind. As I said I've routinely shot from a helicopter with the door removed and a non-stabilized 400/2.8 on film and APSC digital. (This was news coverage however, I do NOT need a long lens for my current work.) But yes, I guess the wind could be a problem with the bellows so I've moved on from that idea.

I guess in the long run $1k or so for a rigid setup (fotoman/gaoersi) isn't all that bad considering some of the choppers run almost that much per hour. I was more trying to save space on my travels, but clearly it's not worth it.

Carrying an extra handheld 4x5 is no bigger than a Mamiya 7 kit (since I'll already have the holders and film for my terrestrial work). And it can serve as a backup camera as well. A rigid handheld 4x5 with a 120-135mm lens would be perfect and probably a lot of fun for other uses as well.

Thanks for setting me straight everyone!

Joseph Dickerson
6-Dec-2010, 09:52
When I owned a studio, about a hundred years ago, I did a lot of aerial photography, mostly real estate and construction progress photos. I did some work with a 4x5 Century Graphic that I made an shroud to protect the bellows for. I found that handling/organizing/not double exposing sheet film holders in a cramped cockpit was a real challenge. A helicopter was not in the budget so most of my shooting was done from a Citabria or a Cessna 150.

I finally bought a Koni-Omega with a couple of extra backs and life was good. I made enlargements as big as 5x7 (feet!) from that silly thing.

Today I'd recommend a Pentax 67, plentiful used, lots of lenses available, 120 or 220 (if you can find it) film.

But a purpose built 4x5 (Gowland/Fotoman) with Grafmatic holders would be doable.

JD

Noah A
6-Dec-2010, 09:55
...
Can someone explain to me why a high-end DSLR with quality glass and vibration correction and everything else is not the best approach to aerial photography today?

It probably is the best solution for some uses. But if you're in philadelphia any time soon stop by and I'll show you why I'd rather shoot film...I have some aerials I shot in São Paulo with the Leica M9 and Nikon D700 and in my opinion they don't look nearly as good as medium- or large-format film when printed very large (40"+).

The Mamiya 7 beats any dslr hands-down for large prints. At small sizes it's a toss-up and digital is certainly easier. Of course 4x5 has a different look altogether.

The best solution, honestly, would be an Alpa with a Phase One back P65+ and a ken-lab gyro. But that's not in the budget:confused:.

Besides, I like the look of color film.

Jeff Bannow
6-Dec-2010, 10:23
I wish fotoman were still around...but since they're not does anyone have experience with gaoersi cameras? I can find very little online about them, but the quality seems iffy. The price is right, however.

Fotoman China is still around and shipping out new product.

GPS
6-Dec-2010, 10:37
A nice, heavy, honest camera would also be the workhorse Mamiya Press 6x9...

engl
6-Dec-2010, 10:50
When it comes to the movements (and rotation is one of them) there is no difference if you hand held the camera on earth or in a vibrating airplane - except that in the airplane you vibrate with it too...

Yes I agree, I did not express myself correctly regarding movements (as you say, rotation is a movement). I meant that rotation is the only source of blur when shooting things "sufficiently" far away. Only shifts in position is not going to have any effect. This should be pretty obvious when doing aerial photography from a airplane, the camera is moving a lot during the exposure, but results can still be razor sharp.

I agree about wind, it is going to be the main cause of blur in most situations. I have not claimed otherwise. I was just making the point that the design of a monorail/field camera with bellows also makes it more affected by craft vibrations than a rigid camera.

GPS
6-Dec-2010, 11:50
OK, indeed, the wind is the enemy n.1 I have a lot of experience in shooting LF in strong winds. I even made cameras with firm infinity stops to shoot in winds because I was not able to keep my head and focusing loupe steady in that kind of photography. So you come to the paradoxical situations when your camera (anchored on two tripods) is more steady than you yourself trying to balance yourself leaning on - the camera... ;-)

Kirk Gittings
6-Dec-2010, 12:17
I used a Hassy with eye piece because that was what I owned and did not want to invest in aerial specific equipment because I did it so infrequently. But reviewing my feeble memory......it seems like the camera of choice for artsy kind of aerial photographers has been the Pentax 6x7. Back in the 80's there was a very famous artsy aerial photographer, I can't remember his name for the life of me right now. I seem to remember him using a Pentax 6x7 as well as Paul Logston, who was a fine aerial photographer, who mainly showed medium size prints in galleries here in New Mexico.
And didn't Marilyn Bridges (http://www.marilynbridges.com/pages/bio.html) use a Pentax? Actually the portrait of her on her website shows her holding a Pentax 6x7 so....

Drew Wiley
6-Dec-2010, 12:36
The photographer for the Blue Angels uses a 4x5 speed graphic with a wire finder, and
might begin to aim the thing and put his finger to the button when he's still several
miles behind the rest of the flight formation. I've seen him work from a hill behind my
house where I can see them fly over the entire BNay. Remarkable how he gets up to
speed, flys by at near supersonic speed and gets everything composed in a split second. But he has a special optical quality window for photog. Or you could try
traditional 9x9 inch aerial film, like Bradford Washburn used. Quite a point n' shoot!
I'm making a 4x5 fixed focus camera for infinity out of old Sinar parts, and keeping
the apparatus competely rigid yet lightwt with carbon fiber strips. Or at least, that's
the idea, once I get back to the project.

Drew Wiley
6-Dec-2010, 12:42
Regarding the Pentax 6x7, it was also made famous by Shirakawa's aerial shots of the
Himalayas and other coffee-table books of the era. I use this camera for windy conditions, and handheld it this spring during high winds on the summit of Haleakala
for some crazy shots of clouds past the lava. But the bigger neg of 4x5 is soooo much
nicer to print from!

Kuzano
6-Dec-2010, 14:36
We have a local group of fliers who fly powered parachutes. One of them also belongs to our local camera club.

They did a photo presentation to our club one "program" night. Now, I have paraglided in recent years, and the prospect of mounting an LF camera on a powered parachute seems very interesting to me. Their program was well received and they provided some awesome images. They fly the mountain ranges, lakes and beaches of Oregon. They had some great images looking down... yes down.... on Mt Jefferson, The 3 sisters, wilderness areas, and high desert dry lakebeds. Powered parachutes fly at average speeds around 40 miles per hour. Seems rather tame in terms of wind on the camera or body.

I've often considered this mode of air transport and would love to have such a craft. This post raises the question, for me, of a powered parachute for aerial photography. I would think a fixed aerial body camera would be necessary, but perhaps a stout 4X5 with lenses in the shorter focal lengths would work as well, since the bellows would be fairly compacted. I'd probably opt for quickloads and easyloads, since I have a couple of hundred envelopes in the film fridge.

The fellows using the Powered Parachutes have both single and dual passenger models and take people up for demo flights and such. ????? Hmmmm.... come spring?

Merg Ross
6-Dec-2010, 15:19
Back in the 80's there was a very famous artsy aerial photographer, I can't remember his name for the life of me right now. I seem to remember him using a Pentax 6x7.......

Perhaps you are thinking of Bill Garnett. The Pentax 6x7 was his last camera, his first was a 4x5 Graphic. In between he used different models of 35mm Pentax. The quality of his images was outstanding, even the big prints from 35mm. There are books on his work, worth a look (or owning). He lived in Napa, CA.

Armin Seeholzer
6-Dec-2010, 15:45
So boys I worked for 3 years as an Aerophotog in Swiss with a Linhof Aerotronica 6x9 and later with a prototyp Aerotronica High speed as my fav. camera. I was about 900 hrs in a helicopter and was shooting 70'000 pictures around Switzerland for a company!
Its some time ago 1991-93.
But I see not a problem with the downwash of the heli, if he uses not to short lenses he can sit and hold the camera inside the heli where it is not so much wind at all, maybe it depence a bit on the form of the heli this has to be testet. But with the Hughes/Schweitzer Heli the small one for max 3 personen it could work wonderfull with my Horseman HF / FA or a Wista/Linhof.
As bigger the neg as better the print, this is never so important then with Aerials!
A good tracking of the Heli is also important a high frequency of fibration is the killer of sharpness a low frequency fibration is not a problem with 1/500 Sec and shorter. I used most of the time the 1/800 on my Linhof Aerotronica my friends used almost only 1/500sec.
If I would do it today I would take a Nikon D 3X and a lens with the VR II and I think it would work quite well! But I would use it with only 1/1000 sec or shorter!
Because as smaller the neg as shorter the times must be!

I really would try it with your Wista but do not take a lens shorter then the 150mm ( I would even prefer a 180/210mm ) so you can frame inside the heli without getting the door frames of the heli!

Good luck

Kirk Gittings
6-Dec-2010, 16:00
Yes that was him Merg! He amazed me with some of his images. Did you know him at all? He worked in California too I believe.

William Garnett (http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artMakerDetails?maker=1580)

Armin Seeholzer
6-Dec-2010, 16:08
Here I'm short before the start in Biasca in the Tessin south part of Swiss!

Cheers Armin

Drew Wiley
6-Dec-2010, 16:32
Around here the security helicopters looking for pot patches and other signs of trouble
have high magnification binoculars mounted on gyros. My brother would use a gyro on
his 4x5 Technika when on a helicopter. Pretty to difficult to get sharp images otherwise. Just wish commercial airliner flights had clear windows instead of scratched
up hazy ones; Nevada, for example, is spectacular from high altitude, and every time
I fly over it I think of Bill Garnett and what he did in that little silver single-engine prop, at lower altitude of course. I have a couple of books with his images, one with
quite a bit of explanatory content. Best known for his black-and-white work; but he
was damn gifted in color too.

Bob Salomon
6-Dec-2010, 16:35
Here I'm short before the start in Biasca in the Tessin south part of Swiss!

Cheers Armin

Was that the company that was using the Aerotronica to shoot estates from the helicopter in Switzerland? The onmly Aerotronicas that we sold in the USA went to the Marine Corps. everyone else, including NASA and the Navy, used the Aero Technika 45 EL. Although the NASA ones led to modifications of the camera that stayed in the regular version.

Armin Seeholzer
6-Dec-2010, 16:37
Is that your Aerotronica?

Yes it was with the 450mm lens!


Was that the company that was using the Aerotronica to shoot estates from the helicopter in Switzerland?

Not only but yes we did also company buildings, privat houses, small and big towns for postcards, we have been 4 photogs and the company had 3 own Helis and every photog had 2 Aeros one as spare, we worked with 30m Aero Neg film in the begining with 200 later only with 400ASA from the big yellow father!
My high speed version had a much faster film transport stronger motor I could do 2 pics if needed in 1 second at 1/800 sec. and shorter! Shortes time was 1/1250 or 1/1500 not sure enymore which but really fast for a 6x9cm neg!

Merg Ross
6-Dec-2010, 17:40
Yes that was him Merg! He amazed me with some of his images. Did you know him at all? He worked in California too I believe.

William Garnett (http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artMakerDetails?maker=1580)

Hi Kirk, yes I knew Bill. He was certainly deserving of the three Guggenheim fellowships that he received. Terrific eye, great craftsman, with a fine sense of humor. He also taught in the Environmental Design department at UC Berkeley. There is at least one of his students who visits this forum.

Bill printed the color in his Napa studio up to 40x60 inches, from 35mm Kodachrome. Truly stunning, although I have always preferred his black and white work. He was still fliying that little silver Cessna close to his 80th birthday.

Noah A
7-Dec-2010, 06:32
Here I'm short before the start in Biasca in the Tessin south part of Swiss!

Cheers Armin

Great photo. That's some setup. It would be fun getting that thing past security to fly to my location (on a commercial jet).

Thanks for the info. From my experience you're right, the wind isn't too bad so long as you stay within the helicopter. If you put your hand (or camera) past the door opening then you feel the very heavy wind and/or downwash from the heli.

Still, it seems like a rigid camera is the way to go.

Jack Dahlgren
7-Dec-2010, 06:46
Just wish commercial airliner flights had clear windows instead of scratched
up hazy ones; Nevada, for example, is spectacular from high altitude, and every time
I fly over it I think of Bill Garnett and what he did in that little silver single-engine prop, at lower altitude of course.

Occasionally the windows are clear. Try the newer airlines.
Not LF so I'm just posting a link, but here are a few of my photos out of commercial flight windows. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jack-d/sets/72157604176626155/with/4110599121/I've done some stereo photography as well, by taking a couple of shots separated by a few seconds.

Garnett's work is sort of being followed up in a different way by Chris Benton also from Berkeley's CED.http://arch.ced.berkeley.edu/kap/kaptoc.html

I studied there too. I think most Architects love looking down at cities and the landscape.

BetterSense
7-Dec-2010, 07:15
I've taken pictures out the windows of commercial airliners with my Speed Graphic. If you use a middling aperture it helps to shoot through the grungy windows without affecting the picture too much.

Neal Chaves
7-Dec-2010, 07:18
I used a Linhof MT45 and 4X5 Crown Graphic out of light planes on many occasions and frequently at very low altitude. No problems with the bellows on 150mm lenses in a J-3 Cub with doors down. Made many sharp negatives through the plexiglass (I always carried the special cleaner) window of Cessna 172 and similar aircraft. Make sure infinity focus of the lens is exact and locked down. Use 1/500 sec. if you can. I found that Grafmatic magazines were not worth the trouble and possibility of malfunctions and I just use either 6X9 roll film or double cut 4X5 holders.

Noah A
8-Dec-2010, 08:00
It turns out Fotoman is still in business in China, but they're no longer making the 45PS camera. They're coming out with a new 4x5 camera sometime next year.

I've been thinking of building a camera, since it would be cheaper and it would let me use my current lenses (mounted in wista/linhof boards). It would be nice not to have to carry redundant lenses when traveling. I'm thinking of a thin body with back and interchangeable spacers/cones that the lenses would mount to in their current lensboards.

If I'm shooting from a chopper at around 500', would I still be ok if I use a fixed infinity focus on 110, 150 and 210mm lenses?

Jeicob
11-Dec-2010, 07:43
Regarding the Pentax 6x7, it was also made famous by Shirakawa's aerial shots of the Himalayas and other coffee-table books of the era.


... and the prospect of mounting an LF camera on a powered parachute seems very interesting to me.

I uploaded this a couple of years ago to youtube (LQ sorry!) Adriel Heisey (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nijX0lgsols)

David Phillips
11-Dec-2010, 10:08
Noah,Bob Cameron who shot all those "Above" Citys books used a 6X7 Pentax with a gyro and it worked perfectly. I was with him in the Helicopter when he shot some of the "Above Chicago" book. I would stay away from shooting color negative and shoot
a transparencie film like 100 Ektahrome or one of the Afga films. In my estimation they
are sharper. The Pentax lenses are plenty sharp film film image and Bob's books are
magnificent. He made millions with his books. Too bad he's gone at almost 100 years old. A great talent and a great guy. David Phillips dpcapc@comcast.net

GPS
11-Dec-2010, 11:48
...
If I'm shooting from a chopper at around 500', would I still be ok if I use a fixed infinity focus on 110, 150 and 210mm lenses?

Those are two different questions. The fixed focus is surely ok, the time depends on the vibrations in the helicopter.

Nathan Potter
11-Dec-2010, 11:51
I have framed in my workroom, four prints (Ciba Geigy calendar copies) of images made by Emil Schulthess in 1982 from his book "Swiss Panorama". Even these reproductions are astounding in detail. I'm looking at the image of the "old town" of Lucerne take from above the river Reuss and the swans in the foreground are distinctly reproduced and with such clarity that their bills are distinguishable.

These images were made using a specially designed 360 degree camera with a rotating shutter. The camera was slung below the helicopter on ropes and operated remotely. BTW his book published by Artemis Verlag in Zurich about 1982 is still available through Amazon. I think there was also a US edition by Alfred Knopf, NY.

The view of Armin sitting in the helicopter reminded me of Emils work. Armin it looks like that big camera is suspended on a sling while in use, sort of like what I used while in the Navy with the Fairchild cameras on a P2V Neptune plane.

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

Armin Seeholzer
11-Dec-2010, 12:29
The view of Armin sitting in the helicopter reminded me of Emils work. Armin it looks like that big camera is suspended on a sling while in use, sort of like what I used while in the Navy with the Fairchild cameras on a P2V Neptune plane.

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

The Linhof Aerotronica is hanging on an aluminium guide rail with a carabiner like for sailing fixed on a door frames hook and a very strong rubber band is going down to the camera holding points, in emergency which never did happen to me I could just throw the camera out of the cockpit I had just to pull on a green string and push the camera out of the door frame!
This was done after in an incident with a photographer which was killed because of the camera with the wight of it falling on the breast of the photgrapher during the incident!
The pilot survifed the crash with almost nothing!

You almost ever get down, but very seldom a little bit to fast!
1 time a week we did the emergency drill, with autorotation and I had to get the camera fast beetwen my legs in really emergency I would liked to smash it out of the cockbit! Its good to drill it and not to use it;--)))
Cheers Armin

Armin Seeholzer
11-Dec-2010, 12:41
Oh and Emil had a very expensive setup with colaboration of the Swiss army some high end engeeniering etc. The setup was in a range of a middle expensive Swiss house!
I remember me on an exipition of his Panos and also some other pics, he was really good one and also a very good business man!
He worked many years till he was totaly happy with his setup!

Armin

GPS
12-Dec-2010, 05:42
...

If I'm shooting from a chopper at around 500', would I still be ok if I use a fixed infinity focus on 110, 150 and 210mm lenses?

I wonder why nobody, not even the Swiss Army hero, answered your simple question...;)

Sevo
12-Dec-2010, 06:02
I wonder why nobody, not even the Swiss Army hero, answered your simple question...;)

Sorry, I simply missed it. At angles around 30-60° at 500ft AGL the distance to the main subject will in the 400-800m range. That is close enough to infinity with normals to slightly longish lenses by my standards.

Robert Crigan
12-Dec-2010, 21:54
In the past I did quite a bit of aerial work but it was all 67 with Pentax equipment. I worked from either fixed wing or helicopter.
A colleague of mine did a lot of aerial work over the years, using only 45. He used a field camera. I don't rememer the type but it wasn't wooden.
In my experience wind is not a problem until the camera is stuck out in the slipstream. Then nothing will stop it vibrating to the point of uselessness. If I needed a near-vertical shot I'd ask the pilot to bank and I'd get enough depression from within the cabin to get the angle I needed.
A potential problem is keeping track of equipment in the tight confines of the cabin. I had just a couple of bodies, some lenses and lots of film. When you have dd's floating around and there's nobody behind you to keep things tidy you'll be busy. It's awefully easy to let something slip and with a door off it becomes a federal offence, at least here in Australia.
My advice is to try out what you've got. Framing and shutter release can be problems on their own. Good luck.


My current photographic project involves doing some aerial photography. I started the project with digital, then went 6x7cm with a Mamiya 7 and now I'm shooting 4x5 (I know, it's a slippery slope to larger formats!).

I'm trying to figure out if I can shoot all 4x5 or if I'd need to stick with 6x7 for the aerial work. I'd love to shoot all one format for consistency as well as simplicity when traveling.

Is it at all possible to shoot aerials with my field camera (a wista 45vx)? It's very rigid and has a shoe that could hold a viewfinder--but I've heard that the bellows can cause vibrations. I'm not sure if I understand why, since if the whole camera is vibrating I'm not sure why a soft bellows would make it worse. Perhaps I could add a stiffener between the back and front standard? Focus should mostly be infinity and the photos would mostly be overall views of urban areas.

I'd be shooting 400 speed color neg with a modern Rodenstock 150mm lens (or maybe 135mm). I'd be shooting from a helicopter, usually with the door removed.

I know the alternatives would be a gaoersi or a fotoman (Anyone selling one with a 120/135/150mm cone???). But since my work does involve travel, if I could get by with the Wista that would be great. I'm not doing aerials full-time, it's just a small part of the project.

Of course I would try it locally first before renting an expensive helicopter overseas, but I was wondering if anyone here has any relevant experience...

cosmicexplosion
12-Dec-2010, 22:42
john schnieder had a gowland 4x5 arial for sale, i think only about $2-300.

they are a fixed box and look nice and simple, kind of point and shoot 4x5.

let me know if you are interested and i will contact him, i almost bought it just fr the point and shoot factor.

John Schneider
13-Dec-2010, 10:02
john schnieder had a gowland 4x5 arial for sale, i think only about $2-300.

Hi Andrew, hope you're continuing to stay ahead of your steep learning curve and are having fun! :)

I sold the Gowland aerial cam a while ago on eBay (the 612 setup you sold me is far more fun to shoot :) :) ), but they're not terrible uncommon. Peter's estate may even still have the parts to assemble a new one. Since they're a simple sheet metal box with handles, a sight, and a Graflex back, they could be recreated by anyone reasonably handy.

Armin Seeholzer
13-Dec-2010, 12:16
If I'm shooting from a chopper at around 500', would I still be ok if I use a fixed infinity focus on 110, 150 and 210mm lenses?

I did not answer this one because of 500' means this feet or what?

I would really do at least for the longer ones 150/210 really focus on 500' and fix it at it why should I loose some sharpness because of not use the exact focus point especially if you are for smaller things maybe even a bit shorter in distance!

Cheers Armin

Sevo
13-Dec-2010, 13:13
500ft often is the minimum altitude above ground without special permission. Shooting from a window the actual distance to the foreground will be more like 700-1000ft.

cosmicexplosion
13-Dec-2010, 14:34
Hey john,

i knew i should have asked you, but its good to see you are still in the woodwork,

he he

i am real glad you dig the camera, i just did a course on basics, and and only half finished but it gave me a kick start and i understand books a bit better, but i think all we are doing is deciding how much light we want to enter.

he he

any way i dont want to hi jack this thread so i will say gowland one more time.

see you soon

andrew

oh and happy happy cristmas to you and your family

Armin Seeholzer
13-Dec-2010, 14:38
500ft often is the minimum altitude above ground without special permission. Shooting from a window the actual distance to the foreground will be more like 700-1000ft.

We always worked with special permission so we could work at 50- 100m from ground, which is also a dangerous low if the motor stops on the heli!
Only for city's and really large company's we worked higher!

Good bless you all in the air!

Noah A
13-Dec-2010, 15:38
Sorry I should have been more specific, but yes I meant 500 feet. It is generally the lowest we can go without special permission (which I usually don't have). So therefore it's the worst possible scenario in terms of needing close-focus.

Most of the time I'd be a bit higher for safety and yes, not shooting straight down so we'd be looking at more distance. But it's the closest focus I was worried about if the camera is fixed at infinity. Clearly it shouldn't be a problem.

I'll look into the gowlands or possibly I'll build my own. Thanks for all of the suggestions.

Reinhold Schable
15-Dec-2010, 21:56
I just stumbled across this forum topic, and I've got to rush off...

But first let me add: another option is the Cambo Wide;

http://www.mediajoy.com/en/cla_came/cambo/index.html

It's a 4x5 handheld that accepts sheet film as well as Horseman 612 holders. I have one that's been in my arsenal for about 15 years, and I'm in the process of scaling back on my equipment, but I don't have the time to take some photo's at the moment. Give me a day or so...

Reinhold

www.classicBWphoto.com

John Kasaian
15-Dec-2010, 22:43
I've done a bit of 8x10 aerial work with a Gowland. A rigid camera is a good choice. Gowland cameras a fine but you could also use a military speed graphic (the solid box ones) or make a shield for a Crown as I suggested earlier. I prefer "normal" to "long" focal lengths for fixed wing work and generally wider lenses for helicopters(this might sound wierd I know but take it into consideration when shopping for a dedicated aerial camera) If you're shooting sheet film use plastic film holders and practice where you'll be putting the dark slides. You don't want them sucked out! Also don't let any part of the camera come into contact with the fusilage or you will have vibration problems. Dampen vibrations with your body. An important consideration for these big "box cameras"(which is really what they are) is the lens and shutter. You'll want one that has fast shutter speeds(500 is nice) and a lens that performs well wide open or nearly so(like a 150mm Nikkor M for example) The best fixed wing aerial photoship for low altitudes IMHO is a SuperCub. Have a safe flight!

BetterSense
16-Dec-2010, 13:32
In the infinity regime where DOF is not a consideration, such as aerial photography, how does aperture effect the image quality? Telescopes use as large of an aperture as possible to reduce diffraction, but are LF lenses corrected well enough that using larger apertures provides better resolution at infinity?

Jack Dahlgren
16-Dec-2010, 14:02
In the infinity regime where DOF is not a consideration, such as aerial photography, how does aperture effect the image quality? Telescopes use as large of an aperture as possible to reduce diffraction, but are LF lenses corrected well enough that using larger apertures provides better resolution at infinity?

No. Look at any lens resolution chart. Wide open is not the best resolution. Nor is stopped all the way down.

Neal Chaves
17-Dec-2010, 09:44
I have flown on aerial jobs with some very experienced pilots most of whom are also personal friends. The small, fixed wing aircraft costs a fraction of the helicopter's expense to operate and maintain. The commercial photographer who can work out of such an aircraft and deliver excellent results has a significant competitive advantage over one who is operating out of helicopters, which are seldom needed or appropriate for most assignments.

Even most experienced pilots feel uncomfortable at first with one of the most useful maneuvers for the photo-reconnaissance aircraft, the side-slip. Slipping requires crossing the controls and goes against all basic flight training and instruction, but when you have a pilot that can or learns to do it for you, it is a great technique.

Let's say you need to photograph a house for a real estate ad. You first circle the house a time or two and determine your best composition. Tell the pilot when you pass the point, because he probably can't see it himself but can use other terrain he can see as a reference. When you start to circle on your photo run you should be somewhat higher and further out from the house than when you found your best composition, because slipping will cost altitude and also carry you in closer to the house. The advantages are that you will stay in the "sweet spot" much longer than if you just fly by or around and your ground speed past the house will be significantly reduced.

The Champ, the Cub, the Cessna 150 and 172 are all great slippers. The 85 HP J3 Cub is the best for warm weather flying. The 172 has the advantage of space for a light-weight assistant who can feed you your holders. Remember to keep your own feet off the rudder pedals as you stretch and strain for that perfect exposure!

Allen in Montreal
18-Dec-2010, 16:02
Armin:

"Here I'm short before the start in Biasca in the Tessin south part of Swiss!"

That is an amazing setup.
I can't help but wonder if using it today in North America would get you shot down however! :( :(

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Noah,
I have shot a lot of aerials over the years.
Everything from Satellite "look a likes" at 10,000 feet with no door and full all out banking right (it was a blast but the pilot always seemed nervous...to classic building and site shots.

I never needed more than 6x6 or 6x7.
Looking forward to see what rig you end with and some of the work from the project.

peter ramm
19-Dec-2010, 07:52
I am more pilot than photographer, and a pretty lousy pilot. Perhaps that is why I have never managed to get beyond digital in the air. I would love to try aerial LF, especially as it would force me to stop trying to both fly and shoot. Yes, I know, stupid.

What rings my bell is the Lockwood Aircam (aircam.com). Cheap, cheerful, and no question of its capabilities for DSLR work. But, has anyone tried to use LF or even MF analog gear in one of these? I remember that handling a MFD camera with long lens was a nightmare in an open biplane. I wonder if the airstream around the AirCam is friendlier.