crown graphic for aerial photo?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by jake_richardson, Nov 11, 2004.

  1. having read a bit about aerial shooting, and having gotten some decent shots with a
    DSLR, i want to try taking some pics with my crown graphic in a helicopter.

    however, the shutter speeds on my 135mm lens are 100, 250, and 500.

    are these fast enough to make sharp aerial images?

    thank you,

    jake r.
  2. 1/500 is fast enough, your problem will be the slipstream shaking the bellows. People like William Garnett (look up his work) solved this 50+ years back by building shields for their Graphics.
  3. hi jake

    i was going to do the same thing out of a helicopter with my speed graphic - door off,
    strapped down. at the time i was going to have steve grimes make a metal cage for my
    bellows. basically, it would wrap around the bellows and either slide in and out depending
    on the focal length lens, as long as you have the mask for your viewer and your camera is
    set to infinity, you won't have any trouble. you might look into renting or borrowing a
    longer lens ... you may find that the 135 is a little wide for what you are looking for ...
    if you can pick up yourself a grafmatic, the downdraft from a helicopter is pretty crazy so
    it might be easier to use 6 shots in one holder - dropping filmholders would be a real drag

    good luck!
  4. I agree with john nanian. Your 250 and 500 shutter speeds are fast enough. Remember to insulate your camera from the ship's vibration with your body---don't let any part of the camera touch the fusilage! Helicopters in particular are very good vibrator generators! Don't let the bellows get anywhere near the downdraft from the rotor! That down draft is strong enough to capsize a small boat and will do a 'number' on bellows.

    Have fun!
  5. You may also want to look at getting a 'combat graphic'
    These had solid shells and the focussing mechanism was housed inside.

    Ive never used one, but they look sturdy enough.
  6. Jake, I do this several times a year with a Linhof V with no problems at all. You don't need to take the door off (I feel it isn't needed) and if your bellows is in good condition, there will be no problems. A 135mm will be a bit on the wide side (I use a 150mm and have the pilot work his way in) but with good direction on your part, to the pilot, it will be fine. 1/100 and 1/250 speeds are fine. Typically I will use the 400asa color film with very good DOF. Before you lift off, make sure your lens is focused (definitely use a loupe and hopefully you have "lens stops" to screw down) and locked in for infinity. Your not going to fudge around with focus up there and your f stop should stay the same too. Just through in the film holder and shoot. If the pilot is worth his/her weight, they will be able to settle the bird for you to take your shot and then move on. Communication is key as the pilot doesn't know what your angle of view is. I'm fortunate as the pilot I use is a hobby 4x5 shooter himself. I always brief the pilot before hand and then tweak my instructions as needed when I'm in the air. All you really need to be concerned with when airborne is making you know the "feel" of your shutter by using a cable release and the steps you need to do to get set for the next shot.
  7. Scott's advice is spot on. I would add that you should keep your upper body away from the airframe. Don't brace yourself or your arms against the helicopter or you will pick up vibrations. Use your torso as the vibration absorber.
    If the window will open, or can be removed, you may not have to remove the door. If you shoot through the plastic window you may as well use a Holga. With the door off either make sure your equipment is secure or that your name is not on it...
  8. gyro balancer

    I never take my camera off the ground or mount in in extreme locations without it.
  9. When doing 4 x 5 aerial work, it helps to attach a small strobe unit to the camera and
    position it so that it flashes directly into your face when the shutter is released.
    This way you'll always know that the shutter tripped even when you can't hear or feel

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