Angel Falls is the world’s highest waterfall as well as the inspiration for Paradise Falls in the Pixar film Up. Unless you’re planning on visiting the falls in the heart of Venezuela in person, the next best thing might be this stunning series of 360° aerial panoramas recently captured by photographer Dmitry Moiseenko over two days from a helicopter. Pan around, zoom into the scene, and become immersed in the otherworldly landscapes found at Angel Falls. Read more…
Aviation photographer Justin de Reuck has an awesome job: rather than do photo shoots in the comfort of a studio, he hops into fighter jets to photograph other airplanes in flight. This behind-the-scenes video shows him at work, snapping images while zipping around above the clouds and battling G-forces. The photographs that resulted from this shoot can be seen here.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense has unveiled an amazing “Spherical Flying Machine”: a 42-inch remote controlled ball that can zip around in any direction at ~37mph. Built using off-the-shelf parts for about $1,400, in Internet is abuzz over the potential applications, which include military reconnaissance and search-and-rescue operations. What we’re most interested in, however, is the device’s potential as an aerial camera for things like sports photography and combat photojournalism. Read more…
You’ve probably heard of tossing your camera into the air for abstract light painting photos, but what about for actual photos? Wedding photographer Mike Larson shoots group photos from above — with himself in the shot — by throwing a DSLR and fisheye lens into the air and letting the timer trigger the shutter. You can find some examples of photos made using this technique over on Larson’s website.
If you do try your hand at camera toss photos, make sure you have awesome hand-eye coordination and that you’re standing on soft ground (e.g. grass, cotton balls, marshmallows).
If you thought Google Earth was cool, check out the work being done by Swedish corp C3 Technologies. Using only photos shot from planes, they can automatically create high-resolution 3D models of entire cities that can then be explored. The above video shows a beautiful fly-by of New York City.
All of the C3 products are based on high-resolution photography captured with carefully calibrated cameras. For every picture, the positions and angles of the cameras are calculated with extremely high precision, using an advanced navigation system. This is what enables C3 to give each pixel its geographical position with very high accuracy. [#]
They can also apply the technology to turn panoramic photographs captured at street-level into 3D models of the scene that the user can navigate through freely. Hopefully this kind of thing makes its way to products like Google Maps soon. It would also be awesome for creating maps in video games!
Cinematographer Tom Guilmette has a simple way you can shoot your own aerial shots if flying kites or RC planes/helicopters isn’t for you: fill up a large number of helium balloons, attach a camera to them, and send it high into the air attached to a fishing pole. Guilmette attached a GoPro HD camera to 30 balloons, and was able to get some remarkably smooth footage from 400+ feet in the air. Be warned though… doing this in high winds or near trees can be risky business.
Here’s an interesting video created by Make Magazine showing how UC Berkeley architecture professor Charles Benton uses kites to capture amazing aerial photographs. Benton creates his own gear for mounting his DSLR on a kite and controlling it from afar — you might be surprised at how creative some of his contraptions are (for one rig he uses a disposable camera, rubber bands, and a ping-pong ball).
A few guys in Los Angeles recently convinced their friend to let them borrow his new iPhone 4 (that he waited 4.5 in line for), and got onto a rooftop with the help of another friend. Using some large helium balloons, they attached the iPhone and started recording 720p video of downtown LA as it rose up to 1000 feet into the air on the end of a kite string. They also made a fun behind-the-scenes video of their project.
This setup is definitely cheaper than an RC plane or helicopter, and somewhat safer and more stable than a kite.
Forget complicated kite photography kits that actually require skill. UK-based industrial designer Matthew Clark has a fun solution for taking photographs from high up: the Aeriel Capture camera.
This concept camera has a 3 foot balloon built into the back of the camera itself, and has a 20 meter chord that doubles as the shutter release. Photographs are taken by simply flipping a switch in the hand reel.
The idea is great in that it would allow anyone to easily take some aerial shots of an event without wind or fancy aerial vehicles. The downside to the idea is that you need to have helium on hand to get it floating.
If this was on the market for a low enough price (i.e. $20), do you think it’d be a useful camera to have around?