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"Aerial Burns"

One of the best experiences from my time in Australia to date!!

The waiting throughout the day for this spectacular helicopter flight over Kakadu and Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia was SO WORTH IT.

We really wanted to experience the 1hr flight at sunset, where the sun lights up all of the sandstone escarpments in the region. We flew over some absolutely pristine scenery and landscape over Arnhem Land. Such a beautiful sight to see nature completely untouched by human activity, an absolute abundance of animals.

The great thing about helicopter flights (Did I mention it had no doors!!) is that you get a much more personal perspective and experience compared to a fixed wing flight at much greater altitude. The pilot also has the ability to circle round more easily to get a better view of any interesting subjects....

For keen photographers this is an absolute treat!

We managed to fly over and see lots of wildlife in their natural habitats including Water Buffalo, Wild Horses, Cows, Egrets, Wild Pigs, Salt Water Crocodiles and our absolute highlight of the day....a Jabiru nest with a female and juvenile! So Cool! Something that you just wouldn't experience in a fixed wing plane.

Not only was the wildlife impressive...the landscape was out of this world.

Something I was dying to see from the sky was a 'burn off'. Our absolute legend of a pilot Sam knew I was keen to see this and knew a few spots where some burning was happening. About half way through our flight we flew up over this huge rock escarpment and dropped down off the 'cliff edge in the sky' at the other end.

We were met with this vast floodplain that stretched for what seemed like 100 km. To my absolute delight there was a fire right in front of us. As we circled round in an anticlockwise direction I was so excited to see the sun rays cutting through the trees and lighting up the smoke surrounding the bushland below.

What an absolute spectacle this was...the photo opportunity I had hoped for!

Please enjoy a the short video of our experience and see the video footage of these burns for yourself !! ENJOY :)

Tips & Tricks:

In the case of my recent helicopter flight this was a 'doors off' flight which meant shooting through glass was not an issue to overcome. However all camera gear needs to be well secured...for obvious reasons.

Time of day

The time of day can be critical depending on what shots you are hoping to focus on. Golden hours are always a photographers choice whether thats wildlife or landscape photography. I personally feel that aerial photography is no different. Although the low lying sun can be a challenge with sun spots, the benefits definitely outweigh this. The shadows, the depth, the colours, are all enhanced at these times of day.

Choosing the right lens....

Firstly...its time to make a choice! It might be tempting to think you will be carrying multiple lenses and other gear with you on your flight but in reality there will be little time to swap lenses and if you're on a 'doors off' flight changing lenses would NOT be sensible!

With plane flights you will be higher off the ground with less manoeuvrability so more zoom may be required than on a helicopter flight. I would suggest a 200mm lens for example 70-200mm or 24-200mm allowing for those wide angle landscape shots as well as giving you the ability to zoom in on certain features throughout the flight. I used a 18-135mm lens which allowed me to capture some of the wide angle shots I was hoping for but also allowed me to zoom in on certain subjects including rock escarpments and wildlife on the ground.

Helicopters will take you much closer to the action and your subject. Therefore wider lenses are probably more of an advantage here to capture some epic aerial landscape shots.

There isn't really a right or wrong choice but it has to be whats going to work for you and will be dependant on the subject you are looking to capture on the day!


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