FAQ Aviation Photography - Aerial photography Cleveland Ohio aerial photographers Northeast Ohio

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FAQ Aviation Photography

Our Company


Do you Really sit on the wing??
Only with anti-gravity boots on... or, no :) Yvonne is safely and firmly buckled into her right seat in our Cessna 172 airplane.

She does, however, open the window - in every season - for the clearest view for the camera.

At what altitude do you fly? We usually fly over our sites at between 1000' and 5000' above the ground. There are Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) altitude flight rules to follow, and in 'congested areas' like cities or downtowns, as to how high we must stay and how far away from the highest obstacle (i.e. radio towers or office buildings).

Is there a limit as to maximum altitude you can fly? Yes, without supplemental oxygen 10,500'.

What about sites near big airports?
We can arrange for permission to enter 'controlled airspace' and work frequently with the professional air traffic controllers at major airports.

Does one person ever fly and photograph? To be done as well and conscientiously as possible, we find that piloting an aircraft, and maneuvering to photograph, especially with long zoom lenses, each require one person's full attention.

So it's 'two for one' with Focal Plane Photography :)

Do you fly at night? Yes, and more frequently as cameras continue to improve to capture good digital images in low light.

How fast does your plane fly?
Cruise speed between aerial photo jobs in our airplane is 120 knots (150 mph). When circling a photo site, our airspeed is usually 60 knots (70 mph).

What kind of plane do you own? Cessna 172N, with a Penn Yann engine conversion, fixed-pitch propeller, and powerflow exhaust.

Where do you park the airplane?
It is hangared at Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Hts., Ohio, which is about five miles from our home office.

How does cold weather affect your plane? A key issue is keeping the oil at or above 40 degrees F. Mark keeps our aircraft's oil temp warm in winter with a timed heater, and we cover the engine cowling and propeller with custom covers to hold in the warmth.

We call it our 'airplane cozy'.


What kind of cameras do you use?
Canon 1Ds - Mark III, and as a back up and for short video, Canon 5D (both with full frame censors, 21 mega pixel).

Stabilized Canon lenses, wide angle 15mm, fixed 50mm, zoom 24-104mm, zoom 70-200mm, zoom 70-300mm.

Do you only take pictures on sunny days? We fly both in search of bright sun for some sites, and look for overcast cloudy days for others. This is preferable, for instance, when there is a need to eliminate harsh shadows for a north facing structure or a city site surrounded by tall buildings.

'Puffy' cumulus clouds can be an issue for their uneven shadows, so we often fly early on summer days, before those have a chance to develop.

Do you ever photograph at night? Yes, with stabilized lenses the ability for 'still' photography to capture good images in low light conditions continues to improve.

Do you take aerial photos in the winter? We do indeed.  Construction work continues all year long, and we're out there too to capture the progress.  

Yvonne bundles up like she plans to ski the Arctic, as it gets a bit wind-chilly with the window open at 70 mph on a 20 degree F day!  Snow can actually be quite beautiful on a site.

What is the best time of year for aerial photography? Spring and Autumn generally offer the 'clearest' air, or least amount of moisture and therefore haze.

Both also offer windows of opportunity for fewer leaves to obscure views in wooded areas.

Summer offers the most greenery, longest daylight hours, and for a brief time ability to capture sunlight on north facing buildings.

Winter provides clearest views in wooded areas and, when there is snow on the ground, an outline of cleared roads and drives.

Where are your prints made? In house on our Epson 9600 wide carriage printer.


How big are your digital photo files? We offer our aerial files in 'small medium large' depending on the need and end use.

Depending upon each client's need, we can provide jpg or tiff files, and size them to meet specific pixel or dimension requirements.

Plenty of data is captured by our 21 mega pixel Cannon 1Ds Mark III to make up to 40x60" prints.

How do we see our aerial pictures? We create a web proofs gallery and send you a hot link to view them, one at a time or play as a slideshow, and easily share them with other decision makers.

Do you send the files on cd or by email? We can do either, and for larger quantities via email, we use an FTP site.

What is 'FTP'? File Transfer Protocol, or a third party web site where we upload your images, then you receive an email with a hot link to open and save the files wherever you like on your computer.

We recommend at that time you also burn those digital files onto a cd for extra insurance. They eventually expire from the FTP site, as do the web proofs.

How long to you keep images on file? We triple back up all our client aerial photo files, on and off site, so they'll be available should you lose yours or want to buy different images later.

Aviation sectional chart, greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio

What about remote controlled aerial drones? This new technology is raising interest and questions. To help sort the issue, please visit our Aerial Drone question and answer page for more information.

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