Travel Photography: Landscapes, Aerials, and Skylines


Lesson Info

Aerial Photography

I'm gonna take a minute to talk a little bit about aerial photography. This is also something we go into quite a bit in the bootcamp, but this is a big, big, big topic right now, of course. Should you use drones to do your travel photography and your travel images? Well, putting the legality of how you use them aside for a minute, my first answer would be absolutely yes. It's a great way to see places in a new way. You can get high up and get perspectives and show what a town or a city looks like in a way that we never could before. Unless you rented a helicopter or plane, which no one was really doing, and the people who were doing it were very successful with it, but now it's become something that anybody can do and has access to. So, I think that they're great for travel photography because they are your wide shot, your establishing shot. You've got your wide angle lens when you're down here doing landscapes, You could have your wide angle lens when you're up there when you're doing...

your drone work for your travel photos. So a couple good examples of that, you know like the town of Telluride for instance, you can't, if you do the hike up into the mountain, you always look back at the town and it looks out to the valley. But the mountain you're on is really the backdrop you want. But you can't get elevated and get the whole town in the foreground, with the mountain in the background unless you have a way to elevate it over here. So a drone gives you that good perspective that you might not otherwise be able to get in certain circumstances and certain situations. Now, of course you want, if you're using it for, for sale and commercial you gotta have a UAS FAA, a UAS is Unmanned Aerial System pilot's, a remote pilot's license. There's a course you gotta take, there's a whole process, but you become a licensed pilot, you learn where you can and can't fly in the areas that are restricted, how to gain permission to photograph and work in those areas. So it's very important. I definitely go into detail in the boot camp on that, but I think absolutely you wanna have aerial as part of your part of your arsenal. I think the biggest challenge is gonna be the urban areas. Helicopters and airports, most of them are in restricted airspace areas, which is within five miles of an airport. And so most major cities tend to be within five miles of an airport, including small regional airports. So L. A.'s a great example, but it'll be very challenging, but you can actually call air traffic control and ask permission and go to a certain height and potentially get the photo. You may find it's easier to just rent a helicopter. So, more expensive, but, you know, it's the way to do it. It's safer, too. Nature areas in the right class of airspace, you get could be the easiest. Most nature areas fall into the general class, right? In Class G air space, and so you wanna be cognizant of that, you wanna be careful you're not in National Parks or federal areas that restrict drone use. So you need to know what you're doing when you do it. You have to be responsible for it, if you're planning to sell your work. If you're doing it as a hobby or doing it for some other reason, there's a different set of criteria, but I'm talking specifically about travel photography as a marketplace tool. So, aerial is really great. There's other ways to do aerials especially in urban areas, and these are some of my tricks. Helicopter we talked about, fixed wing, you know, like a little Cessna or something like that could be good. Open the window or whatever, or take off a door or two. I've done both of those many times. Parking garages tend to be great. You wanna go downtown somewhere and find a ten story parking garage, it's completely flat on top with a perfect little ledge that overlooks the whole city. And you can get nice long exposures and so on. I think they tend to be great. Now, technically, they're in private property, maybe you need permission, but I think, generally speaking, you're gonna be alright. Maybe pay the parking pass fee. You can tell I live in L.A. 'cause they charge you for everything: parking, everywhere. But parking garages are great. They get you, you know especially if they're the really high ones. And they're open all the way around so you can get different levels, different floors. I've always used that trick for myself, pretty great. And of course, high rise buildings: being on porches, shooting through windows. All the time, I shoot through windows. So you just make sure you push the lens all the way up to the window. So that you don't get glare or reflection. I definitely have done it. I remember when I was in Cuba, the only way to do aerials there was to, 'cause you're not bringing in any drones a long time ago was that I shot a lot of the city skylines through the windows of restaurants in the top of the hotels. It was the best way to do it, it was the only way to do it. You weren't renting any helicopters there.

Award-winning outdoor photographer Ian Shive shows how to capture the cityscapes and backdrops of your travels. He'll discuss composition, gear and how to successfully capture iconic skylines and viewpoints with a fresh perspective. Round out your portfolio with scenic landscapes that are print worthy.



  • Great class! Lots of useful information on on how to take, market and sell your photographs, including what constitutes editorial vs commercial work.