Friday, July 3, 2015


One thing about my interest in aerial photography that's definitely for sure is my preference for vertical, straight-down photos.

I like oblique ones, photos taken out a side window looking out over an area. Often you get very beautiful scenes. But they don't appeal to me as much as literally looking at the ground.

I can't fully put a finger on why. I think it's because of the depth, even though you're going to get way more depth looking out over an area than just straight down. I just don't feel as high looking out. It's a rare perspective - how often do you get that high, up in a plane - but to me it's not too far from being on a high balcony or atop huge hill. It's great, but not as, for some reason, appealing or high to me.

I'm talking about this because I went on a flight today, and for the first time ever, ever, I was able to capture my own aerial photos of my house, my old neighbourhood, and other various landmarks familiar to and frequented by me often. Sure, I have Google Earth. And all my NAPL-bought aerial photos. In that I have static imagery taken a couple of years ago or more, on a screen.

Not remotely close to the same as being up there, using your own camera, with the time of the day and the lens you have, etc. etc....

I think it goes way, way deeper than that, though. For instance, for the first time ever I caught a picture of my street - looking straight down onto it. I've never seen my house with my own camera that way before. Despite camera shake (my f/stop was too high) I could make out the kayak in the yard, the blue tarp over a gardening basket, even a small white container my mother uses to collect weeds in, lying in shadow in the front yard. The new tree that was put in. The green bin and recycling bin at the end of the driveway. What I find hilarious is that the garbage truck also shows up in the image, at the end of the street, workers in bright jackets visible as they collect the recycling several houses away. I can see activity happening in that one of several images I caught looking down on the street. There's obvious context.

Plus, and this is no doubt the same for everyone, there's the whole sentimental aspect of looking at your house, which is big and homely, and seeing it as a small little landmark amongst all the others, knowing all your possessions and livelihoods are under that small roof, on that little property. Being in the air makes everything tiny, distances short. There's that whole 'getting a sense of your surroundings' and how small you actually are in the big picture - that is, the whole neighbourhood, the city, etc.

I took no more than twenty or so pictures of the street I grew up on, because today was the first time I ever got to do so after over a decade's imagining it. The open space! It looked kind of small and average to me as a kid, but seeing it from the air, it's like the opposite - it looks obvious and big, laid back. Neighbourhoods aren't built that way anymore.

Orthophotos are appealing to me because you get interesting context without anything in the way, a great perspective of distance that's true (you could look many miles away in an oblique and the perspective would make it seem much shorter than it actually is) and the detail is much greater. And for a place or landmark I know, the level of familiarity and context is so high it's extremely pleasing. And it's my own image, not something from a satellite, with ultra-high resolution at only several thousand feet. Great colour, too.

When I came home afterwards, I took great pleasure in seeing certain things that I saw from the sky minutes ago, such as the police car at the intersection near me or simply the buildings and houses. It's such a different change between sky and ground. That may sound obvious, but you really have to experience it. They're re-working the entire road behind my yard. It was so much more obvious and 'there' from the air than I expected. I saw familiar machines I've seen for weeks in their same places. It was just amazing being able to get that kind of perspective of what I know is going on.

In September, I'm going to do the flying school at Rockcliffe. You can get your pilot's licence there. I think learning to fly would be a very good thing for me. No, I can't take aerial photos and fly a plane, but I can get help. And flying is simply just interesting to me. The pilot talked to ATC at the Ottawa airport to get clearance over Barrhaven so I could get those pictures (Barrhaven is under a departure/arrival path) and we actually got over there. I thought that was cool.
Never expected to get a shot like this - exactly the kind I've always wanted. That digger at the top was there yesterday, there it is now...and the recycling is being collected. I've never got an image of my own street so high and clear like this before.

It's just the stupid camera shake. There will be other times. I have a venue now - Rockcliffe.

Check out my new Facebook Page for this sort of thing:

Red Cloud

No comments: