Photographing New York City from the air
As a treat, I booked 2 spots on a helicopter flight over New York with FlyNYON, for Sara and myself. We took the open-door / doors-off flight at sunset. It was as incredible an experience as I had hoped for. I have been fascinated for a while with the idea of seeing and photographing Manhattan from the air.
I took along my Sony A1 camera (B&H / Amazon), and the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM zoom lens (B&H / Amazon). I had debated taking a longer range zoom … but in the end I wish I had brought along a 16-35mm f/2.8 instead, because several times 24mm wasn’t wide enough to get the entire view in. I found that I wanted to get more of the scene in the frame, rather than select details within the cityscape.
My camera settings ranged between 1/800 and 1/1000 shutter speed, and an aperture of either f/3.5 or f/4 and an ISO of either 1600 – 2000. I kept the lens slightly stopped down for a tiny bit of extra sharpness compared to the wide open aperture. But the wide-ish aperture still allowed me a high enough shutter speed to help battle camera shake. These settings were what I had to work with because of the time of day that I chose the flight for. How sharp where the images? Sharp enough to still look great.
You do want the doors-off experience, as opposed to the enclosed doors-on flight. For those who are hesitant about helicopter rides, thinking they are scary — helicopter rides are nothing like light aircraft. The flight in a helicopter feels so much smoother and more solid. I love it. Highly recommended.