Jon Hope Aerial Photography: Blog en-us (C) Jon Hope, All rights reserved (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) Sun, 24 Apr 2016 23:51:00 GMT Sun, 24 Apr 2016 23:51:00 GMT Jon Hope Aerial Photography: Blog 120 120 Oakland Graffiti I shot this a few years ago when heading back to Hayward airport after shooting some aerial views of San Francisco. There isn't much to shoot in the last few minutes flying down Interstate 880, so I usually review what I've taken earlier in the shoot. I still keep an eye out for anything interesting out of the door as we are zipping along. A building roof grabbed my attention and you can see from the GoPro footage below I'm working really quickly. I see the roof, take a couple more shots, look around a bit more, snap a few quick aerials of downtown Oakland then get back to reviewing. I slowed down the video where I shot the graffiti as it was all over in a second or two. 

Turns out this is the work of two bay area graffiti artists, Swampy and GATS (Graffiti against the system). You can just about make out the BART line near the building, so this was probably the intended viewpoint, but I like how this looks shot on a long lens from 1000ft. This is the Instagram version of the original, I added a bit of tilt shift to emphasize the roof a bit more.

Aerial shot of Oakland graffiti artists Swampy and GATSOakland Graffiti from the airGATS and Swampy, 5th St and MLK in Oakland, 2012

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2016 BART GATS Graffiti Artist Instagram Oakland Swampy aerial photography tilt shift Sun, 24 Apr 2016 23:25:46 GMT
Fort Mifflin I usually don't get a window seat when I'm flying. I like the aisle so I can stretch my feet out even if it does mean the occasional bruise from the drinks cart. 

Last week I was on a short flight from Dulles to Philadelphia. The plane was pretty small as it was a 23 minute flight, and I had the whole row to myself. The row had just the one seat - 1A and just before landing at PHL I spotted this Fort and had enough time to take a picture with my Phone. 

I do like to shoot with real tilt shift lens, using a DSL with a gyro stabilizer from a helicopter, but sometimes a quick snap from a phone out of plane window does the trick !

Aerial photo of Fort Mifflin, a Revolutionary War era fort on the Delaware River near Philadelphia International AirportFort MifflinAn aerial view of Fort mifflin, a fort from 1771 that protected the Delaware River. These days it's located near the runway at PHL !

To get an idea how close this is to the airport and why I was so low when I took this photo - check out Google Maps.

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2016 Fort Mifflin Instagram PHL aerial photography Fri, 08 Apr 2016 23:14:31 GMT
Guest lecturer at Southport College

I was invited to speak about my experience as a photographer to students at Southport College in the UK. Looking back over a career of over 20 years it was fun to put together a presentation to show how I started in photographer, shot editorial portraits and then ended up specializing in aerial photography. 
I really enjoyed talking to the students and seeing the difference between starting out in photography now and when I left college. It was a very different world of photography when I started. No digital cameras, no web, no social media. Another big difference is that the path to a professional photographer usually included assisting other photographers first. This is the path I took, and at the time in the early 90’s most commercial photographers in London had assistants. It was a great experience enabling me to learn how to shoot everything from models to products to shooting a car in the studio. 
For college students now, the photography world has changed dramatically. There is very little assisting work, but there is a wealth of knowledge online. These days I could find out how to do an aerial shoot online, and have good suggestions of equipment to use and what pitfalls to avoid. I learnt the basics of aerial photography when assisting, loading cameras in the back of the helicopter and passing them to the photographer while they dangled out of the door.  Pretty soon I knew the specialized equipment I would need if I ever did this myself, but if I had never experienced this as an assistant I wouldn’t know what to do. 
Another huge shift is how you get your name out there and make the contacts you need for your first paid shoots. When I was assisting you met a lot of art directors and magazine photo editors. If you were really lucky and worked hard you might get a small shoot that the photographer you worked for couldn’t do, or didn’t want to do. The technical skill was there, you just needed to prove it to yourself and start getting real work in your portfolio. Social media makes a big impact on getting your name known. Art directors look at Instagram, and check out photographers sites and blogs. It’s a nice way of engaging with your potencial clients, and in many ways it’s a lot easier to tell the back story of how you got a certain shot. 
Comedian Harry Enfield in Covent Garden, 1988Harry EnfieldThis was my first magazine shoot and was shot for Time Out London
This was my first magazine shoot. A quick portrait of an up and coming comedian Harry Enfield for Time Out. He ended up being very well know in the UK, and in the US he is the voice of the Travelocity gnome. I was a little nervous and Harry very kindly bought me a coffee before we started the shoot. This shot was used in the magazine. It was an unusual shoot for another reason, the film I shot it on. There was a very tight deadline, the photos had to be at the magazine pretty much straight after the shoot. London had lots of great E6 labs at the time, and I could get a roll of slide film processed in a hour, however this wasn’t quick enough. I ended up shooting this on Polaroid Polapan instant film. This was an instant black and white transparency film that used a special hand held processor. 
After the shoot I went over to the Time Out office and processed the film on the photo editors desk. Polapan had a nice quality to it, though not super sharp. The downside was that film was extremely fragile and prone to scratching. 
I have come full circle in my photography, starting off with my first published photo which was an aerial shot, and ending up specializing in aerial photography. My advice to the students was to shoot what you love when you can, even if thats not the type of photography you make a living from. It will keep you creative and give you some great stories.


]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2016 BTEC HND Harry Enfield Polapan Southport College aerial photography lecture Wed, 30 Mar 2016 23:33:00 GMT
Photography exhibition at the UN Paris Summit on Climate Change I'm honored to have one of my favorite aerial images selected for inclusion in a photography exhibition at the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris. The Lucie Foundation curated a show of 52 images to be displayed in the Blue Zone at COP21 from Nov 30 to Dec 11, 2015. Representatives from almost every country in the world are there to agree on what to do about climate change.

Curious about the conference? The BBC provides a guide to the conference, the participants and the issues



San Francisco's Sunset District Aerial Photo by Jon HopeSunrise in the SunsetI took this shot on a crystal clear morning over the Sunset district of San Francisco. Despite the hopeful name, this is a neighborhood that is usually covered in fog.

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2015 COP21 Global Climate Change Lucie Foundation UN aerial photography san francisco Sun, 29 Nov 2015 23:34:19 GMT
Helicopters vs. Drones I took part in a discussion on the pros and cons of using a helicopter or drone for aerial photography which was featured on Zenfolio's blog page.

Olympic photographer Jeff Cable made some good points and has some cool aerial photography and video that is very different from what I can get from a helicopter. Maybe there is room for a DJI Phantom or Inspire in my camera kit after all. Yet another thing to try and fly !

Check out the complete post here

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2015 DJI Phantom Drones Zenfolio aerial photography helicopter", "DJI Inspire" Mon, 19 Oct 2015 22:23:00 GMT
Seminar on aerial photography I'm doing a seminar on aerial photography at San Carlos Flight Center this week.

I'll be covering :

  • My background in photography
  • How I ended up shooting aerials
  • Planning an aerial shoot
  • The gear I use and recommend
  • Shooting Tips
  • Safety 
  • and we’ll have plenty of time for Q&A at the end

Here's a link to the notes so you don't have to take any :)

Come check it out, it's free !

Best camera to use for aerial photographyShooting TipsSet your lens to manual, and tape your lens lens to infinity. Tape down your wide angle lens hood so it doesn't come off.

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2015 San Carlos Flight Center aerial photography bay area Tue, 14 Jul 2015 01:54:00 GMT
London, not quite from the air London is trickier to shoot from the air than most US cities. Unless you have a twin-engine helicopter (very expensive) you can only fly up and down the River Thames.  For this trip I had a look from a couple of tall buildings to get an idea of what it would be like. 

The City of London has some interesting new buildings, and the skyline has really changed since I lived there in the 90's.They also have great nicknames such as The Walkie-Talkie, The Gherkin and The Cheese Grater.  While many of the new buildings are within the square mile of the Financial District my favorite one isn't. The Shard is south of the River, and dominates the London Skyline. It would be great to get a similar shot of the Shard to the one I have of the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco. One of these days I'll have to bite the bullet and do an aerial shoot in London.

Instagram photo of Tower Bridge and the Tower of LondonTower Bridge and the Tower of London

The Shard and 20 Fenchurch StreetThe Shard and the Walkie-Talkie

The Gherkin and The Cheese GraterThe Gherkin and The Cheese Grater

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2015 Instagram London The Shard The Walkie-Talkie Tower Bridge aerial photography Mon, 15 Jun 2015 01:01:15 GMT
56th Communication Arts Photography Annual Aerial view of the Bay Bridge toll plaza included in the 56th Communication Arts Photography AnnualCommunication Arts

My aerial view of the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza has been awarded a place in the prestigious Communications Arts 56th Photography Competition and Annual. The Annual will be published in July. I am so honored to be included. Thank you Communication Arts!

Here's what they say: Of the 4,421 entries to the 56th Photography Annual, only 157 were accepted, representing the work of 154 photographers, making the Photography Annual the most exclusive major photography competition in the world.

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2015 56th Photography Annual Bay Bridge Communication Arts Phase One aerial photography Sat, 18 Apr 2015 21:07:43 GMT
Aerial Scout Monday morning was a good excuse to do some scouting for some new aerial shoots. I was looking for some different scenery to shoot and check out the Golden Gate Bridge again in some different light. This time I would be flying rather than shooting, but there is still plenty to prep for. My ride today would be a Robinson R44 Raven 1 from San Carlos Flight Center. I've flown the R44 before and shot from the back of one quite a few times but none have had the fancy paint job this one has. It's the perfect color for the bay area if you're a Giants fan :)

Pre-flighting the helicopter for an aerial scoutPre-flighting the helicopter

Oakland is a challenge to fly through as you are often restricted to one route. Sometimes you get to fly right over the terminal which can make for some cool shots but you can't be certain you'll go the same way twice. The airport looked very similar today to this shot I took on an earlier shoot

Aerial photograph of Southwest Airlines planes at Oakland AirportSouthwest Airlines at Oakland Airport

As I wasn't shooting today I used my bluetooth GPS to log my route. I usually use this to track my flight so I can geotag my aerial photos in Lightroom but it's also a great tool to remember where you were and to locate the cool spots you saw from the air for future reference. I used a Bad Elf BE-GPS-2200. I chose this one as it's very quick acquiring the satellites, is easy to use as a stand alone device, has great battery life and straightforward to export a gpx file for use in Lightroom. Here's the route I took for my scouting trip. Napa looked promising for an upcoming aerial shoot.

GPS route from my Bad Elf GPS

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2015 Bad Elf GPS Instagram OAK Oakland Airport San Carlos Flight Center Southwest aerial photography bay area helicopter san francisco scout Thu, 19 Feb 2015 03:25:00 GMT
APA 2nd place Two of my aerials are included the APA San Francisco Something Personal Exhibition :) Both came joint 2nd place !

The show was great, I got to check out some fantastic photography from the other photographers included in the show. You can buy the exhibition catalogue here

Award winning aerial photography of Iceland and the Bay AreaAPA Something Personal 2014 Second place

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2014 2nd Place APA aerial photography awards bay area something personal exhibition Mon, 08 Dec 2014 01:36:00 GMT
I’m in a museum! If you are in New York City check out Nature’s Fury at the American Museum of Natural History. One of my aerials is featured in the exhibit.

Sunrise in the Sunset

The exhibit runs from November 14, 2014 – August 9, 2015 and “Sunrise in the Sunset” is featured to illustrate the need for earthquake retrofitting in San Francisco. 

I can’t wait to check it out and see a 8 foot wide version of the shot :)

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2014 aerial aerial photography amnh amnhnyc earthquake museum naturesfury retrofit san francisco sunset district Tue, 25 Nov 2014 19:55:00 GMT
What does a $35, 000 digital back get you? A personal review of the Phase One IQ250 I’ve wanted to know the answer to this for a while. You can read online reviews to get the general consensus, but nothing beats testing it for yourself. After all, we all have our different workflows, techniques and subject matter.

I fully admit I’m obsessed by sharpness. I currently use a Canon 5DMk3. When switching from medium/large format film to 35mm digital a decade ago and I was disappointed by quality. It seems the newer the camera is, the stronger the anti-aliasing filter becomes. This means I have to compensate by sharpening my images more and more during postproduction each time I upgrade to a new camera. I was looking forward to testing a camera and digital back combination that did not have an anti-alias filter and hopefully see some sharper images.

On a slightly foggy San Francisco July morning I got to see for myself. The weather was just about good enough for a test, with a little wispy fog but still had good overall visibility.

I had only used the Phase One camera with the IQ250 CMOS back once before for about 5 minutes, so I was a little apprehensive about using a new camera in the air. Even though this medium format camera is quite a bit larger than my 35mm Canon DSLR, once the gyrostabilizer was attached it was all nicely balanced. I checked the focus of each lens, taped them down at infinity, and was good to go. 

Phase One camera, IQ250 CMOS digital back and a 55mm f/2.8 Schneider Kreuznach Lens on a Kenlabs KS-6 Gyro Settings:

  • As usual, I placed the camera in manual mode for full control.
  • I set the ISO at 100 because it was quite bright and I wanted to come away with as much detail as possible.
  • I kept the aperture around f5 or f5.6 to keep the shutter speed high.
  • For exposure, I usually rely on the meter in the camera and usually keep it 1/3-stop underexposed. So why not check the histogram on the camera back and preview the shots? A helicopter costs around $10-$20 per minute, so every second counts and you can miss a good shot by looking away for a second. The shots that weren’t exposed properly could probably be brought back in Capture One.

The photos below don’t have any sharpness applied. 

1a. This is the Oakland Arena and Coliseum.

 Aerial photo of the Oakland Coliseum and Oakland Arena Click to see a larger image

1b. Zoomed in at 100% is a detail of the Oakland A’s mound. You can see the groundskeepers mowing and read the banner clearly. 

Click to see a larger image

2a. This is Fort Point, which is a civil war era fort on the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Aerial view of Fort Point in San Francisco, a civil war fort next to the Golden Gate BridgeClick to see a larger image

2b. At 100% you can make out the brick detail and even see an orange cone on the roof.

Aerial photo of Fort Point in San FranciscoClick to see a larger image

3a. I had one shot, however, that really demonstrated how good this new Phase One IQ250 back and Schneider lens combination is. This is an aerial view of downtown San Francisco shot from near Golden Gate Park. It’s shot on a 55mm lens so it’s a wide-angle shot. I really like how you can see the fog layer and haze and the tops of the tallest building are darker because they are above the fog.

Click to see a larger image

3b. Now check it out at 100%. You can see the Transamerica building, the Bay Bridge and cranes across the bay at the Port of Oakland. But if I you look closely you can see something on the hill in the distance. It might be hard to see in a screenshot online, but on my screen it’s obvious.

Click to see a larger image

3c. At 200%, you can see the antennas on Mount Diablo, which is 31 miles away from where I was shooting over San Francisco. All while shooting handheld from a moving helicopter at f5. Now that is detail.

Click to see a larger image

What I learned from shooting with the Phase One camera.

  • I hadn’t realized until this shoot quite how much I relied on a zoom lens to compose my shots. Because I couldn’t use a zoom lens, I had to give far more instructions to the pilot and adjust our altitude a lot more.
  • When flying an orbit around a subject, I depend partly on a fast frame rate to help capture the right composition. The Phase One shoots slower, so I needed to do few more orbits to try and get the composition lined up. My old Canon 1ds was even slower than this and had buffer issues. Shooting with the Phase One will take a bit of practice to get used to a slower frame rate again.

What does a $35,000 digital back get you? Amazing sharpness and detail. If you need the detail in your shots so they can be blown up very large then nothing else comes close. I was so impressed with the results I picked out a couple of favorites to print. They look great printed as a 30" x 45" digital c-print and could go larger still.

A special thanks to Ken at Phase One for letting me test the camera at such short notice :)

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2014 Camera Review Golden Gate Bridge Oakland Arena Phase One IQ250 aerial photography bay area san francisco Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:09:00 GMT
2014 International Photography Awards I received an Honorable Mention in the 2014 International Photography awards for my recent shot of the toll plaza  This year the awards received over 27,000 entires and it's the 2nd year in row I've had something accepted in the Aerial category !

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2014 Bay Bridge IPA International photography awards aerial photography bay area honorable mention san francisco toll plaza Tue, 07 Oct 2014 20:02:00 GMT
A classic piece of Aviation and Design Bell 47 at Chinook Helicopters, Abbotsford, BC

This is a Bell 47 G-2 from about 1952.

It's rare to get to see a part of aviation history up close and personal outside of a museum. A classic combination of good design and practical use,  an early version of this Arthur Young designed helicopter hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Chinook Helicopters in Abbotsford, British Columbia still use the Bell 47 for their initial flight training. I got to fly this very helicopter for an hour, it was a fun ride :)

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2014 Arthur Young Bell 47 Instagram abbotsford aerial photography aviation history chinook helicopters cyxx flight training Tue, 23 Sep 2014 02:35:00 GMT
Port of Oakland Containers Arial photo of shipping containers in the Port of Oakland from Maersk, Evergreen,CMA CGM, China Shipping and Hapag-Lloyd.Port of Oakland Containers on Instagram

Multicolored shipping containers in the Port of Oakland from Maersk, Evergreen,CMA CGM, China Shipping and Hapag-Lloyd.

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2014 CMA CGM China Shipping Containers Evergreen Hapag-Lloyd Instagram Maersk Port of Oakland aerial photography bay area Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:48:00 GMT
Phase One Gyro Promotion

Phase One used one of my favorite images that I shot with the IQ 250 a couple of weeks back for new promotion  The image detail really is that good !

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2014 Bay Bridge Kenyon Gyro Toll Plaza aerial photography phase one IQ250 testimonial Mon, 21 Jul 2014 23:22:00 GMT
Out with the old Aerial view of the old span of the Bay Bridge Being dismantled New and old Span of the Bay Bridge

Out with the old and in with the new. The old span is slowly being dismantled on the Bay Bridge. The smoke at the bottom of the frame was from some welding or cutting on the old span.  

The old span of the bay bridge being removed with the new span in the backgroundThe old span of the bay bridge being removed

Here's an example of the detail from the Phase One IQ 250 CMOS back. The above shot is pretty much full frame apart from the horizon being corrected. Below is a 100% zoom of the workers on the old span.

Aerial detail of workers dismantling the old span of the Bay BridgeWorkers dismantle the old span of the Bay Bridge


]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2014 Bay Bridge Phase One IQ250 aerial photography bay area construction Tue, 08 Jul 2014 01:04:00 GMT
Testing a phase one camera Testing a 50 megapixel Phase One camera yesterday morning, I didn't want to give it back :)


]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2014 Phase One Phase One IQ250 aerial photography camera test Tue, 01 Jul 2014 23:07:00 GMT
Vote for me ! I’ve entered some new work in the The Open a world wide photography competition. In 2012 my Sunrise in the Sunset shot was included in the final 200 images.

I entered a night time aerial view of San francisco, and five aerials from my Iceland trip. My submission included two new abstract views of the Ölfusá River

Please vote for my entries - You need to click on the heart on each photo to vote !

If you click on these images you’ll be taken to The Open and you can vote for the ones your like - Thanks :)



]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2014 Aerial Photographer Jon Hope abstract aerial photography helicopter iceland photography competition reykjavik Helicopters the open Ölfusá River Sun, 01 Jun 2014 11:21:00 GMT
A trip to the museum ( The Helicopter Museum) Back in January on a trip to the UK, I was looking for a fun afternoon escape from the dreary winter rain. The Helicopter Museum near my parent’s place in Somerset was well worth the visit, especially at a mere £6.50.

The museum has the largest collection of helicopters in the world. Two hangars are crammed full of an incredible assortment of models. It was hard a little hard to appreciate the size of the helicopters as they were so closely placed, but you will get to see helicopters that you wouldn’t see anywhere else.

The visit was part history lesson, part trip down memory lane. I got to see a Westland Dragonfly, a helicopter that my dad flew around in sometime in the early 50’s. I also saw a Westland Whirlwind in which I took one of my first helicopter flights when I was 16 or 17, only few months before they where retired from service with the RAF.


Westland Dragonfly

The museum also has a good collection of Russian helicopters including the massive Mil Mi-8, which holds 24 passengers, 3 crew, and clocks in at 60 feet in length. Not to be outdone, the infamous Mil Mi-24 holds only 8 troops, but has staggering array of weapons. I really wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of either.


Mil Mi-24 Hind

The Kamov Ka-26 is one of the strangest looking helicopters. In the photo below, you can see two sets of rotor blades that run in opposite directions. And it features an optional passenger pods that can be detached (preferable not mid-flight.)


Kamov Ka-26

It was also good to see one of the US helicopters on display is a Hiller UH-12C, built in Palo Alto, California near my home in the Bay Area. When you are visiting Northern California, check out the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, CA. They have some fun stuff too.

Two things really stood out for me.

Scale. I‘ve flown in a Robinson R22 and at the size of a smart car this is one of the smallest helicopters in the world. For contrast, this was placed next to a huge old French helicopter, Sud Aviation’s SA321F Super Frelon (Super Hornet) which carried around 35 passengers, and was used by an inter island airline in Greece.

Variety. The Helicopter Museum has around 80 helicopters, with a few repeats. As a museum that started as a private collection, this is a real mish-mash of models, from the menacing to the silly. Honestly, I am amazed some of these ever flew. But my visit was definitely a fun day out. 


Robinson R22 (foreground ) and a Sud Aviation’s SA321F Super Frelon

]]> (Jon Hope Aerial Photography) 2014 Hiller UH-12C Kamov Ka-26 Mil Mi-24 Hind Sud Aviation SA321F Westland aerial photography aviation helicopter helicopter museum photography rain robinson r22 somerset westland dragonfly westland whirlwind Sun, 23 Feb 2014 19:13:00 GMT