I have been shooting aerial photography in Melbourne and Australia from a Cessna 172 with great success for many years. People have said to me that you can't get the same results from a fixed wing as you can from a helicopter, but I disagree. Although in some scenarios a helicopter is the only option, the Cessna will do the job on most shoots. I have spent so much time flying in these little airplanes I just love them, they are so reliable and easy to fly even I have landed one a few times, under instruction of course.
So, what I am going to do now is explain a few things that make your aerial photography flight a success and get the shots you need to get. The first thing I always do is to set up my camera gear, I usually place my camera bag on the rear seat behind the passenger seat. I have a camera bag backpack, a Crumpler to be exact that I can leave open by lifting the back up. I can then leave my cameras and lens within arms reach for easy access. If it is a short flight I sometimes leave my gear on the floor in the rear of the plane between me and the pilot. This way I can reach down and grab my camera when needed. Of course, whenever you are shooting with the window open you should always use a camera strap! I have tried lots of camera straps but find most of them so bulky and too long. There is enough going on once airborne and being tangled up with camera straps is not what you need. I have a dog that I train with a whistle, unfortunately the whistle no longer has a lanyard as I use this as a camera strap while in the air. It is strong enough and all you need to secure the camera, just don’t tell all those camera strap folks. The only place I don’t use this type of lanyard is when in a helicopter as the door is off for the whole flight and you want the camera to be very secure. I will talk some more about pre-flight preparation and working in control zones in my next post.