Back in the 90’s I had a business that photographed golfers on several golf courses in the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina area. While they played, I would run to the photo lab, (yes, it was actually film in those days), get the film processed, run back to the golf course with the prints, and try to sell the golfers their pictures as they finished their round of golf. One day, one of the course managers asked me if I could find a plane and take some aerial photos of every hole on their two, 18 hole, course layout.
Thinking this would be easy money, I said yes. It took much longer than I had ever thought, and after doing circles in the sky for a couple hours, while looking through the camera, I was an interesting shade of green.
And, I was hooked on aerial photography.
Fast forward a few years after a move back to Maine, and in 2005, I again found myself climbing into a Cessna 172 to shoot aerials of a few different construction sites for some of Maine’s larger construction companies. As the work increased, I was in planes and helicopters more and more all over New England. And while most of my work continued to focus (pun intended) on construction projects, I started building a pretty serious collection of stock aerial photos.
When drones came onto the photography scene around 2014, it was a double edged sword. There was myself, and one other professional photographer, doing 95% of the aerial photography work in Maine. When the Hong Kong based company DJI started mass manufacturing drones, all of a sudden there were hundreds of overnight “aerial photographers” in Maine. It was the wild west of aerial photography, with people breaking the rules and flying their drones in a dangerous manner. Things have calmed down since then, and most of the overnight guys have moved on to some other shiny new penny. But the drones remain, and much of my business today revolves around using them for projects, shooting both stills and video.
Of the over 18,000 stock aerial photos Maine Imaging has of Maine and New England on line, not one is from a drone. The sensor in a drone camera is small, and doesn’t possess a great deal of dynamic range. Drones are a great tool for what they are, but most are limited when it comes to still photography. For the last 5 years or so, I have been using Canon’s 5DsR camera bodies, combined with “L series” lenses. The bodies put out a 50+MB image file for incredible resolution and detail. I have used these bodies to stitch together “mega panos” shot from a hovering helicopter, of places like Boston, Portland and Boothbay Harbor. These mega panos produce a museum quality print to well over 10’.
And the detail is so good, you can count window panes in windows from over half a mile away!
Over the years, I’ve done aerial photography work for several of Maine’s construction companies, most of Maine’s colleges, a handful of TV shows, lots of real estate companies, several magazines, a few of Maine’s cities, some engineering firms, hundreds of home owners, and a former US President.
I had the honor of photographing Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport for President George H.W. Bush back in September of 2014. When the President’s Aide called and said that the President wanted a print of one of my photos to hang in his Texas residence, I asked if I could hand deliver the print to the President, which turned out to be quite a process. After being vetted by the Secret Service, getting permission from the FAA to fly in the restricted airspace around Walker’s Point, and actually having lunch with a Secret Service agent.
The day came to meet the President. I was admitted to the compound and entered the Presidents office, where I met the President and his aide. After 15 minutes of talking with the President, I looked at the aide, silently asking if I should stay or go. The aide just nodded and smiled. I talked with President Bush for another half an hour, about everything from World War II and flying, to methods of fishing for Stripers. He was fascinated with the fact that I had printed his Walkers Point photograph on aluminum.
That print still hangs in his Houston, Texas, home.
Our equipment includes Canon professional DSLR’s, including 5DsR bodies (50mp), 5DMIV Body, Canon “L Series” lenses, GoPro cameras, and DJI Phantom 4 Professional drones. Our software includes the latest editions of Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Premier Pro, After Effects, and the Topaz suite.
When the aerial season winds down, we don’t just go into hibernation till next year. We travel the state looking for wildlife, Maine scenics, landscapes, seascapes, and long exposures. Visit our “Scenic” gallery to view these and more. Dave is a military plane buff, so if you are into old and new warbirds, check out his “Vintage Planes” and “Modern Planes” galleries. Want to see what a 16 minute exposure looks like? Visit the “Long Exposure” gallery. Looking for something specific? Use the search bar!