There is nothing like getting up in a small plane to give you the lay of the land, and there is no substitute for the perspective that an aerial photo can provide. I needed some images of the Bishop area for a book project I’m working on, and so I decided to hire Geoff Pope of Black Mountain Air Service to take me up for an early morning spin above the northern Owens Valley. Geoff has plenty of experience flying the skies above the Eastern Sierra. He is often hired by professional photographers and sightseers, and he also tracks radio-collared deer and bighorn sheep for the Department of Fish & Game.
We took off from the Bishop airport just before the sun hit the mountains. With the sun at a low angle, many of the earth’s topographical features can be more pronounced, especially when using a polarizer and looking/shooting at an angle to the sun’s rays. One of the main things to do to assure sharp photos from a moving plane is to use a high shutter speed, and if your camera or lens is capable of vibration reduction, use that too. I used my 24-70mm f2.8 lens with a polarizing filter, and shutter speeds of 1/250 to 1/1000 sec, and all of my images looked sharp. Here is a small sample of the Eastern Sierra from 2000 feet on an early summer morning.