An Aerial Photography Adventure / by Ricardo Seah

An Aerial Photography Experience Over Vancouver

 Shot above downtown Vancouver from a Harbour Air Seaplane 

Shot above downtown Vancouver from a Harbour Air Seaplane 

Back story 

A couple of Fridays ago I attended the Vancouver Tourism Awards Gala at Canada Place at 6.45am (yes that's right in the morning!!! Who holds a gala that early!?!?! Ok ok calm down Ricardo, I'm sure they have their reasons..). Anyways the Gala ended at about 9am and so I decided I'd walk around the waterfront area to soak in the views of the snowcapped mountains as it had snowed the night before.

View of North Vancouver

I mean look at that view! It was gorgeous!! So I continued to walk around the convention centre and of course I'm greeted by the seaplanes by the waterfront as they took off and landed. It was not raining (a mega plus for this time of year in Vancouver) and the thought of capturing the snowcapped mountains and the city from one of those seaplanes raced through my brains.

Vancouver seaplane harbour air

It was so so tempting.. But of course I had to act rationally and so I put up a poll on my Instagram story asking if you guys thought I should go or not. I waited awhile at the lounge of the Seaplane airport and let the results come in.. needless to say, I let the results (96% said "Yes, do it!") guide my decision. 

Ready for an adventure
harbour air

I ran up to the counter to get myself on the next scenic flight tour around Vancouver, and in 15 minutes I was boarding my first ever seaplane flight. Woohoo!!! I was so excited! 

Thankfully it wasn't a full flight and I rushed to the front to be the third person to board, and was able to pick out a good seat at the back with an unobstructed view (window seat goodness).

Sat through a little flight safety video and a welcome by the friendly captain and off we went taxiing the runway (or water-way.. not sure what it's called) and up into the air with a fanatic view of North Vancouver from my side.

We went up north and checked out the mountains that had been covered in snow from the night before which was just breathtaking.

From there we circled around and made our way to Vancouver and got a good view of Kits Beach and downtown Vancouver before going over Stanley park and landing back at the waterfront.

It was definitely a great experience and I highly recommend it! The views are just amazing and the pilot really knew where to take us for good shots. Also, it will be one of the softest airplane landings you'll experience.

Check out the HarbourAir website if you're interested. I did the extended panorama tour and it was definitely worth it. They apparently also do flights to Bowen Island, Whistler and Victoria. Definitely not paid by them to say this (but of course if you work for Harbour Air please consider hiring me for a shoot). It's fantastic way to see Vancouver!


A mix of some of the shots I took with my phone and cameras 


Aerial Photography Tips:

  • Have the right lens attached to the body of your camera before the flight.

    • Trust me, you DO NOT want to be changing lenses while flying. It can get quite bumpy, space is confined, you're gear might roll all over the cabin and you are going to miss shots.
    • What I did was shoot with my phone and two camera bodies with two different lenses on each so that I was able to get a range of shots. Now of course not everyone will have two camera bodies in which case having one camera body with a zoom and your camera phone with you to capture wide shots will suffice. 
  • Sit either right at the back or right at the front of the aircraft. 

    • Unless you want to get the wing in all your shots (not necessarily a bad thing but just my preference)
  • Don't attempt to manual focus, just let the camera work its auto-focus magic.

    • Do yourself a favour and just let the camera handle the focusing. As long as the window is clear and clean there shouldn't be a problem.
  • Use a fast shutter speed. 
    • The plane is going to be moving fast and its going to be a little bumpy. I found myself fighting hard to stabilise my camera for shots while trying to fight the G-forces as the pilot pulled and rolled to steady the aircraft.
  • Shoot on continuous high setting or the highest continuous shooting mode your camera will allow.

    • This will maximise the chance of getting that awesome shot.
  • Make sure you have your gear strapped to you. 

    • The last thing you want is to lose grip of your camera or your phone mid-flight and have it roll around the cabin. 

  • DO NOT just look through your camera viewfinder the entire flight.

    • Trust me I got super nauseous looking through 3 different cameras constantly throughout the flight. And this is coming from someone who usually doesn't get nauseous on flights (I've been on everything from small planes, to commercial and military aircraft) but it's something about constantly looking through different zooms that messes with your orientation. 

    • I recommend taking breaks in-between shooting to live in the moment and enjoy the experience. 

As always thank you for coming on this journey with me! I hope you enjoyed this little adventure in the air and that it inspires you to get out there and capture some awesome shots!

Till next time, stay tuned on my instagram for the latest shots and and news on my insta stories. 

 

Of course, if you liked this or have any questions please leave me a like and or a comment below :) Take care, keep warm, keep exploring, and get those amazing shots!