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San Francisco photographer Jon Hope specializes in location portraits and aerial photography.

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Posts tagged aerial photography

Icelandic Roads from the air

I only had time for a quick shoot during my Iceland trip but the landscape near Reykjavik changes pretty dramatically in only 15 minutes of flying.

Bláfjallavegur Road looked amazing curving through the snow covered lava fields near the Thrihnukagigur Volcano. The lava fields had some interesting patterns so I spent a little time trying to get some more abstract views with a hint of road for scale. 

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Colourful apartment buildings in Reykjavik, Iceland

Scandinavian houses use a lot of colour for the exteriors. I’m not sure why, but it makes for some great photos. It’s good to see that the tradition also applies to larger buildings such as these blocks of flats ( apartments ) in Reykjavik. 

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Last minute aerial shoot in Iceland

I had a great last minute aerial shoot on my short trip to Iceland. Reykjavik Helicopters made it happen with almost no notice on a cold but clear morning only a couple of hours before my flight back to London. Thanks guys - it was the highlight of my trip.

It was pretty windy, check out the horizontal windsock !

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I concentrated on mostly new abstract landscapes as the really dramatic scenery was too far away to fly to and make it back in time for my UK flight this trip. Stayed tuned for some shots from the shoot.

It’s turned into a bit of a tradition for each aerial shoot to take a shot of the back of the helicopter from my position sitting out of the door on each trip. I call them my tail rotor shots, and I’m getting quite a collection. This one is over the bay bridge in San Francisco from an earlier blog post.

These two tail rotor shots from Iceland are maybe 10 minutes apart, and you can see how dramatically the landscape changes.

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A couple of weeks ago I did a dusk shoot over San Francisco - Something that really challenges the limits of even the newest cameras. I have a bunch more editing to do, but here’s a taster.

This is shot on a Canon 5D Mk3  at 1/40 second  10000 ISO !

I’m a finalist for the 2012 World Open of Photography

One of my aerial shots of San francisco made it into the final 200 photos for the 2012 World Open of Photography

I 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. So when I saw the opportunity to shoot these long straight streets, I grabbed it. I really love that red siding on the house in the middle. My eye is drawn directly there. Then I start seeing all of the other houses around it. 

Jon Hope's finalist entry for the 2012 World Photography Open, and Aerial of the Sunset District of San Francisco

It’s a great feeling to be selected for the final round, and to see some excellent photography from the other finalists.

Election Day !

San Francisco’s City Hall on Van Ness Avenue. This was shot on a Canon 45mm TS-E Lens and the blurring is in camera not photoshopped !

Playoff Time !

Here’s a Tilt-Shift of ATT park, Home of the San Francisco Giants.

This shot and other aerials are available for sale at my online store: store.jonhope.com

Apple’s 3D map vs Actually Being There

When I saw the 3D map in Apple’s latest iOS 6 features video I thought it was funny to see they show off this new feature by flying around the Transamerica Pyramid. It’s a view I know pretty well!

I can see how the 3D feature could be handy for scouting out aerial locations to shoot from ahead of time, but you don’t get the sense of perspective that you get from using different lenses. It’s a little whacked.

Here’s a comparison between what I can see in the new Maps App on my iPad and what I actually shot from almost the same position. In my aerial shot the Transamerica Pyramid seems to be shooting out of the ground and is far more dramatic. Needless to say, I still like my shot better.

The top picture is a rendered view of the Transamerica Pyramid from iOS 6 Maps 3D.

And this second one is my shot taken from a Hughes 500c helicopter, with a Canon 5D Mk2 16-35mm at 16mm.

I was near Fresno on a client shoot last week, and not surprisingly saw a lot of  vineyards, fields and orchards from the air. The Central Valley is massive and covers 22,500 square miles, much of which is farmland.

This colorful field caught my eye. I’ll have to make another trip just for stills to get some more. There is a lot of potential for cool abstract shots in the central valley.

Flying in a restored Huey

EMU 309 at KHWD

It’s a sunny Sunday morning and a loud womp-womp-womp sound is coming from outside a hanger at Hayward Executive Airport. A sound that is immediately recognizable to anyone who served in the Vietnam War or lived in South East Asia during that time.

EMU Inc., a non-profit in Hayward California painstakingly restored Vietnam-era Huey to flying condition. A couple of weekends ago, I got to meet the founders and volunteers that keep this part of American history alive.

Geoff Carr and Peter Olesko served as crew chiefs and door gunners in the 135th AHC. In Vietnam the 135th was unusual as a joint Royal Australian Navy and US army unit. The unit motto, “Get the Bloody Job Done“ has a very Australian ring to it.

Get the bloody job done

Peter and Geoff where both Crew Chiefs for the “EMU 309” during their tour in Vietnam. The 309 was a special helicopter because it was the longest serving slick* in the unit with 2724 flight hours. The average flight time for the unit was 830 hours before a Huey was sent away for major repairs or damaged beyond repair.

Geoff Carr sitting in the door gunners seat

Geoff Carr in the Crew Chief/Gunners seat

So the EMU crew bought a similar aged Huey (not the original EMU 309) from the Sacramento Police Department and completely refurbished it. Using this helicopter, they recreated the EMU 309 in every detail. Now it’s a flying museum and tribute to their old unit and other Air Assault Units. The actual EMU 309 did make it back to the US but I don’t know that history of it after that.

Detail of EMU 309

EMU is part living history, part healing tool. At the Hayward Air Show I watched a Vietnam Vet get very emotional at being able to go up and sit inside. It would be hard not to relive some memories when sitting in something that took you in and out of the battlefield.

Of course, keeping a helicopter this age in perfect order doesn’t come cheap. The fuel alone for one hour’s flight is around $600. Donations are always needed to keep her going. Check out hueyvets.com for more information on the history of EMU309 and the 135th AHC, events, donations and membership.


Preflighting a Huey

Pilots Peter Olesko and Croy Pelletier preflight EMU 309

Peter and Croy flying

Peter and Croy flying southeast of Hayward

Pushing the Huey back into the hanger after the flight

Pushing back to the hanger after the flight


*A UH-1 helicopter used for transporting troops in tactical air assault operations. The helicopter did not have protruding armaments and was, therefore, “slick”. From: http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/sixties/HTML_docs/Resources/Glossary/Sixties_Term_Gloss_Q_T.html


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