September 14th, 2013

Scene From Above

Posted in aerial photography, architectural photography by Greg Benson
Philadelphia from 750 feet.

Philadelphia from 750 feet.

The world looks different from 750 feet. It is one thing to peer down past the wing of an airplane, viewing an entire city in miniature. It is quite another to hover just above the tallest skyscrapers in a two-man helicopter, close enough to see the texture of a stone, far enough to take in whole structures and spaces as never before.

This gallery on my website showcases some of my aerial photography.

Greg flying over the city.

Greg flying over the city.

My commercial real estate clients love to have aerial photos of their buildings. For my part, I love flying in a helicopter with the door removed to get the clearest view and the most flexibility in shooting angle. To see and photograph buildings from the air is a visual treat. To me, flying in a helicopter is better than any amusement park ride.

Paine Park, a skateboard park near the Philadelphia Museum of Art, opened May 2013.

Paine Park, a skateboard park near the Philadelphia Museum of Art, opened May 2013.

The high cost of renting a helicopter puts a premium on efficiency. With the engine often burning a gallon of gas every few minutes, it is even more important than usual to know where the sun will be, and which spots will afford you the best views of a building from on high.

Planning for an aerial shoot involves studying the site on Google satellite view, finding a good weather day, and coordinating closely with the pilot. Pre-planning and good communication with your pilot make for successful photos and a safe flight.

Penn Park

Penn Park

For more helicopter shots, see my previous blog post on using a helicopter to document an urban university’s new park and athletic fields.

3 Executive Campus, Cherry Hill, NJ

3 Executive Campus, Cherry Hill, NJ

I look forward to my next trip to the clouds. From up in the air, you begin to understand that architects and city planners are no different than we were as children, playing with Lincoln Logs, planning homes and offices for the people below.

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November 16th, 2011

Green in the City

Posted in aerial photography, architectural photography by Fernando Gaglianese
"Field of Dreams" from Penn Gazette, Nov-Dec 2011

"Field of Dreams" from Penn Gazette, Nov-Dec 2011

Recently the Penn Gazette ran a long feature on Penn Park, the University of Pennsylvania’s recently completed development of twenty-four acres for use as a public park and athletic fields.

Greg was given the assignment to photograph for the article. The assignment gave him an opportunity to capture a place and the people using it.

To illustrate the many uses of Penn Park and show it from many angles, Greg visited the park on four separate days. He also photographed it from a helicopter to show how the park sits in relationship to Penn’s campus and Center City Philadelphia.

Joggers using Penn Park.

Joggers using Penn Park.

Penn Park is a welcome addition of green space to this section of Philadelphia.

Soccer practice.

Soccer practice.

Rainwater that falls on the artificial turf of the athletic fields flows into underground cisterns that will store 2 million gallons of storm water annually. This water will help irrigate trees and grass on the site.

Penn Park offers many ways of enjoying the trees and open air.

Penn Park offers many ways of enjoying the trees and open air.

Penn Park supports a series of athletic activities.

Penn Park supports a series of athletic activities.

Spread from Pennsylvania Gazette's article on Penn Park.

Spread from Pennsylvania Gazette's article on Penn Park.

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November 16th, 2011

Up in the Air

Posted in aerial photography, architectural photography by Fernando Gaglianese
Penn Park sits between the Penn Campus and Center City Philadelphia.

Penn Park sits between the Penn Campus and Center City Philadelphia.

For Penn Gazette’s coverage of Penn Park, photographs from the ground are not able to tell the entire story. Greg hired a helicopter to gain a higher angle in order to show the size of the site and how it sits in relation to the Penn campus and Center City Philadelphia.

Penn Gazette Nov-Dec 2011 cover

Penn Gazette Nov-Dec 2011 cover

Getting good images from the air is an exercise in team work between the photographer and the pilot. To photograph from a helicopter it’s best to fly with the door off. The cabin is very noisy and once in the air the only way to verbally communicate with the pilot is through a headset. The pilot also needs to stay attentive to any instructions he may receive from air traffic control, so chatty photographers need to keep their talking to a minimum for the sake of safety.

Greg getting ready to feel the wind in his hair.

Greg getting ready to feel the wind in his hair.

Prior to hiring a helicopter, Greg shot the park from nearby high buildings, like Franklin Field. The view from there has power lines and the railroad line is prominent. The limitation of shooting this project from the ground led to using a helicopter.

View from the top of Franklin Field, Penn's football stadium.

View from the top of Franklin Field, Penn's football stadium.

For all the complications, costs, and considerations, aerial photographs show angles that photography from the ground cannot. Satellite images, while showing a view from above, do not have the same spatial quality.

Penn Park in relation to the rest of Center City Philadelphia.

Penn Park in relation to the rest of Center City Philadelphia.

For more on this assignment, see our post about photographing Penn Park from the ground.

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