A Las Vegas helicopter tour is a tremendous opportunity for amateur and professional shutterbugs alike. The chance to photograph the most photogenic city in the world from an aerial perspective is a dream. It’s more affordable to make that dream come true than you think. This unparalleled tour of the Las Vegas Strip affords guests the chance to take stunning photographs of this one-of-a-kind stretch of road with fantastic views of iconic sights such as the fountains of Bellagio, Paris Las Vegas’ Eiffel Tower and golden Mandalay Bay. Booking your flight is easy. It’s the nighttime photography that’s the difficult part. Read on for some simple advice on how to take the perfect photos of the Strip at night.
Shoot in Manual Mode
By switching your DSLR camera to Manual, you’ll be able to set the shutter speed, aperture and ISO, allowing you to tinker with these until you get the perfect marriage of all three. This setting also prevents the camera from firing the pop-up flash, which in this scenario, leaves you with photos of a bright window. It is important to familiarize yourself with your camera’s controls, so you can quickly adjust the various settings mid-flight.
Find the Right Shutter Speed
Because of the lack of a major light source, the camera’s shutter needs to stay open longer so light can reach the sensor. However, when the shutter stays open longer, objects in motion blur. Because you’ll be in a helicopter, the landscape you’re photographing will be moving. Ideally, you would want your shutter to remain open for at least 30 seconds, but the photos might turn out too blurry aboard a helicopter. Try various shutter speeds as close to the 30-second mark as possible. A camera stabilizer can also help to prevent blurring.
Adjust the Aperture
When it comes to night photography, the larger the depth of field, the better off the shots will be. This is especially true when photographing lit buildings. Remember when altering the aperture, you’ll need to adjust the shutter speed accordingly. While an aperture setting of f/11 with a shutter speed of 30 seconds would be ideal, in a moving helicopter, the images will turn out blurry. You might try an aperture setting at f/8 with a shutter speed of 15 seconds. This could work well for photographing the length of the Strip. Again, you’ll want to quickly play around with the settings to find that perfect marriage.
Watch Your ISO
If the adjustments you’ve made to the aperture and shutter speed still aren’t producing the desired shots, you can try upping your ISO. Increasing the ISO increases the sensitivity of the image sensor, resulting in better exposures in low-light conditions. The tradeoff here is that a higher ISO adds noise to your image, particularly in the darkest portions of the image. Some noise can be edited out after the fact. Use the lowest ISO you can without creating too much noise.
Shoot What Catches Your Eye
You’ve got an eye for interesting, so let your curiosity lead your lens. Look for unique shapes and colors. Try to find interesting lines occurring in the cityscape, and photograph those. Water features, of which there are a few on the Strip, are also deserving of your lens’ attention. The water collects and softens the colorful lights. Don’t be afraid to try out different focal lengths. What looks bland at 18 mm may look striking at 55 mm.
By using these tips, you’ll be sure to take professional photographs of the Strip aboard your helicopter tour of Las Vegas. Your Instagram followers will be extremely impressed. Don’t forget to share your great tour photos with us on Facebook!