...to avoid confusion, image above is Miami Keys on the way to GrandCayman.
On the trip to Grand Cayman, I brought the usual kit: Sony A7R, Sony FE 55mm f/1.8, Summarit-M 35mm, and Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5. One of the ideas I had got into my head before we left London is that I must try getting some arial photos while we are on the island, you know crystal blue water and green coastline kind.
It's important to point out that I have never attempted arial photography before. I don't know how it's done and had no idea what challenges there might be...
Originally the plan was to get a helicopter ride. However friendly staff at the Ritz told me that the only commercial helicopter on the island is currently out of commission, but I can try my luck with the local flight club. After chatting to someone at the club I found out that there is one flight instructor who doesn't mind taking tourist for a flight over the island, got his number, and booked a flight for the next morning.
The next morning, really pumped up for the flight, I headed out to the field. I met the pilot at the private terminal, we quickly had a coffee, signed some papers and walked out on to the airfield towards his Cessna 172.
I'm sure many of you, when you learned how to ride a bicycle, had one with training wheels. That's what Cessna 172 is, training wheels - because there is no more student friendly airplane than Cessna out there.
So after a quick safety check and refuel we climbed into the cockpit, headed out onto the landing strip, and within 2 min were up in the air. As we climbed higher (which takes some time in the little Cessna..) the pilot talked to me about himself, the island, local ecological problems, housing market, hurricanes and other mundane stuff. All this while I was looking out of the window and trying to figure out what would be the best tactic to shoot, while avoiding the wind, the overhead wings and the landing gear...
The only way to shoot was through an open window, so I attached the camera to the tripod and set it up on a 2sec timer. The plan was to press shutter release and then stabilise the tripod to get a sharper image. So pinching the tripod legs in my armpit I started shooting.
Our initial heading was east, around the island's coastline. Headed into the morning sun it was pretty much impossible to take a good shot as the sun reflection on the ocean's surface was producing some nasty highlights. Shooting back was tricky because of the size of the window and the angle of the wing, so I patiently waited until we clear the eastern tip of the island and turn the other way.
Over the next 30min I took about 150 shots, some of which turned out pretty decent - for a first attempt at least.
Unfortunately our 60min tour ended earlier than expected - we were told to clear the sky for some commercial traffic. But I loved the experience and the challenges it presented. Definitely going back up when I get another chance. Hopefully better prepared.