This image of Meteor Crater in Arizona is one of my favorites, mostly because of how it happened. I was flying eastbound over Arizona, returning home from a long project in California. With Thanksgiving approaching I was anxious to get home, and thinking mostly about hoped for tailwinds, favorable routings, and making time. Not until passing south of Flagstaff did I remember that Meteor Crater should be somewhere up ahead. I hadn't planned to see it, and didn't know exactly where it was relative to my course. While I was scanning the aeronautical chart looking for it, the crater came into view - not only in sight, but ideally situated nearby on the left (pilot's side) of the airplane, and down sun in perfect light. Without having to move the airplane even a degree from the on course heading, I was able to click away as the crater slid past. This image is one of the several memorable images from that just-by-chance fly by. Sometimes you're just lucky, and the image finds you.
A couple of months ago I got a call from photographer Nail Mark who skillfully plies his craft for the Centre Daily Times, our local newspaper. Nabil and I had crossed paths briefly last fall when his newspaper published an aerial photo I had been asked to shoot of a local event. As a result of that brief interaction, Nabil had checked out my web portfolio of aerial photographs taken when I was an aerial survey pilot. He filed away an idea for an article. Come spring, that idea surfaced (it must have been a slow news week), and Nabil called me with his idea.
The result of that idea, "High Art" by writer Chris Rosenblum with photography by Nabil is proof that, in the right hands, a mundane topic can be made interesting. Chris took the time to learn much of the arcane jargon of aerial survey and aviation. He conducted multiple interviews including interviewing one of my former colleagues in aerial survey (thanks Ann). His curiosity led him to voluntarily sit through an Aerial Survey 101 PowerPoint presentation, and he rode along on a faux photo mission to see first hand what it was like. Equipped with an impressive grasp of what we do he crafted an article speaking to both the science of aerial survey and and the art aerial photography. I've never really considered my aerial photography to be art but thank you to Chris and Nabil for the compliment of thinking that it is.
For the photography accompanying the article, Nabil mounted a GoPro on a monopod to capture a unique in-flight perspective. Bracing the monopod against the open cockpit window, Nabil used the GoPro to shoot outside-looking-in images as I circled a photo site. I admit that it was daunting to have a highly accomplished working pro photographer on board while going through the motions of an aerial photography shoot. Even more daunting was having Nabil review some of my portfolio shots for inclusion with the article. Thanks to Nabil for being gracious despite his obviously superior skills.
It was fun to see how the article came together, and to see our industry explored and explained with enthusiasm and professionalism by Chris and Nabil. Thanks guys for the experience and the opportunity, and for an interesting take on our little-known industry. You can find the article here:
© Steve Benner Aerial Photography