Blog Tag: elevated photography

Aerial Photography for RTV providers

After the webinar from Tuesday October 19th were John Hokkanen from presented the PolePixie I called him the next day to pick-up my Pro Adapter Three Piece Kit.

John’s business is located in beautiful Encinitas just about 15 miles North where my San Diego Virtual Tour is located. Being that he is so close to me, I had the privilege to meet John in person. I learned that he is not only selling his PolePixie creation, but he is also a great photographer and real estate broker. It was a pleasure meeting him.

The PolePixie brings us elevated or aerial photography. Best illustrated with the following pictures (courtesy of The picture below is taken at eye level and the picture below that is taken with an 18 ft pole.

Photo Travel Trips is now offering this great aerial photography service. In our next blog we will show sample photo’s and talk about our experiences with the PolePixie.

Thank You,

Mathieu Jonkers
Photo Travel Trips
San Diego Virtual Tours
Order a virtual tour: 858-348-4746

Improving Exterior Shots

You really can learn something from anyone if you’re just willing to listen and set your ego to the side. Believe it or not one of the best lessons I’ve learned about exterior real estate photography came from a Comfort Suites hotel manager and his iPhone camera!

First a quick story and then a couple of tips.

Soon after starting my Tennessee virtual tour business I invested in a wide angle lens for my DSLR.  I was still getting used to the lens when I was dispatched to shoot a Comfort Suites property as part of the RTV Tour Track and Choice Hotels program.

The manager and I got along pretty well, but he was picky (but not unreasonable) and wanted to see my photos.  His reaction was positive until we got to the exterior shots.  I was so glad to have my new wide angle lens that I had used it outside.  “That shows too much of the concrete” was the manager’s main complaint.  “This new facility has an awesome façade and your photo should emphasize that instead of the parking lot.” With that he whipped out his iPhone and showed me a photo he had taken with it.  As bad as I hated to admit it, his photo was better in composition, if not technical quality.  While I was pondering this, he mentioned that he had taken the photo from across the street.

I decided to take his advice. I knew I’d be too far away from the building to use my wide angle lens.  Instead I replaced it with the 18-55 mm lens in my bag.  Using the longer focal length and moving back away from the building really helped!  This was a four-story hotel so it was tall and also relatively long.  The images were good, but not great.  I’ve since learned how to optimize exteriors (and why) so I’ll get right to the formula that I use to shoot exteriors.

1.    I use an 18-55 zoom lens on my crop-sensor DSLR and use the longest focal length setting that I can. The kit lens that comes with many DSLRs will work just fine.
2.    Move back as far as possible (see #1) .
3.    Get as high as possible for the best perspective and minimize converging verticals (if this term is unfamiliar, Google it).

I’ve learned that wide angle lenses not only take in more side-to-side, but they stretch the perspective of things front to back and exaggerate the “lean back” look when you’re looking up at a building.  Longer focal lengths tend to compress and flatten the image front to back, which is what you want on exteriors.  Do some experimenting by shooting wide with objects in the foreground. (e.g. Get up close to the front of your vehicle) and get a feel for it.

Software programs like Photoshop can go a long way to correcting converging verticals, but the better you can get it in-camera the less time you have to take correcting it later.  With a tall building or where the grade falls away from the front of a residential property, there’s nothing like  raising your point of view.   Here are two solutions to this.

1.    Ask for a ladder or bring your new PolePixie with you.  Even four or five feet higher really helps. Take a look at the examples below.  The difference is an eight-foot step ladder.  This shoot was fairly close to home so I brought my own ladder in my pickup.  I have heard of photographers standing on the roof of their vehicles.  Basically anything to get safely off the ground works. 


2.    Use a pole rig.  These solutions vary widely and until recently you really had to rig up something on your own.  I just got a paint pole adapter from Pole Pixie.  I then went to a local hardware store and got a Mr. Longarm 6′-18′ “Alumaglass” painters pole.  The main section is fiberglass and the two telescoping sections are aluminum. My main criteria for choosing this setup is that it fits in my car.   I’ve got just over $100 in the whole thing and 18′ will take care of most situations.  Plus it’s much safer since my feet stay on the ground.

With a pole you have to decide on a triggering mechanism.  I haven’t been brave enough to send my DSLR up the pole, but instead use a little Canon point and shoot (SD750).  I found a script at  that basically replaces the firmware in a non-destructive way. Once I hit the shutter I have the camera programmed to wait 10 seconds, then shoot five photos at 5 seconds apart.  I’ve had surprisingly good results with this method.  Here are a couple of before and after examples:

So that’s where I am today with my exterior photography.  And it all started with some constructive criticism from a hotel manager and his iPhone!  Hope this gives you some food for thought.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Brett Weaver
Creative Engineer
SpotLight Virtual Tours
Middle Tennessee Virtual Tours
Order a virtual tour:  931-201-9328

The IMAGE Elevated Photography

Hello everyone,

We had an excellent webinar last night as we explored the world of aerial photography. The webinar was very well attended and we would like to thank Mike Willet, Douglas Meyers, and Robert Wicker for doing a wonderful job of showing us how we can make additional money with aerial photography.

They covered several different types of equipment used to capture these aerial photographs that start at very affordable prices for any pocket book. If you were unable to attend the webinar you will want to make sure that you watch the recorded version below as it is packed with a lot of great information to help us grow our businesses. We also had special discounts offered during the webinar that you will want to be aware of.

Birdseye and Eagleye Aerial Photogarphy Poles – Free Shipping

Free shipping is offered on any order place for either pole by Monday June 1, 2009. To order visit and click on the camera poles button to the left.

AP1500 Quadpod Mast system – 20% Discount

We have special group pricing that will save you over 20% off the price of this system. That is over $400 off the price. Please e-mail if you are interested in being part of a discounted order for this system. For details about this system and the discounts offered, you will want to watch the recorded version o f the webinar below.

Thanks for attending and enjoy the show below!

Elevated Photos | Douglas Meyers on Real Estate Show

Watch Douglas Meyers on his local real estate show and below you can order your elevated mast system by contacting Douglas directly from his website. Enjoy the show and good luck with your virtual tours!Douglas Meyers
office (828) 295-8393
cell (828) 719-0609

S.D. Professionals LLC – Up Up and Away

One of the hardest things for me to find these days is a little extra time! Ever since we started with RTV, we have been thinking of more services we could provide to our clients that would still complement each other. So, this spring, we decided we were going to invest in a fleet of helium powered blimps to begin aerial photography and aerial video. Wow, did this idea take off! It seems we may have struck gold once again with this idea. People love the idea of hiring us for more reasons than you would imagine. Obviously the main reason being they realize with S.D. Professionals, LLC, they can always count on professional, quality, affordable services but there’s more!

  1. This new blimp fleet we have allows our professional camera team and professional photographers to get that perfect shot as the clients watch! That’s right, while the blimp is in the air; we have a ground station that allows the client to see exactly what the blimp sees so they can approve the shot while we are in the air.
  2. Then there is my favorite positive point about the blimp fleet, there is ZERO NOISE! That’s right, no more waking up the neighbors with intrusive helicopter winds and noise, our fleet of blimps makes no noise and are a marvel to watch.
  3. Think Green! With this new service, we have made a choice to begin to do our part to help erase our carbon footprint so on top of the fact the we have all helium powered blimps, we have a completely electric trailer for storing them so that the helium is used over and over and over again. Furthermore, we pull the trailer with Chevrolet Avalanche that has the 4-6-8 ethanol conversion kit that allows for extraordinary fuel savings and cuts carbon emissions tremendously!
  4. All photo cameras, video cameras and transmitter equipment is completely electric and rechargeable.

Check out the NBC News Report about our blimps.

Now I realize this blog is more about 360 virtual tours but I thought this would still make the cut since we are a provider of RTV virtual tours and we wanted to announce yet another addition to our services. Those services are:

  1. RTV Virtual Tours
  2. Professional Photography
  3. Video Production & Editing
  4. Website Design & Programming
  5. Graphic Design

Thanks again to RTV and thanks to our clients for making this new endeavor such a successful addition to our services!

Jacob Timmons
Sevierville Tennesse Virtual Tours
Order a virtual tour – 865-774-9023