Photographing Penn State from the Air—Again
Ever since I got that ride in that state police helicopter last fall, I’ve been thinking about aerial photography.
For one thing, shooting photos from a helicopter is such a blast, I wanted to find a way to do it again. But more importantly, it was clear that Penn Staters love seeing aerial photos of the University—and that there aren’t that many current aerial shots out there. The slide show of photos that I took on that dreary, overcast Saturday afternoon and put up on Flickr has gotten an amazing 106,000 views! I kept thinking, Imagine what we could do on a sunny day.
So I talked to some helicopter companies and eventually hired Cherokee Helicopter Service of Ford City, Pa., to take me back up. And this time I brought a second photographer—Andy Colwell, an exceptionally talented Penn State student who shoots for Penn State Public Information.
We went up yesterday—a gorgeous day—and spent a little over an hour making passes back and forth over campus, hovering in lots of different spots and heading out over Mount Nittany at one point as well.
The Cherokee Helicopter guys had given us our choice of seating plans: anywhere from sitting in a seat shooting out the open window (the most timid option) to removing the seats and sitting on the floor with the door wide open and our feet on the flight step (the most “aggressive” option, as they put it). Andy and I both chose the aggressive plan, so he had his legs dangling out the left side of the helicopter and I was doing the same on the right.
I shot more than 800 photos and I’m pretty sure Andy shot more—he’s by far the better photographer, and he brought three camera bodies and assorted lenses with him. I still haven’t gone through all of my photos from the adventure, but I also can’t wait to see what he got.
The point of this whole project is to run a photo essay in our July-August issue—readers are always telling us how much they like seeing photos of Penn State, especially the newer buildings, and we figured this would be the perfect way to do it.
We also hope to do a subsequent photo essay of aerial views of some of the other Penn State campuses. If all goes well, I (and/or assorted other photographers) will be doing some more helicopter rides in various parts of the state in the next few weeks and we’ll run that photo essay in September-October. If we run into snags—such as bad weather or outrageous cost estimates or something—we might put it off until next year instead.
And, once the magazine is out, we’ll definitely put an even bigger collection of these images on the Web for your viewing pleasure. The two shots here are just to tease you.
Tina Hay, editor
Entry filed under: Photography, The Penn Stater magazine, University Park campus. Tags: aerial photography, Andy Colwell, Blue Golf Course, Cherokee Helicopter Service, helicopter photography, Mount Nittany, Rec Hall, West Halls.