Have a phobia of heights? Don’t like being in small confined places?
Not Marc Hill. He’s one of the tutors teaching photography to students at The Learning Connexion. In his spare time he’s been up high in the air, as well as on the ground, taking photographs and filming helicopters in action.
Marc’s first opportunity to work with local helicopter company Helipro came about due to chance and a local bushfire in Happy Valley, Wellington. He saw what was happening and took a video of the helicopter in operation from the nearby foreshore. On a whim, he sent his captured footage into the helicopter companies Wellington office.
It was months later, when he was contacted by Helipro’s CEO, and asked if he would like to document and film their operations. Now two and a half years later, Marc has racked up over 50 separate jobs, with his website showcasing an impressive collection of both video and photographic imagery
Buildings, cityscapes, coastlines, lodges and farmland pasture feature within his portfolio.
Aerial photograph: Braided River, New Zealand South Island
Marc is fortunate to have flown in helicopters all over the country. He has filmed video and photographed aerials in Auckland, Palmerston North, Invercargill, Kaikoura, Christchurch and Wellington. Later this year, due to the contacts he’s made within the aviation industry, he is off to film in Canada.
"Being pushed well beyond ones comfort zone”, Marc says, is what he likes most about filming and photographing helicopters.
Flying in a lightweight aircraft whilst being thrown about by elemental forces, he often found himself dangling out of a helicopter door secured only by a harness. Trust was essential. He simply had to trust the pilot, the harness and hang on to his equipment.
Timing, focus and camera stabilization became everything on the job. As events happened quickly, sometimes only one or two of Marcs intended shots would actually work.
“You never knew what was going to happen but you had to get a story out of it. You had to get something.” It’s not cheap for the company to get that helicopter up into the air.
One of the Helipro helicopters Marc flew in was actually known as the ‘Vomit Comet’. This was because it shook so much whilst in the air, making it difficult to focus.
The first lesson he quickly learned was not to rely on autofocus. Using auto focus wasn’t an option due to the quickly moving nature of a helicopter and long focal point distances.
Marc said he also had to learn again how to hold a camera. Soft steady hands were key to getting a great shot. When shooting he would have to quickly switch from a long zoom lens to a wide-angle one. As you really don’t want to be changing lenses whilst up in the air, Marc chose to use a 24mm-70mm wide angle lens and a 70mm-200mm zoom lens on two separate cameras for speed.
“I learnt how to work on the edge of the performance of my technology”.
Marc’s latest work: Coming Down Titahi Bay Tower 1936 - 2016
To see more of Marc Hills work in filming and photographing helicopters, visit www.marchill.org
Take a photography class by Marc Hill and learn how to take your creativity to a higher level. Call The Learning Connexion School of Art & Creativity on 0800 278 769, or request a prospectus to find out more.