Self Portrait or How it is done

They are worse than automobile drivers on cell phones, pilots with cameras that is.

Caught this image of my reflection in the GPS while photographing a Trinchera in the southern San Simon Valley at the mouth of Skull Canyon and it captures the ingredients required to make low level aerial photographs. The minimum prerequisites are calm air and good light. Calm conditions make all the difference when flying in confined areas or at low altitudes and good light makes all the difference in creating an interesting photograph. Then the photographic target is flown at series of decreasing altitudes looking for potential problems and obstacles (canyon walls, the ground, small hills, and power lines), all the while rechecking the winds and figuring out the best line past the target. Especially important is a flight path where I will have enough room to turn around once finished running the camera. Once this is worked out, I pick a line along the photographic target and do a low pass towards the target and begin shooting. This is repeated several times until I have something acceptable or I abort and come back another day and try again. I have photographed some sites numerous times because something was not correct, generally the winds. The goal is to bring back interesting views of the landscape and other features and not to fly into the ground.

On this particular flight I had to deal with a canyon entrance and high rock walls with a rocky hill in my flight path past the target. So just after taking the photographs I had to climb and turn to fly over the hilltop shown below.

Self portait

Skull Canyon entrance and rocky hill on the left, shown below in detail.
Early high test pass over rocky hill obstacle.

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