Tag : aerial

20 Oct 2018

Taking to the air over Far Hills

Each year there is a massive event in Central New Jersey called the Far Hills Race Meeting. It is officially steeplechase horse races on a beautiful property in the small rural and extremely upscale town of Far Hills. About 30,000 attend the event and some of them know there are horse races going on. The rest are there for other reasons, including being seen, seeing others, showing off their expensive cars, putting on the most lavish tail gate party possible and for many getting drunk beyond belief. If you can stay away from the drunks it is quite the event. I’ve been photographing it for nearly 30 years and for the last 20 from the air.

The race association has me shoot from a helicopter to document the event from that vantage both for aesthetic shots but also to help them plan traffic control. I fly twice during the day and it makes it easy for them to see where jams occur as people make their way to the farm.

The best way to shoot from a helicopter is to take the door off and hang out the side. Sometimes the pilot has a climbing harness that I use but this year I just made sure the seat belt was secure. You can’t lean out too far or the wind from the rotors blows so hard you can’t hold the camera steady. So I lean out far enough to not get the chopper in the photo when I’m using a wide angle lens but not so far as to catch rotor wash. It was a bit chilly today but I was ready with gloves and a good warm jacket. As always, the world looks great from above.

15 Aug 2017

Once again my face is plastered against the airplane window

I know I’m supposed to be more sophisticated as a professional photographer than to sit with my face plastered against the airplane window but it happens every time I fly, especially when crossing mountains. So there I was again this morning, my head bouncing between two windows trying to see all I could as we passed over the Rockies while headed to Oregon for my photo workshop.

This is my second trip to Oregon this year and I’m probably on the same route I’ve been on several times before, seeing the same mountains and valleys and enjoying it as much as ever.

I cram myself into a window seat whenever I fly not because I like to disrupt other passengers when I need to get up and stretch – it’s the view. All the other windows on the plane are closed but there I am leaving greasy nose marks on the window and a bit of drool down below.

I usually have the flight map showing on the seatback screen but United wanted me to pay for even that, so I couldn’t tell exactly where I was. It added to the fun, trying to guess what mountain we were flying over. Is that Idaho, Wyoming?

I’m snapping away with my iPhone loving the amazing show nature has provided down below, snow on the mountains, volcanic peaks, patches of farmland in the valleys and patterns in the desert landscape. All the while the gents sitting next to me are playing games on their phones, yawning a lot and bitching because there isn’t free inflight entertainment to keep their minds numb.

Dude, get a window seat next time, the best entertainment you can imagine is down below us.

19 Oct 2013

Buzzing around in a helicopter


fhrm13Today was the annual Far Hills Race Meeting in NJ where 30,000 people try to outdo themselves and put on extremely lavish tailgate parties on a hillside while steeplechase horse races are happening. I’ve photographed the event from the air for over 15 years, buzzing the horses and seeing how many people wave at me. Usually we take the door off the helicopter and I put on a climbing harness and hang out the side. Last year we used a chopper that had a rear door that slide open so I could hang out. I meet the helicopter at an airport about three miles from the event and when it landed today I wasn’t real happy. It wasn’t the same machine we used last year and all the doors were on. The pilot said they didn’t want to remove the door, he didn’t say why, so I was stuck shooting through a small sliding window. That took all the fun out of it, plus the ability to move around much. The pilot pointed out right away that it was a twin engine jet helicopter, which is good since there is no logical reason those things should fly. Even though I didn’t get to wear the harness, it was still fun zipping around the countryside.

On the way back to the airport, I saw this abandoned grain silo and small building with a road curving around. It looks pretty cool, I’ll have to try and find it from the ground.

23 Oct 2010

Helicoptering over the Far Hills Race Meeting

Tailgaters pack the hillside at the Far Hills Race Meeting.

Today was my annual helicopter flight over the Far Hills Race Meeting in Far Hills, NJ. The race meeting is steeplechase horse races on a large farm where 30,000 people pack onto the hillside and infield area and kinda watch the horses run. The main purpose of the event is to raise money for a local hospital and for people to consume too much alcohol and show off their riches. The tailgating event draws the high-end crowd, people bring their Rolls-Royces and have large catered parties, complete with ice sculptures, the finest wine and food.

I’ve been photographing the party from the air for at least the last 15 years for the organization that puts on the event. I started in a little Robinson helicopter that I barely fit in, then for many years I chartered a Bell Jet Ranger out of Princeton. It was my favorite, they’d take the door off and I would wear a climbing harness and hang out the side. It was fun and expensive. Last year they found a local guy with a helicopter who donated the ride, which saved lots of money. I rode in that one again this year, it is a six-seat Bell 470. The original owner had the interior done in leather to match his Porsche. It is really nice but I can’t ask them to take the door off and risk something flying in and ripping up the leather. So I just slide open a little window and shoot through there.

A barn in a Bedminster, NJ, field.