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.

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