Join Justin Reznick for an in-depth discussion in this video Meeting the pilot before the flight, part of Aerial Landscape Photography: New Zealand.
- Aerial photography is truly a wonderful experience. (indistinct radio chatter) - It's pretty cool, eh? All these clouds building up, man. (shutter click) - Now in this past year alone, I've had the chance to do it in Iceland, Namibia, Lake Powell and here in New Zealand. I said, "Well, we did Milford by land and by sea "in a previous course. Let's do it by air." And that idea has taken us to this experience meeting this great pilot, Anthony, and being able to fly.
Now in preparing for that, there are some things you need to keep in mind. You want to hopefully talk to some people that have been on flights. Word-of-mouth is an excellent way to find a good pilot. In this situation, I didn't know anybody who had done aerials in New Zealand. So I did some online searches. There's a lot of brochures at the travel centers here in New Zealand, but I just emailed everybody. And what I was trying to do was form a relationship, see if there was a company or a pilot that had a window that was key. I want a window that opens; that they had aircraft with wings overhead so that it wouldn't be in my shot; that they had a pilot who was flexible and willing to meet me where I was, whether I was in Queenstown or Milford Sound, they were gonna cater to my needs.
And through this experience, I found an excellent pilot who was great at communicating. And that's how I met Anthony. So through our exchanges and email, I asked questions like those, what kind of window do you have, what kind of plane is it? Those kind of things are really important because you don't want to set yourself up and get to the airport and go, "Oh wow, there's no windows," or, "The wings, they're gonna be in every shot." So things to consider when you're looking for the right plane. Now once I got to the airport, another meeting took place with Anthony.
I'm Justin. - Justin, Anthony. Nice to meet you. - It's great to meet you. - Welcome to New Zealand. - Thank you so much. Now this was my very first aerial flight in New Zealand and all that I knew was that I was hoping to get in Milford Sound from the air. All right, where are we flying to today? - So today, we're gonna be departing out of Milford Sound here. The plan of attack is we'll head down in the fjord... - And in that meeting, we looked at the itinerary. - So we'd do a circuit of that, and then we'd descend out the length of the fjord to the Tasman ocean and then back into Milford Sound between 45 minutes and an hour.
- Okay, so I'll have numerous opportunities to photograph Milford? - Yes - Basically, we're going out and back and then we'll come out and back again? - Yes, we will. We'll do it twice. - Okay. We talked about how flexible he was. Is he gonna be on a straight flight plan? Can he circle back? Does he have the ability to ask me, "Hey, do you want me to do that again?" Or can I say to him, "Hey, I didn't get that. "Circle back for me." - Great. Well, like I say, we're planning for about a 45-minute flight and we've got an hour window. So if you feel that we haven't got the footage that you need when we come back, we can do some orbits around Milford and make sure we get a few.
- Okay, you have the flexibility to do that? - Yeah, yeah. - Oh fantastic. - I'm not due till 3 o'clock. - Okay, fantastic. - Yeah, that's really cool. - And will I have a mic to be able to talk to you the whole the time? - We'll headsets so we can communicate. - That's awesome. Through that experience, Anthony told me yes, I have that power. It was great knowing that I had a pilot who, A, had the power to do it; but B, was flexible. So he was really, really out to cater to my needs, and that's the kind of experience that we're hoping for. But he talked to me about other things that were gonna be interesting to photograph, taking me to see Sutherland Falls and areas of the Milford track, which is an amazing hike that I did years ago.
So I was gonna be able to see it from above, which was very cool. The only thing I know for sure I want to nail a shot of is Milford, especially in these conditions. But I look forward to seeing everything else as well. - Well, like I say, the plan of attack is we'll head down the fjord of Milford itself and get to the Stirling Waterfalls. It's the highest in the fjord here. And we'll turn and head back down and head out towards Lake Ada in the (mumbles). This was made famous for the Milford walking track. - Okay. - It's a famous four-day hike from Te Anau into Milford Sound. - I've had the chance to do it. - Oh, you have? - Yeah, it's amazing, yeah.
- It's stunning especially in conditions like this. So we'll that down from a bird's eye view and work our way all the way out the outer belly to the highest waterfall in New Zealand. It's called the Sutherland Waterfalls. It's fed from Lake Quill here, and so we'll do a nice big sweeping turn and get some great shots of that today. The Mackinnon Pass that you would have walked across on the Milford track, we'll take that in and we'll head down here past Lake Iceberg. We've got a few beautiful Alpine lakes here. Lake Erskine is the highest in Fiordland National Park, has a beautiful turquoisey color. And after we take you guys past that, over here in the Milford road and then back through past the Homer Tunnel here and run up the Darran mountain ranges.
They're the most spectacular here in Fiordland and lots of glaciers along the way here. So I thought we'd take them in. The most iconic is the Tutoko glacier, and Mt. Tutoko itself is the highest in Fiordland National Park. It's almost 9,000 feet as you can see here. - So that was exciting. But in this conversation of going over our route, I was able to ask him questions about what type of subjects I would see. And what I discovered is that they were gonna be mountains or valleys, waterfalls, but there wasn't going to be river deltas or abstract patterns, and that really helped shaped what kind of lenses I would need and what kind of photography I would be doing.
So it was a really helpful conversation to see the route. And I put a lot of trust in him because it was my first time. Now the next time I fly to New Zealand, I'll have that knowledge, and that'll help form what kind of route I want to go on next.