A pneumatic telescopic mast, extending to a maximum of about 75 feet, can be fitted to a 4 x 4 vehicle. Alternatively, a mast can be mounted on a portable base. The masts are fitted with a radio-controlled, battery-powered pan and tilt head upon which a camera can be mounted, and a live video feed is available to the operator.
The image in the camera's viewfinder is fed to a laptop computer and used in conjunction with the remote control mechanism to compose the required images. When the shutter is releases, the captured image is immediately displayed on the screen of the laptop computer.
This equipment is suitable for well-framed shots in urban areas where other forms of areial photography are not practicable. Masts are typically used for photographing property. The image above was photographed from a narrow rural lane with the mast extended to only about fifteen feet. This was sufficient to overlook small obstructions such as hedgerows and small trees, and obtain good perspective.
A wide range of masts is available, and selecting the most appropriate type can be difficult. Begin by addressing the following issues:
- What are the relevant objectives?
- Should the mast be free-standing, or mounted on a vehicle or trailer?
- Should the mast be extended manually (hand pumped) or using an electric compressor?
- Estimate the weight and size of the load to be carried by the mast ie the pan and tilt head and camera equipment.
- What maximum extended height is required?
- If a vehicle is to be used, what type will it be? What are its key dimensions (ie floor to roof height) and to what dimensions must the mast contract?