New Orleans Aerial Photography BIG EASY IMAGES FROM THE AIR

We’ve all browsed through Google Earth from time to time and have become familiar with the wonder and utility of aerial images, including those of downtown New Orleans and the Crescent City bridges. However, these aerials don’t provide the same artistic quality than an oblique image can provide. In 2011, I had the opportunity to take a helicopter ride through New Orleans, and it provided me with a once in a lifetime opportunity to view some of NOLA’s landmarks from a breathtaking angle.

For approximately $500, three of us chartered a helicopter out of the Lakefront Airport, and they were kind enough to provide a pilot or else we would have been going nowhere! The trip was ostensibly to view the flooding of the Mississippi River during the Spring high water, which precipitated the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway. Having completed our “work”, we set about heading into downtown New Orleans, at an altitude of probably about 1,000 feet. However, my fear of heights was completely over-shadowed by my excitement at getting to shoot some very famous landmarks from an unusual vantage point.

First image is probably one one of my more popular shots; a skyline shot with the Mercedes Benz Superdome as one of the more prominent features. The building to the right is an odd one. It looks like it has a top hat and has lain empty for some time. I believe there are plans to demolish it, but as of writing, it was still there.


The most exciting moment, however, was when we crept up on the Crescent City Connection. This twin truss bridge, spanning the Mississippi River, looks great from a bunch of angles but I had only once before seen it from this angle and it was pretty special. What makes this view so great is that you can clearly see the approach making a long sweeping arc into the bridges. Photographers call these “lead lines”; features within an image that draw the eyes naturally to the focal point. The approach ramps worked perfectly in that role here.


A couple of years earlier we had another charter, this time in a light aircraft and we had the chance to shoot from some similarly brilliant vantage points. Two images stand out in my collection, for different reasons. The first is this panoramic shot as we approached from the south at an altitude of approx. 3,000 feet. I love this image personally because it captures the entire Uptown and Downtown areas, including as far a field as Metairie. I can look at this image an imagine that all of my memories and experiences of New Orleans are captured in one shot.

Last image is one that exemplifies the geometric beauty of the Interstate system in the city, while providing a nice arc for the eye to follow. Taken from about 4,000 feet, this image shows the highway system arcing around the Superdome, French Quarter, and Central Business District and out across the river to Algiers.

Created By
Ray Devlin



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