Photographer Bernard Chen felt that there was extra to aerial pictures than drones and realized tips on how to paraglide in order that he might fly throughout West Virginia and seize the realm in a brand new method.
Primarily based in Northern Virginia, Chen grew up on a farm and developed a robust reference to all issues nature. An adventurer and explorer at coronary heart, Chen views his work as born out of the concord between his fascination with the visible picture and his surprise on the pure world.
“My pictures permits me to discover and encounter the world round me,” he tells PetaPixel. “I really feel most linked with the pure world in these moments after I’m ready for it to disclose one thing to me — ready for a cloud to maneuver, the sunshine to alter, a breeze to elevate or drop. I consider in discovery, surprise, and the infinite energy of nature to shock us.”
Chen’s story is just like others who felt the identical name to the sky, like photographer George Steinmetz who flew a motorized paraglider throughout Africa, or Alexandre Buisse who did the identical in France and Italy.
It was this deep fascination with breathtaking landscapes that led Chen to purchase his first drone in 2013 earlier than they exploded in recognition. Though this opened up an entire new world for his pictures, it didn’t make as huge of a flip in comparison with when he started spending time with adventurous individuals — rock climbers, skydivers, base jumpers, and different adrenaline seekers.
“I’d inform you if you wish to enhance your pictures, befriend these sorts of lively individuals, and they’re going to present you a world you by no means thought was potential,” says Chen. “Most panorama photographers want to shoot from the highest of the mountain or deep in a cave, and that group of lively adventurers is aware of tips on how to get you into that place for that shot.”
The introduction to this lively journey world led Chen to backpack up Seneca Rocks, descend down in a collapse Alabama, leap out of a airplane, and climb big 300-feet redwood bushes in California. All of which, unbeknownst to him on the time, ready Chen for the way forward for flying throughout a spot near his coronary heart — Dolly Sods, Wilderness Space within the Allegheny Mountains of jap West Virginia.
“I assumed skydiving can be my ticket to filming from the air. However that’s a one-way ticket all the way down to the bottom, which doesn’t match what I needed to do,” he says. “I began taking note of this sport, which seemed very thrilling, and it is a sport I might see myself flying with a digital camera.”
The method of primarily turning into a human drone took ten months of flying coaching at Virtually Heaven Energy Paragliding, West Virginia to achieve over 130 hours of flight time. This dedication wasn’t simple — Chen’s first seven makes an attempt of free flight expertise weren’t profitable.
After spending a while considering what’s mentally blocking Chen to succeed, he got here again prepared and launched efficiently.
“I didn’t need to cease; flying was exhilarating!” says Chen. “I went from a shaking physique to a improbable state of bliss in a matter of seconds. It was an unbelievable feeling of accomplishment.”
As soon as he develop into extra comfy in his coaching, he began to experiment with a GoPro. As soon as he mastered that in flight, he added extra cameras to his motor, ultimately strapping his Sony A7R IV and Sony 24-105mm lens to his chest.
“Flying with cameras was lastly coming collectively, however studying to take photos whereas flying was not a straightforward activity. In contrast to drones, I’m at all times transferring; any changes to settings should be accomplished with one hand. Flying low will get you the most effective compositions and brings probably the most hazard. As soon as I put all this collectively, I can begin planning flights for some unbelievable places, and Dolly Sods was on the prime of my record of dream flights.”
Though some may ask why Chen goes via all of this effort for aerial pictures and isn’t merely utilizing a drone, his reply lies in what’s accessible to photographers. In the US, drones are restricted to a most altitude of 400 toes, whereas flying can get Chen as excessive as 18,000 toes.
The power to remain up within the air for 2 to 3 hours additionally opens up many avenues of getting fascinating and picturesque pictures, whereas taking advantage of paramotor which doesn’t require an airstrip to launch.
After engaging in his dream of flying over Dolly Sods, Chen is wanting ahead to an Iceland flight in 2022 in addition to expressed a want to go to places throughout Southwest and Alaska.
“I can see myself having three cine cameras mounted, recording completely different angles whereas in flight. It will likely be an experiment to see what works, however I like this problem; it’s what retains me impressed to discover our stunning planet.”
Picture credit: All pictures offered courtesy of Bernard Chen and used with permission.