I conquered my fear of heights! / by Kenton Waltz


     Sometimes changing perspective is all you need to get a great shot. Most of my photographs are created at a height of 6 feet. To spice things up a bit, sometimes I shoot from the hip to give a more “street” look. Other times, I might climb onto a ladder to get a higher angle on my subject. And sometimes I climb into a helicopter to get a really different perspective. 

     Over the weekend I decided to face my fear of heights and take a helicopter tour of Portland. I used Oregon Helicopters out of their Old Town location. They were great! I had the idea, checked their schedule, called, and went up to their office/helipad. Literally within 15 minutes of deciding to fly, I was in the air. They even had an option for photographers where they take the door off so I can shoot without reflections. I highly recommend them. 

     For gear, I had the best DSLR I could bring  matched with the best lenses. I had a Nikon D850 for the camera body and three Nikkor lenses (70–200, 24–70, and 14–24).However, I was completely nervous and couldn’t bring myself to swap lenses. My fear of heights manifested into a fear of dropping my lenses. Luckily I lifted off with the Nikkor 14mm–24mm f/2.8 mounted to the body. This lens allowed me to capture the most amount of skyline in each shot. It was also great at interior cabin shots of the helicopter. 

     The flight was a bit nerve-racking because I have a huge fear of heights. The flight was much higher than I thought it would be and having the door off really made for a face-to-face view of my fear. Luckily I love photography and getting great shots helped to calm my nerves.  

     Overall, the change in perspective made for interesting shots of Portland. I’ve lived in this city for quite some time, but I’ve never seen it like this before. I highly recommend taking a helicopter tour of Portland. 

     Special thanks to my friend, Serwan, for being brave and spontaneous. He was with me when I had the idea and was crazy enough to say yes to an impromptu helicopter flight.