Riley J.B. - Photographer


Calgary photographer, Riley JB, writes essays, photo stories, reviews & tutorials in his photographic Journal.

Above New York, New York

New York is my favourite city. I have discussed with many that it is like being in a huge movie set. I can really point my lens in any direction and find some kind of interestingness to capture. 

Back in June of this year I booked my flight & hotel for my NYC trip. Johnny Patience's NYCWLK is what was bringing me to New York, but I wanted to make the absolute most I could of my short time there. I enjoy walking around making snaps as I did in 2013. This time I wanted a different angle. Above.

I searched the interwebs for helicopter tours. There are several of them out there at varying prices. It is much more of an investment than your MetroCard.. but definitely worth it. I booked mine with FlyNYON as they were not just a helicopter touring company but they are geared towards photography. On a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon the windows did prove to be a pain for photography. FlyNYON fixes that by removing the doors. thus removing reflections & the impediment of the window.
(This is not a paid endorsement for FlyNYON. I paid for my own flight and am recommending them because I had a great experience.)

I was checking the weather app on my phone every few hours starting the week leading up to my flight. It was constantly changing.. from sunny to partly cloudy to overcast to thunder showers to light rain. The day before the forecast was calling for heavy rain all day. I went to bed convinced I would wake up at 6am with a cancellation email.

To my surprise and extreme joy it was a beautiful morning. The sun was out and there was light low clouds. I wanted to leave Manhattan allowing plenty of time.. too much time. I overestimated the amount of Sunday morning traffic heading into New Jersey. I was 40 minutes early to the hanger. Which ended up giving me plenty of time to ensure my settings were the way I wanted on my camera.

I was joined by 3 others wanting an aerial view of Gotham. A couple that were locals and a fellow, Thor, from Iceland.  The pilot placed me in the middle in the rear of the 'copter. Which sounds like a pretty bad seat for a doorless helicopter photo flight. Its actually the best. My harness had a longer lead and once we took off I scooched out from my seat and perch myself on the floor with my legs hanging down onto the skid of the aircraft.

Did I mention I don't do well with heights on a 12 foot ladder? While I do have an aversion to heights the view up in the whirlybird was so amazing that being high above skyscrapers didn't seem to bother me.


Just a quick mention of gear. I typically only use prime lenses however, switching lenses is not possible because everything must be secured to your person. Fujifilm Canada loaned me their 16mm-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens. It is a bit of a beast on the X-T1 but worked well in this application. As I rarely shot wide open I should have opted for the 18mm-55mm kit lens. Much more compact with stellar quality.

I also attached a borrowed GoPro Hero 4 to the hot-shoe of my camera body to capture the experience.


With the GoPro footage I made a short movie of my flight. The best version only works on desktop (or in the Google Chrome app on your mobile) due to a 3rd party copyright limitation with the music. But it's worth it.
If you're on a mobile device see this version with less awesome music:


Here are some of the resulting photos from the flight. Some can be licenced for commercial use from Stocksy.

Thanks for checking out my work. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know your comments below and share with someone you think would also enjoy it.