Chase Jarvis RAW: Aerial Photography Over New Zealand [video]

I originally started traveling to New Zealand for commercial photo and video work. Visually, there are few place on earth that exude the beauty of that place AND it has the benefit of being opposite seasonally (opposite hemisphere) from most of the brands/agencies etc that I work for. Great 6 month lead time for campaign creation, media buying, etc. It’s geographically very dense with variety as well. It’s a home run for productions. As such I’ve been heading down there to shoot campaigns for many years.

It was in these travels for commercial work that I fell in love with the New Zealand landscape and started a personal project aiming to capture that beauty from the air. Nothing too serious…more casual initially. But in the past 3 years it has grown more serious with each return. I’ve learned that mountains and landscapes can often photograph a lot like people. They have moods, personalities, essences. Capturing those has become the goal of my Aerial New Zealand project.

At the beginning of this Chase Jarvis RAW vid, you’ll see the door come off of the helicopter, you’ll see my shooting rig, and some safety measures…but the real fun begins after that where we’re buzzing above the Southern Alps of New Zealand, up canyons, and across deltas making pictures–both still and moving. Flying around in a helicopter above what I’d argue is one-of-if-not-THE most beautiful landscape in the world is humbling and stunning and so many things at the same time–not to mention just effing cool. I hope you enjoy the vid. There’s a handful of still images from the end of the video after the jump…

I’ve had the good fortune of shooting out of helicopters for more than a decade…and can say that I never get over how fun it is. Having probably taken 100 or more rides, it never gets old. I’m grateful to have worked with some of the best pilots in the world as well. In this video, Alfie (Queenstown Heliworks) works his magic. Thank you Alfie.

Needless to say, if you ever get a chance to fly, you must absolutely grab that chance.

Check out the images below, but also feel free to check out a bigger gallery selection of images from this project here.

Happy to answer any aerial photography questions you might have in the comments. Thanks for spending some time with the video.

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Fervil says:

What a heart-melting images you got there Chase! Wow! the aerial photos really stunned me! I saw the vids you uploaded and I can see that you’re really a daredevil with this one, it’s a breath-taking actions you’ve done there mate! Keep up the good work and keep posted! God bless you.

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Great, all the stuff of this video is really amazing. How smartly you done it, love to see the New Zealand in this form.

A. Lindstrom says:

Chase! I did it man, thanks for the inspiration! My flight wasn’t in a helicopter, but we hoped in a Cessna and had an epic view of the Milford Sound! I posted a few photos on my website, doesn’t compare to your epic shots, but it’s a start in my book … have a look if you have the time, thanks.
Cheers! ~Adam

A. Lindstrom says:

YEEEWWW!!! Epic photos for an epic place (and I don’t really use the word epic too often, hahaa) Seriously. Haven’t really seen a series of photos that evoke that level of emotion and inspiration to explore our natural world since looking at Ansel Adams work. I’ll be traveling through NZ this August and now I’m definitely adding a helicopter tour to our list! As always, thanks for the inspiration on all levels. Cheers!

Wow, those are some stunning landscapes and what an amazing job, I don’t think we have too many people back here in the UK doing this sort of thing, I’ve certainly never found anything about it. Impressed!!!

Tulio says:

Chase, please, please, please.
Where did you get that bungee support?
I’ve been looking for it everywhere.
Would it work for video too?

Chase says:

it was custom made by a gent in queenstown. wish I knew more!

Chase says:

oh – and YES it works well for video! it was with that rig that we shot some video at the end (the black and white) of the youtube clip above

Some years ago on a visit to NZ I rented a Cessna 172 in Christ Church and spent 4 days exploring and photographing NZ from the air. Lots of emergency landing fields across the pasture lands. It seems a lot of the ranchers have airplanes and grass runways. It was a wonderful trip and some of my all time favorite images were taken there.

magnificent post, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector don’t notice this. You should continue your writing. I am sure, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

fotoeins says:

Chase, I arrived here from your g+ post. Thanks for your article – I’d love to try this some day!

Luke says:

An awesome opportunity resulting in some amazing photos. I can certainly see why New Zealand inspires you. I would love a similar opportunity here in Colorado.

Really Amazing work. I’d love to get out in the plane and capture aerials of really remote natural areas. I travelled to New Zealand when I was a teenager and these photos and videos reminded me how varied the geography is! Really impressive work.
Most of my aerial photography work is of commercial properties and construction sites in and around Philadelphia in the US. You can view it online here
Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to get out and shoot some more natural settings!

Bradles says:

This is a bit of an aside but, as a kiwi who loves your work, I am so stoked that you love New Zealand. That’s awesome.

Is NZ a common favourite among super pros such as yourself or are you just super clever?

Sorry for the fanboy astonishment but this is mind-boggling awesome. How often do you come down?

pappito says:

Was it Fiordland wasn’t it?
Great work indeed, twas really nice to watch the vid, even I am living here :)

I’m still amazed by the NZ landscape.



Again, another great video. I am scared of heights so kudos to you and your balls of steel. I almost passed out just watching the video. I love all the photos but the first one is definitely my favorite. Your black and white images have a certain ingredient that differentiates them from most black and white photos I see other places.

Keep them coming and I’m always grateful for any behind-the-scenes we get :-)

Chase you nailed it once again! These images are just amazing. Of course it doesn’t hurt that you have a beautiful subject to start off with. I love New Zealand and you certainly know how to bring out the best of it in your photos. Happy New Year and Thanks one more time for sharing!

Patrik Lindgren says:

Great stuff! I think the top one is absolutely amazing. Landscapes and natural pictures are always so “perfect” and often quite boring. The hard contrast works perfect to that sort of images. But it all comes down to taste, and well luckily people have different taste. :)

I guess you know of a Swedish photographer, Hans Strand, he has shot this kind of aerials too. Some of his pictures are like paintings, and some of them are to “perfect” to my taste.

Cool stuff nonetheless.

Russ says:

I didn’t know we had canyons! ;) If you want to blend in – call them valleys.

Niige says:

Home Sweet Home … next time the invite is open for a time through Milford and the Catlins.
Great work as always, showing how diverse NZ is.

David says:

Hi Chase, off topic can you tell me what FTP program you use

Adde says:

Sweet work Chase! Could you do a B&W tutorial and maybe upload a raw file for us to have at it ourself?

David Burns says:

Beautiful Chase ,takes my breath away, love the B&W. Thanks so much for all you share.
A thought on helicopters, while working in New Zealand and Norway last year I’ve used the Raven II a very cool 4 seater by Robinson of California , very smooth low vibration rides and compared to an older Jetranger I was recently on it made for a quite a different shooting experience. Range and and weight is less with the Raven but so is the price, regardless of the ride heli flying is awesome.

Theof says:

Hoping that you can give a few tips or suggestions. I’m very fortunate enough to be invited to go on a ride along with LAPD Helicopter Division and I can only bring one body and one lens. I have a Nikon D300. I’m planning on renting a lens but I’m wondering what lens or type of lens you would suggest using?

At this point I don’t know if I’ll be shooting through Plexiglas or an Open door. I’ll have about an hour of flight time before the sun goes down and then an hour after sundown.

I’m doing my best to be a serious amateur but this feels very over my head and any suggestions are very much appreciated.

Thanks so very much!

To have the money to hire a machine for the day would be nice. :D

A question for you Chase.

Have you every done a full on road trip around the south looking for those other photos? You might be amazed what your flying past. hahaha

Mark Ivkovic says:

Truly breathtaking shots from the ‘blad Chase. Way to stick with your vision.
Someone needs to own up with a dirty sensor shooting some of the video though, c’mon, who’s been a naughty boy? those dust bunnies are gargantuan.
I know from experience that it’s a P.I.T.A. removing dust spots from stills, can’t imagine what’s involved to have to contend with it on video for a client.
Thanks for sharing.

JC Ruiz says:

The first mountain shot is epic. I have no other words to describe it.

Paul Grey says:

Kia ora Chase,

Fantastic shots, I want to second what Adrian Malloch has said above it’s fantastic to see someone putting their own spin on a landscape that has been the subject of so many amazing photographers over the years. The crazy thing is that this is just the tip of the iceberg here in NZ I think you could shoot almost endlessly here.

Have you had any thoughts about running some sort of photography workshop in NZ the next time you are here?

Dejan says:

Inspiring! Thanks for sharing.
The second photo on this page – the darks around the river / glacier are probably post processed? Or was the image already taken like that?

Adam Haworth says:

The first image is stunning great work Chase!!

Nice work. And good to see another personal project. I find that it’s the personal project, that both gets me a lot of my clients, but they also keep the spark alive for me. Although not a lot of them make it to public view, doing them keeps me alive with inspiration.

Keep it coming :-)

Chase, awesome stuff, thanks for posting.

I did my first shoot in a chopper a couple of weeks ago. I had to do a night shoot of Melbourne city. Pushed my 5DII to 6400 ISO and used a 50mm 1.4 @ 1/320. My results are ok but just wondered if you had any advise on how to handle these difficult situations ? Gyro (expensive) ?
Got one amazing shot with my fisheye 2.8 @ 1/60 with sharp results ? Not sure how ?
Thanks so much, Brett.

Kia ora Chase,

That bungy suspension rig looks like a simple solution to a complicated problem.
The few times I’ve done aerial heli work I could have really done with that.
Did you hire it (in NZ) or is it your own? Commercial product or designed and made on the kitchen table?
More info please!
Those black and whites look great to me. Living here, you get use to the predictable arcadian landscape pictures so it’s always good to see a new take on New Zealand landscape photography.
Some New Zealand landscape photographers who also followed their own vision instead of the pack include Brian Brake (Magnum), Robin Morrison and Andris Apse. Well worth checking out.

micael d says:

Nice images. What lenses were you sporting on your H3D?

Jash Malik says:

Great video, amazing pics…. and a camera to drool and dream about!

Dear Chase,

I want your job!!!!!!!
Please can I work with you for a week? Please????

Kind Regards,

Thomas Frank says:

Stunning once again!

Chase, although I like all of your commercial work and all your other free stuff, I really think that the series of NZ pics are the best. I am normally not much a fan of black & white landscape pictures, but your pictures here, they just have to be black and white. Makes me want to go back to NZ very badly.

There is just one thing about it. Aerials are great, and I bet you see a lot from above, but NZ is just so good for trekking and hiking. I hope you had the chance to climb up on these mountains by feet, or at least hike in this vast wilderness. Experience the nature, the feeling of grass under your feet, above you only sky. Would love to see some photos from that perspective too.

Thank you for the inspiration in every blog post.

Greetings from Germany


christian says:

goggles AND sunglasses are so 2010…

Anonymous says:

Hmmmm, love aerials, but not sure about the processing on these. They seem wayyyy too contrasty to me and it is hard to tell what the photos actually are of. I really don’t get the choice to take away the colors either. I guess it is easier to process the crap out of images that you take in bad light, poor weather, etc rather than actually try to get it right in the first place.

Chase Jarvis says:

1. the light is actually rather good in these – great histograms. i just really like the super contrasty image. and removing the color has nothing to do with the image quality. it’s an aesthetic decision. for one it’s an homage to the masters who came before me. for two, i want the entire series to have continuity, yet i go there in several different seasons where things are green, brown, beige, grey, dirty snow, etc etc. black and white allows me to add to the series without compromising the aesthetic despite seasonal and geographic differences.
2. consider not making assumptions about the processing reasoning… to assume makes an ass-(of) U (and) me.
3. sign your name to your posts – you’ll get more credibility from the community.

iPhonePhoto says:

Whoa, bro. You just got served.

wow…I just read this and I wonder how old you are. If I may respond to your post, when I take a photograph, I know how I want it to look (notice my use of “I”). I go into photoshop to make it look the way I want it to look. It is MY decision, MY choice, and I’m sure a lot of photographers agree with me. I’m also sure thats the same mindset Chase uses when taking and making photographs. To insinuate that the post processing was done to mask, as you put it, “bad light”, “poor weather” and “etc” just shows you really have no idea what you’re talking about and you probably stumbled on this blog by accident. Also, you should really take a second look and your work, yourself and the person you’re addressing.

Another advice I’ll give you is that you watch how you communicate with people online…I have noticed that people develop some sort of imaginary confidence while in the comfort of their home in front of their computer screen. Respect is reciprocal and please next time, if you want to be taken seriously, identify yourself. This is a peaceful and respectful community and your attitude is not welcome.

Thanks for your time

Bryan C says:

I was wondering if you used a lot of tripod movement for the video or if many of the movements were just natural flowing chopper movements, amazing work thanks for sharing.

Chase Jarvis says:

combo of smooth chopper, steady hand, and smooth cam plugin in final cut pro.

Ross J says:

Great photographs Chase, always good to see how you do it

It’s great fun doing Aerial photography from a helicopter, here in Aberdeen (Scotland) we take photographs of the Oil Rigs in the North Sea from the Helicopters, but dont have a fancy bracket like that, which i am no going to look into getting :)

Scott LePage says:

Chase – You and your team pull me in. Awesome! IMO, the audio seals it! Great choice of music.

Dan says:


Love the idea…not sure (like afew others) it quite works….its could be my monitor but the level of contrast is too much…i like this style of shooting but the contrast levels in the production dont work for the subject matter (imho)….i spent far too much time trying to work out what it was i was looking at and not enjoying the beauty in the NZ landscape. it also took away from the awesome filmaking process that was used…..

but maybe this was what you where going for………:-)


Grant K says:

Nice pics, but they don’t make me homesick. I think for me the b/w abstractifies them to an arty anywhere a bit. Part of NZ to me is in the colour!

Ollie says:

Hey Chase, when are you in NZ next? Any firm plans?

I had no idea you came to Queenstown!! Really great seeing the different vantage point from a helicopter, I generally walk to half of those places to get some photo’s. Now I must rent out a chopper one day!

I doubt your interested but my Flick photo stream has many of these locations around Queenstown so check it out if you would like

Next time your around do give us a bell and let us locals show you some ‘secret’ spots we have that only Knowledge and Pure Luck will get you.

Bal Deo says:

Brilliant work as usual! Just posted pics up from my recent trip to India on my blog and am now regretting not taking a heli over the Himalayas! Will have to make that a must on my next trip ;)

Great shots. I particularly like the last one. The pattern is very similar to some aerials of Tanzania. Amazing how these two far away locations are finally very similar from above.
My boyfriend is a professional pilot and photographer and he does a lot of aerial photography (yes, while flying the plane himself). The photos he is bringing back home are fantastic. Like for the photos you put in your post, the abstract beauty of nature is stunning.
You might want to have a look at this blog ( and maybe you will want to come to Tanzania to make some aerial photo too! In the mean time I am adding New Zealand to my list of places to visit and photography.
Karibu (welcome, as we say here)

Mike says:

So Chase, you’re in New Zealand? I decided to stay in Brooklyn and eat Chinese food.

Gio says:

Awesome soundtrack to the video. Awesome photos! I bet it was an unbelievable experience.

Trevor Meier says:

Hey Chase, what’s your video stabilization rig of choice for heli shooting? Just using the bungees? Or something more elaborate (gyro’s, Tyler mount, etc.)

Ollie Morris says:

That was possibly the best thing I’ve seen for ages. The stills are amazing, the power of the ‘Blad.

Where do you even begin to start with aerial photography?

Is there any advice you could give?


Chase Jarvis says:

i started with aerial more than 10 years ago. first in seattle, then alaska, then 3 or 4 other continents….

best advice for starting is hiring a chopper ;)

eduardoparra says:

Beautiful photos Chase. Good job!

John Crosby says:

Chase, the tonal richness and contrast in the stills from your New Zealand project are exquisite. These images are inviting, technical, artistic, and offer endless appreciation.

Great stuff, Chase! :c)

Michelle says:

I would crap my pants hanging out of that helicopter but the photos would be worth it. Gorgeous!

DannyB. says:


Perhaps, if possible, a still or 2 in color? Would love to see some.


John C says:

Awesome, such a great view and beautiful place! One can only wish. Congrats.

matthew says:

Count me envious! Amazing views. I hope to have the opportunity to do something similar. New Zealand has been on my “must visit” list for some time. Your blog pieces only solidify my desire to go. Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

Anne-Marie says:

Übercool, so beautiful and thrilling it’s sending chills down my spine! One more thing on my to-do wish list :-)

danlauk says:

Simply stunning work, particularly love the bottom one of the series.

I love the photos and the video, fantastic. Wish I could do some areal photography.

Chris Collie says:

Yeah! Good to see my home country shot in that hard hitting black and white. Great images. Love it.

Scott Harrington says:

Who is the musical artist?

Ken Mott says:


Its Head Like a Kite.


Great work Chase – you made my home look almost as beautiful as it is in real life! Love the high contrast B&W stuff. I hope this note finds you and the whole CJ team well! Come on back to QT, I’d love to give you guys the local tour again!

For those that haven’t visited NZ or Queenstown specifically yet, take it from Chase and myself (a QT local) it really is a stunning place and well worth the effort to get here!

If you’re keen to see more chopper based filming around Queenstown – have a look at this link – – this is a short film I put together last year flying around the Remarakables with skiing on our mind.


Sam Keith says:

How do you capture the rays of light beams? Ive tried to do this on many occasions but they always appear blown out on my images.

Nice work, big fan!

Chase Jarvis says:

manually control your exposure and dial it down until the rays register on your LCD.

steve says:

Chase! Next time you Laforet-it, let me know! I’d love to join you.

On a serious note, we love to discuss “branding.” I’ve heard you use this song in your previous videos. Is “music branding” the next thing? Can Chase Jarvis be distilled to a song? As soon as I heard this song … I thought … Chase! It’s working!

Steve Taylor says:

I love the Panasonic cameras.

Do you sometimes get the shakes due to the cold air from the rotor blades?

Chase Jarvis says:

i’m pretty used to being cold, so it doesn’t bother me too much. down jackets save my life ;) and a layer of goretex over it is a magic combo vs. mother nature.

David Dvir says:

The first still in the blog post is unbelievable, really amazing! I love it.

Great photos as always. You should come to Iceland, it’s nice land.
Thank you for your photos.

Nick Girard says:

This is awesome. I would love to get a chance to cruise around in a heli!
Did you have someone else in the heli with you shooting the video?

Chase Jarvis says:

yeah – scott and i took turns shooting video. rarely shooting both at the same time because you can only turn one side of the heli at the desired “look”.

DanielKphoto says:

Wow, another beautiful video Chase. Love it, for real.

I was wondering, do you prefer to fly over NZ or do you rather shoot from the ground on the slopes, or in the wonderful nature?


Chase Jarvis says:

i like to fly because you can cover so much ground. glacier to beach in minutes.

Chris Plante says:

Win the Lotto or live a Chase Jarvis life style?… I choose the “Chase life”.

Cory Silken says:

If you are not familiar with the work of Bradford Washburn you should check it out. A contemporary of Ansel’s, his work was equally gorgeous B&W landscapes, but much more dynamic. He was one of the pioneers of aerial landscape photography, shooting primarily for mapping, and I think you would enjoy his work. I had the honor and pleasure of making a portrait of him and his wife toward the end of his life, and his stories of the challenges of hanging out the side of an airplane with an 8×10 camera and getting sharp pictures were inspiring.

Brycia says:

Great vid and stills! Brings back memories of when we visited NZ and took a helicopter to the top of Fox Glacier in 1999. Were you near there? Wish I had been into photography more then and had even one of these awesome shots to call my own. It is truly an awe inspiring landscape!

Terry says:

Wow, your job euhhh… s*cks!!! Wanna trade? LoL.
Thanks for sharing :)

Reece says:

Hey Chase,

What gloves do find work best?

Offering warmth and control of the camera?


When I take the camera out ice climbing, i use fairly thick gloves, an old boss of mine gave me a great tip a couple of years ago mainly for winter mountaineering but will work just aswell for photography, Srart wearing your gloves all the time a month or so before it gets cold, then by the time you don’y want to be taking them off you have got used to doin everything in them so you don’t have to. The only thing I can’t do in my gloves, which are very thick winter Motorcycle ones, is get my harness tight enough, tie boot laces-yes, operate my camera-just aswell as in summer,
Hope this helps.

Chase Jarvis says:

there are no gloves that work well IMHO. in this case, i’m just using some buckskin gloves from some hardware store in colorado for 20 bucks. not recommended. but neither are all of my others… i’m just used to cold hands or crappy access to camera controls ;)

Adam says:

Lowepro make some fantastic gloves with thinsulate insulation that I use. Thin but very warm and can still use all the controls on my gear. You’ve probably already seen them but if not, definitely worth a look.

Abhi says:

You never fail to inspire. How on earth did you manage post processing the pics so beautifully. Any tips from Scott again? and what song is that?

Nataliya says:

Ahhh, Chase, why is it in black and white?? I feel like so much info was lost by dropping the colors. Why’d you choose it?? Thanks, Nataliya

Chase Jarvis says:

homage to the masters – but mostly i prefer the aesthetic…especially the snow…in b&w. in the spring that snow is sorta brown and looks much better in b&w.

iPhonePhoto says:

Video is great, but why did you crush the blacks so hard? I feel like you are losing a lot of detail? Just my opinion. You’re the pro, not me!

Oscar Murray says:

Some amazing landscapes, especially when you get to see the maximum depth of field between the mountains, spectacular

Bryan Lowe says:

Hey Chase. Awesome work man. Its pretty cool that little NZ gets some exposure from someone as high profile as you. Love your work. Hope to see you down here some day in person.


Amazing! New Zealand is on my short list, now it’s on my shorter list. Loved the vid Chase. Cheers!

Graham Cull says:

Wow that was amazing! I’d love to get an opportunity to do something like that someday.

So kandinsky, love it

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