Making images viewable on a monitor when shooting aircraft on the ground or from another aircraft is usually difficult, and that’s the reason why Uros Podlogar uses the SmallHD Ultra 5 monitor.
Uros Podlogar has travelled all over the world to capture images of jets and helicopters for Cessna, Beechcraft, and Bell, as well as cars for Porsche, Jeep, and Toyota. Spectacular machines demand spectacular footage… and a way to monitor the footage being captured while working on locations as diverse as deserts and glaciers, runways, and racetracks. Hailing from Slovenia, Podlogar is a long-time enthusiast of SmallHD’s displays, relying on the new Ultra 5 to keep the image viewable, whatever the conditions.
In recent years, at least half of Podlogar’s work has involved aircraft, often for client Textron and its aircraft subsidiaries. One such project involved shooting in Kenya with the Bell 407 helicopter and Beechcraft King Air 360. “It was an amazing experience,” Podlogar recalls. “We did a lot of flying. They were using helicopters for surveillance, anti-poaching, and counting the animals.” While the spectacle of flight is a tempting subject for any photographer, the desire for a dramatic backdrop can conflict with the pilot’s preference for clear blue sky.
Ultra 5 monitor brightness is fantastic
Having photographed aircraft professionally for some years, I also had the chance to photograph wildlife from a helicopter in Kenya – and other helicopters flying around us -, so I agree the experience is something you’ll never forget… as his flying a balloon across the plains there, very early in the day. This is to say that the bright light makes it difficult to see your camera’s LCD or most monitors. In fact, bright sun has historically made monitoring difficult, so Podlogar has often relied on SmallHD’s displays.
“Normally, when we’re shooting other aircraft, we’ll have a gimbal inside and shoot through the open doors. When I switched to the original Ultrabright series it was a game changer for me. I was able to see in the bright sun, and the image quality and the colours were great.” With the new Ultra 5 monitor providing even more brightness, up to 3,000 nits, visibility has become better still. “I need to say that the brightness is fantastic,” Podlogar says. “That’s the number one thing. I got it about a month ago, and I had it with me in Africa, as well as for one project in Switzerland. For automotive I used it for the new Toyota Hilux.”
Travel light and move fast
“My preferred approach for aviation is to shoot around sunrise or sunset,” Podlogar says. “If I could, I would always choose cloudy weather or bad weather, but of course sometimes you can’t do that. Maybe there is no other option than to do it in the middle of the day, especially in the aviation world. Of course, safety is always the first thing in aviation – if the weather is really bad, we wouldn’t do the flight. The aircraft fly in close formation, there’s not a big distance between them. So, if the weather is all right, you need to go.” His equipment needs to be kept up.
Given that need to be agile, Podlogar prefers to travel light and move fast, so the 17oz Ultra 5s fit the bill. “There’s not more than three people on a big set. Normally we do videography and photography at the same time. I shoot Sony cameras – FX9, FX6 and FX3, and we always have two monitors, with one on the camera and one in the back for the client. I’m really looking forward to trying the new transmitter with the Ultra 5.”
In aviation there is no room for mistakes
Maintaining that fast pace while operating from the cabin of a chase aircraft makes SmallHD’s page-based user interface crucial, allowing Podlogar to move quickly between configurations of test and measurement displays. “There’s so much more to a monitor than just image quality. I have different pages for exposure, for focus, for scopes. If you’re flying, flipping pages is much simpler – you don’t have to enter the menu. I really like the dashboard, where you can get key information about frame rate, resolution, bit depth in one place. And I use the camera control for projects on Alexa or Sony Venice. It’s a touchscreen monitor, but it can also be controlled from the joystick and the buttons you can customize. I think what sets the SmallHD displays apart is the ability to totally customize just about every element you need for different projects.”
“For me aviation is really special because there’s no room for mistakes,” Podlogar concludes. “When you’re shooting air to air, you don’t get a lot of second chances. You need to rely on your gear and that’s the number one thing. I’m happy that I turned my dreams into my work. I’m always doing different projects, different themes, so it’s never boring. It’s always something new.”