This is a new weekly series designed to highlight people sharing fascinating photos on Instagram. Every week, we’ll introduce you to a new person who uses Instagram to share a unique perspective on the world. We couldn’t be more excited to kick things off with Adam Senatori (@adamsenatori), a commercial pilot and photographer based in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, who captured our attention with his incredible aerial shots of the fields and farmland that blanket his homestate. We got in touch with Adam to hear the stories behind his photos, what inspires him, and how he manages to fly a plane and Instagram at the same time!
Hey Adam, tell us a little bit about your photography and how you use Instagram.
I’m in the air few times a week and love looking down on the world as it passes below. It always puts my life into perspective. We are small. Life on the surface is a grind. For all of us. So I thought I would share some of what I see weekly from above with the Instagram community. I’m attracted to clean scenes, a single road, a solo object. I’m looking forward to making more aerial Instagrams this winter with the snow. I also use Instagram to take reminder photos of where I was in the air and sometimes as a reference point to return to the same place in the future with my DSLR to shoot a high-resolution photo of the same thing.
What camera, apps, and filters do you use to take your photos?
All of my Instagram photos are shot with an iPhone 4, no exceptions. I use mostly the Earlybird filter or recently the Rise filter and sometimes the Hipstamatic App with the Rise filter on top of that.
So, I have to ask: how do you fly a plane and Instagram at the same time?
Even though I’m a pilot, when I’m making these photos, I always have another pilot next to me actually flying the plane!
6 Photos, 6 Stories
1. This shot was taken about 800’ above the ground, in rural Western Wisconsin, in the morning as the sun was cutting through the morning mist. I was struck by the symmetry of the corn rows, how perfect they were, and the irrigation tracks added to the balance. I actually flew past this scene and doubled back to shoot it. Like most of my aerials, this was shot through an open window.
2. This was shot about 500’ above the ground, in central Wisconsin. It’s very rural there and predominantly marsh and bogs. This IG was taken through an open window. I was attracted to the starkness of the scene and especially the animal paths.
3. This is my favorite IG. This was taken in northern Iowa and was shot about 1000’ above the ground through an open window. I remember it was mostly cloudy but every now and then the sun broke through and created the contrast. It was Fall and everything was golden. I used the Rise filter. This was by far the coldest IG I’ve ever done. With the windows open and the plane moving at 125 MPH, things got chilly quick. It was also REAL turbulent. I guess that’s why they put a windfarm there.
4. This was a fun IG. There is a rural airport in southwest Wisconsin that is surrounded by cornfields and soy fields. We saw this combine harvesting soy from above so we decided to do a few landings and shoot the scene as we flew past. The driver was having fun and gave us a wave.
5. I shot this IG while landing at an airport a mile away. I fly out of this airport often and have been eyeballing this interstate interchange for awhile. Once the lighting and timing were right, I knew I’d have my moment to get this. My goal was to capture how routine life can be and how easy it is to simply follow a given path and how hard it is to make your own.
6. Near Middleton, Wisconsin. I shot this while we were coming into land at a nearby airport, allowing me to get the scene from a unique low altitude, just a few hundred feet above the ground! I fell in love with the light when I came upon this scene. Like many other aerials, we had to double back and re-fly the flight path because I wasn’t ready for it when I passed it the first time. Shadows are crucial when shooting aerials because they add depth to an otherwise flat scene. So shooting in the evening or early morning is best. But, shooting with an iPhone in low light conditions when moving over 100MPH is no good because you can’t directly adjust the shutter speed or aperture on the phone. As a result, the shot can be blurred. I like to shoot from the air around 4-5pm if possible, when there is still enough ambient light to freeze the shot while still catching the shadows and golden light.