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AIKEN HORSE April/May 2006
Aiken Farm - The View from Above
Aiken Horse Magazine, April/May 2006, page 54

A View From Above

“There’s so much to photograph on a farm, it’s a great opportunity to be artistic”, says Damon Comparetta, who owns and operates Aerial Photos Elite, LLC. Aerial Photos Elite, based at the Aiken Municipal Airport, specializes in capturing unique images of farms, houses, buildings, golf courses, factories and schools, all from an altitude of 1,000 to 5,000 feet.

Comparetta combines expertise in flying with a lifelong love of photography. An FAA-Certified Flight Instructor with a military background, he founded the company three years ago. Today, he owns his own Cessna and does all the company’s flying and photography.

“All pilots are taught to fly with one hand”, he explains. “With the other hand, I take photos out the open window of the plane.” Because the Cessna is a high-winged aircraft, Comparetta can get quite a good view of what is below him. To snap that perfect aerial picture, he sometimes flies level, but often maneuvers the plane in steep and shallow banks.

Some of Comparetta’s favorite images show horses in fields, the green pastures punctuated by flying egrets. As a testament to his photographic skill, Damon recently won numerous awards from the International Aerial Photographer’s Association, including a Purple Rosette, the Judges’ Choice Award in the artistic category. But Comparetta says that an aerial photo of a farm can be much more than just a pretty picture.

“A photo of a farm is a great marketing and planning tool”, he says. “You can get a much better view of trails and cross-country courses from the air. I might take ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of a farm being built or improved. An aerial photo is also a great gift. Sometimes realtors buy them to give to clients who have purchased an especially nice piece of property.”

Before taking to the air, Comparetta makes a ground assessment of the farm with the owner. This helps him to decide what time of day is best for composing a striking image of that particular property and it gives him an idea of its physical boundaries – in some places it can be challenging to determine where one farm ends and the next begins. Returning by plane, he knows what and where he wants to shoot. The airplane doesn’t usually bother the horses at all, and Comparetta’s camera can zoom in quite close on interesting features.

Aiken farms that have been immortalized recently by Comparetta’s lens include Chime Bell Chase. Aerial photos of the new cross-country course (posted on the CBC website: give an excellent sense of the landscape.

“I can take pictures of smaller properties and houses, too”, says Comparetta. “Any farm deserves an aerial photo.”

– P.G. (Aiken Horse Magazine, April/May 2006)

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