Views from Above

“Paul Middlebrook took me up on a flight one afternoon in Dave Shaw’s restored 1943 Stearman. I suggested that we fly low over Hemlock Lake. I was sitting in the rear cockpit and held the camera over my head using a fisheye lens. I later straightened the image out in my computer using special software, so that the viewer could get a sense of what it would be like flying down the lake in this historic aircraft.”

Maine-based photographer Chuck Feil wanted to show us a different view of familiar Finger Lakes places. To do that, he spent countless hours flying 500 feet above ground, searching for breathtaking pictures that best portrayed the colorful, textured landscapes he saw.

His vision is captured in The Finger Lakes Region of New York – A View from Above. Using “Rooty Kazooty,” a two-seater gyroplane he calls his chariot in the sky, Chuck shot about 3,000 photos, flying at speeds as slow as 5 miles per hour.

“I look for scenes that attract and interest the eye,” he said. “I want shots that people normally don’t see, views that challenge their eyes and mindsets. If the book inspires someone to see things in a different way, then I’ve accomplished my goal.”

Chuck had been a photographer for over 20 years before becoming a pilot in 1992. When he grew more comfortable and confident in the air, he started looking down. What he saw inspired him to unite his two passions – photography and flying.

His book includes over 150 pages of aerial photographs shot between spring and fall 2004. Before The Finger Lakes Region of New York – A View from Above, Chuck and coauthor Ernie Rose published eight other aerial photography books of different regions of the United States through their company, VFA Publishing.

Here, Chuck guides us through some of the images featured in the book, explaining his inspirations, techniques and hopes for what readers will discover.
– Heather Merrell

The Finger Lakes Region of New York – A View from Above is available at many area wineries and book sellers. For more information on Chuck Feil’s books, visit or send an e-mail to You can also call 207-829-8036.

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