I did not grow up with a natural interest in photography. My first true passion was flying. I joined the Air Force out of high school to go to fighter pilot training, but ended up finding that the military way of life was not for me. I continued to follow the civilian flying career path by getting my commercial and instructor ratings.
But I always found myself making time for "sport" flying, which was what interested me more than just traveling from point A to point B. Being that I grew up in Mammoth, I was lucky enough to be building the majority of my flying time on scenic flights. Of course, my passengers always had cameras, and they were frantically snapping away. Almost every flight ended with the passengers saying they wished they had brought more film, or that we had more flight time. I realized how lucky I was to be able to spend that much time in the air, and I had every opportunity to capture images that are rarely seen, much less photographed. But this was during the pre-digital age, and I really couldn't afford the film and processing. So I dropped the idea. Then one day the digital SLR was created.
I am still very new to photography. I admit I am not much past amateur level in post-processing techniques, and I have mastered only a couple of manual shooting settings. My expertise is in my flying. I have spent thousands of hours in the air and know how to place an airplane in an exact point in space for a one-of-a-kind perspective of an object on the ground. In the last few years, I have learned how to "pat my head and rub my belly" at the same time in order to put those perspectives into digital form. I have also learned that photography is as much being in tune with the environment around you as it is understanding f-stops and composition. My flying skills have improved to a level I would have never attained without taking a camera into the cockpit, and I have finally realized that dream I had of being a fighter pilot - I locate my target, line up the crosshairs, and shoot.
For a slideshow sampling of Troy's aerial work, see his business website: www.theaerialimage.com/