My New Toy – Drone Photography
This article of My New Toy – Drone Photography is by Paula Fernley, If you would like to write for us, please read here.
My love of photography began when I was a child. I started with a terrible Kodak Instamatic that only seemed to take blurred photos; it was too light for a small girl to hold steady, and it moved every time I squeezed the shutter button. I moved into 35mm compacts then graduated to film and digital SLR’s before progressing to a Fuji mirrorless system. Now I have discovered a new photography love and that is flying my camera drone. This is quite amusing as 2 weeks before I bought this I was heard saying “ I don’t like drones, I can’t see the point of them and I don’t want one”. Oh my, have I had to eat my words?
With the advent of the pandemic, I’ve had to mothball my portrait business. This is difficult in many ways but this has allowed me to get out into the wilds again and have fun taking photographs. Landscaping has always been my first love, and it’s nice to revisit.
How Can a Drone Improve my Photography
The scope for aerial stills photography and videography is immense. When work can begin again I hope to be able to use the drone for portraits of people celebrating their lives and homes. This pandemic has made people re-evaluate what’s important to them and photographs of your families are so important. For now, it’s all about seeing life from a different perspective, seeing things you haven’t seen before and things you have, but from another angle. It has opened my eyes to my local area to record it in a very different way.
As well as much beauty around my local area, there is a lot of house building going on. The landscape is changing dramatically and irreversibly. A drone is a great tool to capture the evolving landscape. Although this is complicated by the presence of a local airport. Air Traffic Control needs to be consulted to make sure they are happy for me to fly doing this work. After all, the last thing I want is to endanger anybody or anything.
I had a situation last year where I was teaching someone to fly their drone on a disused airfield. We had sought permission and it had been granted. So off we went for a lesson. No sooner had we got the drone in the air and we looked to our right, we could see an enormous Hercules transport aircraft flying extremely low across the runway behind. You need to keep your wits about you and have eyes in the back of your head. Having someone else with you to spot is a great idea too. Luckily we were only about 20m off the ground and nowhere near the Hercules but it made the heart pound for a minute or two about what might have been.
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Rules for Flying a Drone for Photography
I know many people that have bought an expensive camera drone then left it in the box for months as they are too scared to get it out and fly it. Trying to find anywhere to fly seems impossible. My advice would be to book some training to gain confidence and do a qualification so you know the rules.
Here I have included a selection of my favorite images. The freedom to get unseen views from familiar locations is tremendous and has really ignited my passion for photography again. The image below is only a few miles from my home but with no high vantage points around I have only seen it a few times going off on holiday in an aeroplane.
This shows a beautiful isthmus on a section of the Cornish coast during a brilliant spell of weather in October. The maximum height you can legally fly is 120 m, when the drone is a little black speck in the sky but it reveals sights you can only imagine from the ground.
A secret beach is revealed, visited only by seals and sea birds. It’s so inviting but there is no way down.
Would you believe this was taken above the Exe Estuary? Taken as the sun was setting. This is two shots that are blended together to cope with the dynamic range. It gives a rich warm feel to a generally unattractive mudflat.
The grasshopper’s view, it’s not all about crazy height, I love this view of the world in warm autumn sunshine.
It’s tough on the fingers flying in frosty conditions but the patterns revealed in the landscape are worth it. The batteries need to be kept warm too. You don’t want them to fail when your drone is 100 meters in the air. The DJI batteries are complex things and you need to set them up correctly and make sure they are fully charged before you leave the house. They have a facility where they discharge and you can set the number of days to discharge. It is easy to get caught out thinking that I charged them when I last flew but if that is longer than your discharge period you will get your kit out of the bag to find your batteries only holding partial charge. Very annoying if you’ve walked a long way to your location. Yes; been there, done that.
My New Toy – Drone Photography Summary by Paula Fernley
The Drone I fly is a Mavic 2 Pro which has a Hasselblad 20 megapixel camera. I’m registered with the CAA, insured, and have gained my A2 Certificate Of Competence qualification so I know the rules that govern flying. Drones must be treated with respect as handled badly they are dangerous so. There are rules concerning how close you can fly to uninvolved people. You also need permission from landowners to take off from their land. Drones have received a lot of bad press and I’m doing my best to be a responsible drone pilot. If it’s something you fancy trying then do plenty of research; the rules and regulations are quite complex. Learn your flying theory before you crash your very expensive camera into the sea or it heads for France all of its own accord.
More of my work can be seen and limited edition prints purchased at www.paulafernley.co.uk.