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Drone photography - Discussion and pics/vids

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Norman Breaks
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2021 3:38 pm

Drone photography - Discussion and pics/vids

#1

Post by Norman Breaks »

My mate was selling his drone cheap since he hardly used it and I've been into photography for a while I bought it.

It's a few years old, the Mavic Air (1st edition)

Still need to get an SD card for it and only had a quick test flight at night (not ideal) but I'm looking forward to trying out some of the features and capturing some interesting areal shots. Anyone else have a drone and gotten any decent results from? Post 'em here.

Any user tips for beginners?
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Scotty
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Re: Drone photography - Discussion and pics/vids

#2

Post by Scotty »

I've considered buying one several times but my fear is I'd use it for an hour, get bored, and it'd never see the light of day again. Plus the regulations have gotten quite restrictive.
CelticRambler
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Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2021 6:19 pm
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Re: Drone photography - Discussion and pics/vids

#3

Post by CelticRambler »

I've had a Mavic Pro for several years. It was a carefully considered purchase, fusing interests in flying and photography/cinematography and was a good idea at the time. If I had to consider it now, though, I don't think I'd buy one, the main reason being tighter regulations and an increasing number of no-fly zones. Having said that, I had it up in the air yesterday, although that's in the context of an on-going landscaping project (and, as it happens, the drone has proven extremely useful in that regard over the course of this year - have clocked up more hours hovering over the same 7500m² this year than all previous flights combined!)

My experience of the last few years has identified a few persistent obstacles to getting really good use out of it (or should I say less use than I thought I'd get)
- battery life: the batteries discharge in a controlled fashion when stored, which is great for maintaining their 20-30 minutes flying time when you're using them, but not great when you want to get the drone in the air in a hurry after several weeks of inactivity. I've missed several interesting photo opportunities through lack-of-charge; and this doesn't just apply to the drone itself, but you have to also watch the battery level on the remote controller and the phone/tablet if you're using one.

- set-up time: compared to my regular DSLR (grab, flick "on" switch, remove lens cap, shoot) getting the drone ready to take a picture takes ages! Not only is there a short (but long enough) boot-up time for the controller, the drone and the tablet, but the drone itself has to be unfolded carefully and the camera stabiliser removed (plus ND filters fitted, if using these); and it takes time to fly it into position to take the pictures you want - which may require a few "exploratory" flights first to know which angle, what height, gets the shot you're after. If the target image is some distance away, you might need to do two flights, one to set everything up, then return to base to switch batteries, then head back to shoot the photo or video for real.

- lack of interest! No, I don't mean my lack of interest, but the lack of an interesting subject. Aerial views of most landscapes are pretty boring - you lose all sense of height once you go about 100m up, so you really, really need to have an interesting focal point to make it worth the hassle of having your batteries charged and taking the time to set things up. I'm surrounded by a lot of monoculture farmland, so the best I can hope for (usually) is patterns in the fields. If you have a second person available, or have a good relationship with your hard-working neighbour, then you can get think of getting some nice fly-past video footage of someone doing something active; otherwise you'll be stuck with passive "dolly" shots, the likes of which there are millions of hours on YouTube.

Tips? Only one, for now:
- further to the last paragraph, some of the best shots/video footage you'll get are not taken at a high altitude, but close - even really close - to the ground. The basic principles of photo/video don't change just because you can put the camera 500m up in the air, and most of the best shots I've seen (subjective opinion, of course) are those taken quite low to the ground - terrain-following flights, for example, or spiralling orbital shots around a person/vehicle. Amongst my own test footage, my favourite footage would usually be where I've flown the drone under the trees rather than over them; you can do the same with doorways, bridges, etc (obstacle avoidance systems permitting).
CelticRambler
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Re: Drone photography - Discussion and pics/vids

#4

Post by CelticRambler »

A couple of photos:

As posted recently on another thread
Image

And from a frosty morning, a couple of years ago:
Image
bullets
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Re: Drone photography - Discussion and pics/vids

#5

Post by bullets »

Had a workmate build drones as a hobby and I spent a long time arse'ing to buy one but I knew I'd only use it a few times and it would be left there. I ended up buying a mavic mini last year and so have not found an opportunity to use it so far, I've only given it a test flight and thought it was cool but unsure now what to do with it. Every time I connected it to my Samsung phone to act as a screen it triggered a USB moisture warning and the software would not function, The restrictions about where you can fly them are becoming a pain in the ass, I went to take it down to my local family park only to find that they've got signs up saying No Drones allowed, I was reading regulations and apparently I cant even fly the thing in my own back garden if I'm living in a suburban housing estate, found a location where I could do some ariel photography with a model with the ruins of a castle and it was very close to no-fly zones because of an airports restricted airspace. I had read about national parts in some countries not allowing them, and read about even some countries like Morocco last year were confiscating Drones in the airports if you were caught with one as they had some restrictions in place.

I knew of at least 2 photographer who used them in an interesting way where they used them to do Ariel Art Nude Photography.
ie your Nude Model is lying on the ground in an interesting place like the ruins of a castle or in a boat in a lake or in a field etc and you use the drone to shoot images overhead from a height.

~B
CelticRambler
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Location: Central France

Re: Drone photography - Discussion and pics/vids

#6

Post by CelticRambler »

bullets wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 1:10 pm I knew of at least 2 photographer who used them in an interesting way where they used them to do Ariel Art Nude Photography.
ie your Nude Model is lying on the ground in an interesting place like the ruins of a castle or in a boat in a lake or in a field etc and you use the drone to shoot images overhead from a height.
All practical considerations taken into account, this is now about the limit of the usefulness of drones - a low-cost alternative to renting cherry-pickers, helicopters or other aerial platforms for shots that just can't be done on solid ground.

I wouldn't dream of trying to take a drone with me on a trip involving airports, and I rarely bother to take it even when I'm lugging around a case full of other photography gear. Now that'd be different if I was, for example, travelling with someone who wanted me to video them training for a three-peaks type challenge ... but then you're into serious video production with all that that entails; it's not just a bit of flying for fun anymore.

Today's tip (for beginners): always fly up-wind on your first leg. On a pleasant day, it's easy to think that the air is calm and it won't matter what direction you set off in, but a couple of hundred metres up, there can be much stronger winds that'll burn through your battery's capacity faster than you think. If you've let those winds carry you down-wind, by the time you get the "low battery" warning, chances are it'll already be too late to get back to base and you'll need to execute an emergency landing somewhere and hope you can get to your device before someone else does. There are ways of managing this situation, but first get in the habit of always flying up-wind on your outbound journey.
Norman Breaks
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Re: Drone photography - Discussion and pics/vids

#7

Post by Norman Breaks »

Some great insights from some more experienced droners. Thanks for that. I live in Canada and there is an online test you have to do to get a license. I'm yet to do it but from what I gather it's basically just a lesson on where not to fly.
You can do a more advanced course that involves actually flight the drone which allows to to fly in more places. I'll be leaving this one for a while and probably only go for it if I start getting into it in a bigger way and for paid work.

On a more creative note, I want to wait until winter, get some smoke bombs, head out to the outskirts of the city and find a nice open area (easy to find in Manitoba) and do some criss cross fly overs of someone (or two people) hanging out the side of a car holding the smoke bombs. I think the contrast of the coloured smoke and the white snow could look cool. :mrgreen:

Aside from that there is lots of green spaces by the rivers here that would be interesting to get areal shot of. A bit further out there are some abandoned buildings and barns that could make for interesting fly by shots.
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isha
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Re: Drone photography - Discussion and pics/vids

#8

Post by isha »

I bought a Mavic Pro a while ago for work projects, am just really learning it. Got the license etc.
It is amazing the imagery one can get. And it definitely uplifts a video to use a bit of drone footage. Although I sincerely believe they are over-relied upon nowadays to substitute for creative weakness. As are a lot of special effects. Drone imagery no matter how beautiful becomes exhausting and boring quite quickly - I think this is because it is detached from the earth, ungrounded in a real sense, and does not create the emotional connection in the viewer. It is empty in an odd way. I like to stay on earth with film.
Even if there was no regulations I would never fly it anywhere near anyone's home as I think they are terribly invasive. I use it far away from populations, just in the hills, over lakes etc. I would love to do more sea drone work but I am terrified it would drop into the water. Footage close over waves is mesmerising. I have had a few near misses with it not traveling back readily to me from over a couple of hills. They are a bit scary in that way as it is a big investment.
My sons help me learn it, they are definitely braver than me when it comes to trying tricks, although I managed to whack off the blades on a recent attempt to do some groovy manoeuvres through a tree lined bank. But the blades are cheap enough to replace and no harm was done. I was getting a bit cocky about it and one of my lads showed me their friends work - it would blow your mind what kids can do with this tech. There is no way one could compete - they fly them with VR type headsets and like they are a transhuman augmentation to their bodies. I will link one of those videos later when I find it.
bullets
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Re: Drone photography - Discussion and pics/vids

#9

Post by bullets »

Norman Breaks wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 3:52 pm
On a more creative note, I want to wait until winter, get some smoke bombs, head out to the outskirts of the city and find a nice open area (easy to find in Manitoba) and do some criss cross fly overs of someone (or two people) hanging out the side of a car holding the smoke bombs. I think the contrast of the coloured smoke and the white snow could look cool. :mrgreen:
I used to love Smoke Bombs as a Kid but things got a heck of a lot more restrictive in Ireland over the years were you almost need permission to wipe your own arse these days.

In the UK/Northern Ireland Smoke Bombs are easier to acquire for use in Photography and other purposes.
In little ol Southern Ireland however were not even allowed Smoke Bombs! the little cherrybomb round small yokes you light with a fuse that produce smoke or the canister type smokes or actual smoke grenades, fireworks or anything else falls under Pyrotechnics which need a license which only a few people/company's have in Ireland have.....I still see lots of photographers get them imorted from Northern Ireland or order them online or "acquire" the chemicals (which also are restricted) to boil in a pot make some incendiaries and then the models publish photos online with them holding the things where the coloured smoke going everywhere tagging the tog blindly oblivious that potentially they could be charged with an offence since they are illegal.

~B
Norman Breaks
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Re: Drone photography - Discussion and pics/vids

#10

Post by Norman Breaks »

I live down the street from a fireworks shop. I cycle by it almost everyday. I've gotten some smoke bombs from there before to do a shoot (not with a drone) so I'm not worried about that.
They often have fire bans here during dry spells in the summer but in winter there will be do issue.
Norman Breaks
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Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2021 3:38 pm

Re: Drone photography - Discussion and pics/vids

#11

Post by Norman Breaks »

Took the drone out about 10 mins south of the city for a bit of a test flight and to get used to the controls and features. I can see it being a lot of fun as well as being able to some nice pro looking sweeps and shots.
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