To Drone or Not To Drone… Part 2 of 6

We hear it everywhere, the din of drones. It’s an exciting new time to be in aerial photography with new ways to see the world. It has opened up a new layer of airspace to us (see graphic below). Depending upon the type of angles, views and use of the imagery, you now have several choices. So when do you go drone?

For us, we determine the platform through a discussion with our clients on every project. Sometimes, the best thing in the end is not always a drone. Here are a few key questions to ask when deciding which aerial platform to use:

What altitude is best for the shot? Many times, the goal is to see for miles and miles. That is best done from much higher than the maximum altitude of drones (400′ per FAA guidelines). There are many platforms to do this; helicopters are great around congested areas, airports and between 800′ – 3000′. For really wide expanses of land, the fixed wing gives us maximum altitudes and can be very economical.

What is the image format needed? Still photographs, video, both? The drones are fantastic at capturing video. It’s smooth, gorgeous and the dual controllers get the best camera angles. If high resolution stills are needed for large format printing, there is no beating a full sensor DSLR (Nikon or Canon, whichever you prefer). The cameras on the drones are great for most uses but remember their resolution is still about 10-12MP.

Is there anything getting in the way of using a drone? If your site is close to an airport, highway, over a crowd or in any other restricted space, it may not be possible to use a drone. A lot of the time, the helicopter can get into more spaces safely and may be the best choice. Or even alternative aerial platforms like lifts and masts can be used.

Using a drone just to use a drone may not be the best reasoning before you take to the skies. Think about all of the factors and then decide what platform is safest, best and going to get you the best imagery. We would be happy to answer any of your aerial photography questions. Safe flying and always wear your seat belt!

Wendy Whittemore – Flight Commander

Aerial Innovations of TN, Inc.

View Part One of this 6 blog series




The Rise of the Drone

This weekend the FAA made progress on its deadline of regulating drones or UAS (Unmanned Air Systems) for commercial use. They have certified 2 fixed wing drone systems, Insitu’s Scan Eagle X200 and Aero Vironment’s PUMA. With a long way to go until the 2015 deadline of “opening the skies to drones” there are still a lot of questions to answer in regards to safety, airspace, operator licensing, insurance and use. And although 2015 seems close, the US is still far behind most of the world including Canada and the UK with allowing this technology to take off. 

There is a lot of misinformation and speculation surrounding the rise of the drone. As the owner of an aerial photography company, I am often asked about drones. Questions focus mainly on how it will affect the professional aerial photography business. Most assume we see them as a threat, that everyone will own a drone and there will be no use for a company to provide this service.

Our industry was once thought to be dying when everyone became a photographer with accessible digital photography tools and google earth which provided aerial images for free! In both cases, the technology increased our efficiency, gave us more control and created more of a demand for our services. Upon its invention in the late 1800s photography itself was seen as a threat to fine art and professional photographers cried foul when Kodak released easy to use cameras to the mass public early in the 1900s. And yet, photography has only become more amazing with each advance.

Will the professional aerial photography business survive this new technology? It will all depend on a company’s professionalism, adaptability and the quality of photography they are able to provide. The keyword is “business” and if there is a strong foundation of relationships, systems and quality, survival is guaranteed.

Wendy Whittemore

Owner – Aerial Innovations of TN, Inc.

 Here are some links to interesting articles

Canadian Regulations for UAV Systems

Newsday Article on FAA Certification

Get your Drone Pilot’s License!