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Monday, 02 January 2017


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I'm older than you and not using a drone. But they seem to be getting easier to use. But not easy to support. But even that is changing. Foldable. Batteries and planning seem like the biggest issues.

Had you lost faith in photography indeed, as the post title & content imply?
This is a bit unsettling...

For those who can't access the NYTimes website, there's a nice selection at the BBC News photo page: http://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-38390897

For more than 10 articles a month in the Times, cut and paste the article title, or type it into Google and then it opens up.

I somehow share your fear of having to learn dronography. Besides the age and lack of predisposition, I cannot afford a drone right now. Photography pays me no bills, so drones will stay at the bottom of my list of priorities.
However, I can't argue there's a world of possibilities drones can bring to photography. Many of the pictures featured on the article you've linked to are wonderful. One or two of them are simply mind-blowing. The only downsides of drones are the potential for intruding other people's private lives and the risk that the democratization of drones will make this kind of photography too commonplace.

One of the pictures that should have featured on the Time's article is the one I link to below. The photographer is a Steve McCurry wannabe called Joel Santos, who merrily trades content for technique - but I can't help recognizing he reached sheer excellence with this one. Check it out:


The best of a drone photo I've ever seen was taken before of the drones and it wasn't even taken with a drone ! Some students dangled a point and shoot camera with a weather baloon with an appropriate angle. They arranged their shutter to shoot at the appropriate time with a trigger device. I don't remember if it was pressure activated or a remote.After their baloon deflated and descended they found the camera with a GPS tracking device. They captured a clear shot of the horizon with a great image of the Earths curviture.

Had you lost faith? I didn't notice....

I looked through the year in pictures, and there's some cracking shots there. I liked Nos. 11 and 21 of the drone photos, even though 21 is on it's side. No. 21 is still on it's side on the BBC News photo page that Chuck Albertson linked to, but it's been heavily cropped too. At least it's big enough to see which way up the sheep are meant to be; the right hand end should be at the top.

It might be the local patriotic angle, which is (also) influences me. But I liked the drone photos published in Wired by Michael Rasmussen


A very easy way around limits on article, is to open up the link in another browser

My favorite drone photo is 110 years old.


I'm waiting with bated breath for a drone to show up here out in the woods where I live! I've got an over/under 12 gauge skeet gun ready when one does! YAY!

With best regards and Happy New Year,


Long before there were drones, there were hot-air balloons and view cameras. Today you can get aerial shots using a 13' light stand and a 'phone app.

Here are two from Vincent Laforet. The first using a real chopper over NYCity on election night https://vimeo.com/192401018 and the second using a DJI Mavic Pro on New Years Day http://blog.vincentlaforet.com/2017/01/02/swarm-2017-how-lucky-we-are-in-2017/

BTW the NYTimes, and others use "cookies." Ask a 10 year old relative how to clear "cookies" from your web browser.

Another "before there were drones":


Among may sites dedicated to KAP. I made a brief attempt at this about a decade ago. Quite challenging ... and somewhat fun.

Yes, drones. I saw a small one - chesp plastic toy variety - shatter a few car lemgths in front of me as I was driving home on an interstate. The first one I'd seen outside a hobby shop or toy store, actually. I thought to myself, "well, that's the first time I've seen that happen." I paused a moment, and contemplated the structure of that sentence, anjd felt a bit of a chill as I realized that would not be the last time I would see such a crash. I said a wordless prayer of thanks that it hit the ground and not me, and that it was of so little mass. I could see how it would happen - a kid playing with a new toy, with no understanding of the powerful currents of air swirling just above that road, and no insight about how much damage even a small object can cause to a much larger, faster object.

I would love to have a drone - it would be great fun to take to the reservoir - and I could easily check my gutters myself, no ladders needed. But I could just as easily scare the wildlife, drop the thing (and it's lithium battery) into the reservoir I and my family, friends, and neighbors drink from, or short out the powelines that run next to my roof as I check my gutters.

It changes ideas of privacy and aesthetics too. There are a whole lot of places that are mysterious that are now subject to angles of view no architecht ever planned for. How do I feel about my backyard, hidden from casual view for longer than I've lived being not so private? Surely I'll never be conscious of every drone that will be within the line of sight while I'm out gardening? So I should always think of myself as "in public" wherever I can see the sky? What will that be like?

Anyway, of course those are some fantastic photographs, only possible because of drones. Kudos to those photographers, and thank you for pointing to them. (Though I'll take a page from Benjamin Marks above, and forgo looking at the news photos.)

Peace be with you.

Drones have their uses. I saw a great documentary on African macaque monkeys yesterday and a drone had been used in an unobtrusive way to get video of the apes in the trees. It was very well done.

Another use, not related to photography, has been proposed: the delivery of emergency medical supplies to remote locations in the Australian outback, locations that would take a day's drive through rugged country to reach. And where an aircraft landing might not be possible or may be too hazardous and expensive.

I'm not interested for my own photography. I don't have the planning skill. I bought a DJI OSMO handheld gimbal camera last May, but to be honest, it's sitting on the shelf unused after the initial novelty wore off. No, I'll stick to good old stills and walking or driving around.

I don't know how the FAA would react but CASA, the Australian equivalent, has been fining people heavily for flying drones where they shouldn't (like over their neighbours' houses).

For example:




I'm curious also as to how people see drone photography. Is it even "real" photography given the camera is not in the hands of the photographer?

I love good photos, but I don't want to view depressing/horrible news photos. Life is hard enough without seeking out the hardest parts.

Don't worry too much about learning to photograph using drones. It's near certain in my mind that they will be illegal in most countries within 5 years or, at very least, will require a license before you can buy one.

Don't fret about drones Mike! It's just options. I was about to expand on that thought when I read Laforet's comments on the Swam video that c.d.embrey posted above.

Years ago, a series of shots like this might have cost a small fortune and a significant amount of preparation and effort.

In this case, this video was shot somewhat haphazardly and was far from a sure thing from the start. AND FAR from a goal or necessity.

Allow me to explain…

The little drone that shot this footage can fit in a large cargo pants pocket, and costs less than $800 – and the little sucker shoots 4K footage.

It's not that you have to learn drones. It's that you don't need to hire helicopters. I wonder if chopper pilots are lamenting drones the same way photographers sometimes lament smartphone cameras.

I'm with Barry Reid. A couple of well-coordinated and very nasty terrorist attacks using drone bombs, and that'll be it.

Maybe impossible to know but looking at the selects here and in general, what I see is despite autofocus tech getting better and better, photographers are rooted in concrete to that center - either it is the "tyranny" of the 35mm frame - the vestige of Leica history that won't go away, a terrible proportion that forces such simplistic compositions- or it is the other tyranny- "autofocus" where we can't simply focus the frame as we used to manually but are locked to the central region. There's no Best of 1980 to compare with.....but I would wonder if we used to be more free, both with format shape and with composition.?

How about you take a NY Times electronic subscription at $10/ mo. and support one of the surviving bastions of journalism, and have your share of leaning, rather than figure out how to screw them in the fine tradition of "everything is free"?

Considering how you make a living I'm surprised you published that "how to" comment Mike.


[I've subscribed to the Times from the beginning, and have advocated many times that others do so as well, for the photographic content alone. --Mike]

Drones may be new-ish. The desire for a higher point of view isn't. As a child in the 1970's I was mesmerized by a kite camera, operated by pullstring, shown in an old Boys' Own manual. Then I begged my parents for an Estes camera rocket.

I got into flying RC aircraft as things switched from gas-powered to electric power, the same time that digital cameras became small enough to attach to a modest aircraft. I've been enjoying strapping little cameras to gliders, biplanes and quadcopters ("drones") ever since!

Anyone worried about privacy hasn't shot with a drone. The lenses favour wide angle, and no one is flying with a 1000mmm zoom. These things would need to get mighty close for you to be able to recognize your face. Think of a drone as carrying a 28mm or 35mm lens... unless you are on top of your subject, you are shooting a general vista only.

"I'm curious also as to how people see drone photography. Is it even 'real' photography given the camera is not in the hands of the photographer?"

I don't really have a strong opinion one way or another about using drones for photography - I like some of the images, but the drones can be annoyingly intrusive, especially in natural settings. But in terms of "real" photography - they're no less real than infrared triggered remote "trap" cameras long used to capture elusive wildlife pictures (or the wheeled versions used to get closer to wildlife than would be advisable otherwise).

I love drones. Since my neighbour bought one I developed an entirely new passion, for archery.

Oops, good rant Gabe, but wasn't that word "learning" rather than "leaning" in describing the NYTimes. Freudian slip?

Thanks for understanding Mike.


What a wonderful collection of images that can only be taken from an airborne point-of-view. It makes an earthbound photographer sit up and take notice. I especially liked #6, Guerlédan Lake in Saint Gelven, France, #19, the Caravan of Camels, and #26, the placid scene of trees in Sauerland, Western Germany.

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