Flying a drone and doing drone photography can be a lot of fun and helps to get those creative juices flowing. However, flying a drone can present some challenges. It takes practice, planning, and patience. It is fairly easy to simply learn to fly a drone for fun but when your goal is to actually photograph or shoot video of a subject the tasks may require a little more focus and effort.
One of the first challenges is finding a place to get a lot of practice. It requires finding a place that you can safely and legally fly your drone. Many people that first get their new drone usually want to find an open field and fly it to see how far and high their drone can fly. When you have a drone that has a camera you have the desire to want to see all the views from the camera you can't see from the ground. Now that is cool, but it can be dangerous. As a drone pilot, you have to take into consideration your surroundings like trees, power lines, people, buildings and many other things that can damage your drone or even worse hurt someone. When I got my drone may the first goal was not to test the limits of my drone. My main goal was to find out how to properly fly the drone, learn the technology of the drone, how to fly it legally, and most of all how not to crash it.
Another challenge to flying a drone is finding a place to fly the drone where you can legally fly it. Yes, new drone owners don't think about that when they get a new drone. Most new drone owners launch their drone and want to see how high they can fly and what they can see from a high elevation. That is cool, but it can be very dangerous. There are limits and restrictions on flying a drone. For example, since I am not a certified drone pilot the highest I can legally fly my drone in most situations is 400 feet. I know my drone can fly much higher. For me, learning my limits and restrictions is pretty easy. My son is a certified commercial drone pilot and provides me guidance on what I am allowed to do when flying my drone. To find out where I can legally fly my drone I need to know exactly where I can fly my drone either for practice or to conduct an actual photo or video shoot. To do that I use a simple app called "AirMap" for my DJI Phantom Pro. It provides me with information on where I can fly my drone and where I cannot. It uses my current location to display my limitations. As you can see from the AirMap App I have limitations. The orange circles indicate where I cannot fly. You can see why planning where to fly is very important. The last thing you want is to get slapped with a $10,000 fine for flying in a restricted area.
On my last drone shoot, I visited a local park called the Oak Hollow Park in High Point North Carolina. My goal was to find a nice location to practice flying my drone. Now I would not recommend flying your drone if you are not confident enough to fly it over water. The Oak Hollow Park is surrounded by a large lake called, you guessed it, the Oak Hollow Lake. After flying the drone a couple of times and getting accustomed to the controls I felt confident enough to not crash my drone into the lake. Once I scoped out the lake and surroundings I started looking for a subject to shoot. There was a couple of fisherman in the lake and I started to video them but I thought that would be pretty boring. Then I realized that I could get a photograph and video of the Oak Hollow Golf Course which was located across the lake about a half mile away. On a previous video shoot, I tried to get a video of another golf course in my local area but was unsuccessful. However, I figured if I could reach the Oak Hollow Golf course from the park I could possibly get a nice area photo and video of the golf course. After a couple of dry runs near and over the golf course, I was able to get the shots I wanted.
All-in-all, my day of photographing and shooting video was a lot of fun. I feel more confident as I continue to get more practice with my drone. It is always good to practice as much as possible, plan your shoots, and be patient when flying a drone. My drone is a very expensive and important part of my photography gear. I don't want to lose it due to poor planning and a lack of practice. I am enjoying my drone photography and I plan to do a lot more of it in the future.
Until next time, keep shooting!