Thought I would share some shots from the drone on a recent commission for Peel Ports – the owners of Great Yarmouth harbour.
Before even taking off there was a fair amount of planning required, as with most commercial flights –
• We selected a day when the weather would be at it’s optimum – good light, no rain, very light winds
• Calculated the best time of day for the shoot taking into account the main photographic angles required, position of the buildings & harbour and the path of the sun
• Obtained clearance to fly from the harbourmaster at the Port Authority
• Checked the NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen) for any flight restrictions, eg. Red Arrows display or low level military aircraft exercises
• Ensured we didn’t need clearance from Gt Yarmouth airport (we were well clear of their airspace).
• The Risk Assessment had been completed a few days previously and submitted.
• Pre-flight checks were completed, local potential hazards noted and plans put in place in case of technical issues

…and we were good to take-off and follow the brief to get a wide range of shots of the harbour from various angles and altitudes (while staying within the legal max altitude of 120m and no further than 500m from the controller at all times to ensure VLOS (Visual Line of Site) with the drone at all times).

In order to maximise the time in the air I bracketed the exposures while keeping the camera ISO at a minimum, selected a small aperture to ensure as much of the images was in focus as possible and fitted a polarising filter to the lens to bring out the blues in the sky while also minimising glare off the water.  The drone was set to shoot RAW files (as always) to allow me to bring out the maximum information and detail from the images in post-process.  Owing to the size of the area to be covered and the altitude limit I also took a number of shots while slowly panning the aircraft which allowed me to stitch them together for some 180 degree panoramic shots.

As you can see there’s a lot of planning that goes into each flight, not to mention the skills required in taking the best possible images and piloting the aircraft in a large industrial area (with huge metal structures and a powerful radar messing with my controller frequencies!)

As a professional drone pilot I have PFCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), £2M public liability insurance and three drones in case one should fail while I am on a commission.  It’s details like this, legal and otherwise, which make it essential that you hire an experienced professional when deciding who to commission for your aerial photography and video needs.  There are plenty of drone operators offering aerial services, sadly many operating illegally, even in Norfolk, but it’s not just the ability to fly a complex piece of technology and a few certificates that make a good drone pilot.  Since drones are essentially flying cameras a thorough working knowledge of photography, cameras, settings, composition, light and knowing how to be post-process the images is what makes the difference between a drone pilot and an aerial photographer.

If you’d like a free quote for your aerial photography or video requirements please feel free to get in contact to discuss how I can help.

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