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Author Topic: Landscape Photography using UAVs  (Read 2294 times)
LesPalenik
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« on: June 23, 2014, 07:59:07 PM »
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Thank you, Stephen for sharing your experience.

This type of photography would appeal to me, but living in Ontario, I have two concerns:
1. There is a lot of talk about coming UAV regulations and that if you want to publish or sell your pictures, you'll require a commercial license for your UAV. Are there any exceptions or ways to avoid this requirement?

2. Wind factor. Quite often, I photograph things around the water edge and on many occasions I encounter winds between 20 and 30 km/h, with occasional gusts even stronger.  How does the wind affect the stability and safety of the copter? Do you use your setup only in windless conditions or do you dare to fly it also in windy weather?


 
« Last Edit: June 23, 2014, 11:16:38 PM by LesPalenik » Logged

John Camp
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« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2014, 09:33:42 PM »
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There's nothing that I'd enjoy more than being out in some beautiful, pristine wilderness area, enjoying the sunset, and having a miniature helicopter clattering overhead. Certainly would enhance the experience.

My son lives in San Diego, and a neighbor of his flies one of these things around the neighborhood. Some people in the neighborhood believe he is spying on them. I have no idea whether this is true or not, but I fully expect that some evening this helicopter will be blasted out of the sky with a shotgun. Be a terrible waste of a D-800. To take care of such issues, I would suggest that all UAVs require licenses, and an umbrella insurance policy to cover possible claims of invasion of privacy, damage to property in case of crashes, noise pollution, etc. I think a $20 million policy, payable annually, should be adequate. 
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Mike Sellers
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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2014, 10:00:06 PM »
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Hey John,
I`ll bet Davenport and Flowers would blast it out of the sky!
Mike
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LesPalenik
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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2014, 11:01:04 PM »
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Well, I guess it depends on the location.
Where I was thinking a 100-ft tall tripod would come handy, there are usually no other people, just bears and wolves and they come here in bigger numbers than the legally registered shotguns. The lake wind and wave sounds kill any nearby noise, so you don't even hear any approaching intruders. Actually, some guidebooks recommend when in the bear country, to make noise with bells and to bang pots, so maybe night sorties by a low-flying copter with flashing lights above the tent could keep the campsite safe.  

I wouldn't worry about the insurance. The only inhabitants those UAVs could collide there with, are billion years old boulders and they could take any encounters with the flying objects in stride.

I know several groups of small uninhabited islands in the Great Lakes that just beg to be photographed from above and not even loons and seagulls would notice anything.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2014, 03:44:32 AM by LesPalenik » Logged

laughingbear
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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2014, 02:51:54 AM »
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Thanks Stephen, very interesting to read. I remember back in early 2007 I proposed such a solution to the head of a major real estate company. He was fascinated by the idea that I proposed, to shoot the upmarket properties and surrounding landscapes with a specialised copter. We would have been the only company in the country to offer that, and some back of the envelope calcs were promising, he knew how many properties would be suitable, and I knew the costs and the technicalities to achieve that, it would have turned out a profitable fun business in deed, if not....

At the end of 2007 I ditched that idea.

In the week before the 25th of November 2007, alone in Ireland € 7 billion was wiped of the stock market, in 3 days!
 
There was something in the air, and it was not a quadcopter!
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snoleoprd
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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2014, 08:32:24 AM »
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Nice article. I have been dabbling in it for a short time. A very interesting medium. Like anything it can be abused or it can be used for making some interesting images. I choose interesting images.  I have been to places where the photographers there have been very annoying and make it difficult for anyone else to enjoy the spot. I could see the same with a multicopter but if used with some care it can be a useful tool.

Alan
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Alan Smallbone
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« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2014, 08:49:47 AM »
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I live in Ontario (Canada) and a friend is an enthusiast. According to his understanding of the current regulations, if you use a UAV for any kind of remuneration, then you have to fulfill some federal flight regulations, i.e., flight plans, proof of insurance, etc. He joined a local flying club and his membership in that club provides him with insurance for personal use. It sounds like the regulations may be in flux, as some of the requirements are more obviously attuned to flying aircraft, not UAVs. Getting insurance is a good idea, you should not assume that you're covered by your home insurance.

Sooner or later, one of these is going to doop out of the sky and injure someone. It may have already happened. Also, sooner or later, we'll have mid-air collisions of UAVs. And yes, people will start shooting down nuisance drones, I am sure of it.

As for photo use, it will probably be a fad for a while, new toy syndrome, but some nice work might emerge. They are already very popular at sporting events, amateur or otherwise, providing coverage that would otherwise be impossible or very expensive to get.
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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2014, 09:59:57 AM »
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Leaving aside the annoyance factor, UAV's have provided new and different perspectives and photo opportunities.  https://www.flickr.com/groups/943500@N23/pool/

Video can be  even more interesting. http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/22/tech/innovation/drone-uav-photography/
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wheatcraft
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« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2014, 04:43:09 PM »
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I am not familiar with what is going on in Canada, so I can't offer any help there.
With regard to wind, I have flown my Phantom 2 in 10-15 mph (15-25 km/hr) winds comfortably, but that is towards the edge of my comfort zone. I have also flown my S1000 with winds in that range with no problem. The S1000 being bigger and heavier can fly in higher winds comfortably, for sure. As a good rule of thumb, I would say that winds up to 1/2 of the top speed of the aircraft should be comfortably flyable.

Thank you, Stephen for sharing your experience.

This type of photography would appeal to me, but living in Ontario, I have two concerns:
1. There is a lot of talk about coming UAV regulations and that if you want to publish or sell your pictures, you'll require a commercial license for your UAV. Are there any exceptions or ways to avoid this requirement?

2. Wind factor. Quite often, I photograph things around the water edge and on many occasions I encounter winds between 20 and 30 km/h, with occasional gusts even stronger.  How does the wind affect the stability and safety of the copter? Do you use your setup only in windless conditions or do you dare to fly it also in windy weather?


 

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wheatcraft
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« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2014, 04:45:44 PM »
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There are lots of ways to annoy people, with or without a UAV. I have been in areas where I have set up on a tripod, and some other photography comes along and sets up right in my shot. I have said, hey, you're in my shot, and he just ignored me. This is not uncommon.

There's nothing that I'd enjoy more than being out in some beautiful, pristine wilderness area, enjoying the sunset, and having a miniature helicopter clattering overhead. Certainly would enhance the experience.

My son lives in San Diego, and a neighbor of his flies one of these things around the neighborhood. Some people in the neighborhood believe he is spying on them. I have no idea whether this is true or not, but I fully expect that some evening this helicopter will be blasted out of the sky with a shotgun. Be a terrible waste of a D-800. To take care of such issues, I would suggest that all UAVs require licenses, and an umbrella insurance policy to cover possible claims of invasion of privacy, damage to property in case of crashes, noise pollution, etc. I think a $20 million policy, payable annually, should be adequate. 
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Bjørn J
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« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2014, 06:48:37 AM »
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The interesting aspect of taking photos from an UAV is that it can fly in lower altitudes than planes normally are allowed to fly. This can give more interesting photos than typical aerial shots from a plane.
I was looking for a flying camera earlier this year, with a limited budget. A large octocopter with a DSLR was too expensive, and the low-cost DJI Phantom 2 has limited payload capacity. I am mainly interested in stills photography, and a GoPro or DJI's own Vision-camera can not deliver the image quality I am looking for. I also wanted a narrower angle of view than the typical "action-cams" give.
Then I stumbled upon a Dutch company , www.dronexpert.nl , they have invented a way to use the Sony RX100 on a Phantom 2. The RX100 is one of best tiny compact cameras, with image quality not very far from a DSLR.  The camera is mounted on a plate stuck between the Phantom's landing gear. A cable is connected to the camera's HDMI-output, and this signal is transmitted to a 5" LCD-monitor attached to the DJI remote controller. This monitor allows me to see what the camera sees, just like LiveView. The camera can be tilted from 0 to 90 degrees with a remote, and of course fire the shutter.
This is a great low-cost solution for a "flying camera", and the image quality is way better than GoPro or such cameras can give.

The third photo here is an aerial panorama - 3 shots stiched in PTGUI. I rotated the Phantom slightly between each shot.
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Bjørn Jørgensen
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« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2014, 07:18:40 AM »
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 Good stuff Bjorn, I'm liking the mount solution for the Sony/Panny cameras. To me it kind of bridges the price points between the consumer and pro level equipment. This may be off topic but my wife and I own and love two Norwegian Elkhounds. These guys have been inseparable since the younger one came to us about 3 years ago (both from a breeder in Nova Scotia). Here's a shot of them sleeping on our living room floor, I give my word that this was totally unposed, luckily my iPhone was nearby.  Smiley

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Bjørn J
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« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2014, 07:30:31 AM »
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Great shot - no doubt they are good friends Smiley
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Bjørn Jørgensen
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« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2014, 08:07:47 AM »
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Bjorn:  Nice shots.  That's what I was talking about.
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Bjørn J
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« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2014, 09:20:45 AM »
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Here are some more photos. Not great photographs, but it shows the quality from the Sony RX100.
The second one is a 100% crop.

The last one shows the RX100 mounted on the Phantom 2.

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Bjørn Jørgensen
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« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2014, 05:20:27 AM »
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Hi Bjørn -
You've managed to get some nice results from that modified Phantom. However, it looks like that mounting is at the expense of a proper gimbal, so there's no way to smooth out movements and vibration? I imagine you need pretty idea flying conditions to use it?

Cheers,
Peter
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Peter Cox Photography
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Bjørn J
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« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2014, 05:57:54 AM »
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True, vibrations can be an issue. Short exposure time is required, and to be safe I take 3-4 exposures of each subject. (I use it only for stills, video is of no interest for me).
The lack of gimbal is probably a weight issue. The RX100 with mount is on the limit on the Phantom's lifting capacity, and it uses a lot of energy to keep it flying - that shows on the battery drain. I get a max of 8-10 minutes flight time.
But flying is no problem, it's completely stable, and it hovers fine. Even in slightly windy conditions (light breeze).

DJI has recently released a firmware upgrade, and one of the things that is improved is stability with heavy loads. Another fix is that the Phantom can now descend with a max. speed of 2 meters/sec. That is important, as too fast descent can cause the dreaded "vortex ring" effect. I experienced that once, but managed to get out of it before it crashed. It has never happened with the new firmware.

Dronexpert.nl does not recommend using the RX100 II as it is 40 grams heavier than the RX100. But it works, I have seen it flying without problems.
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Bjørn Jørgensen
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dreed
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« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2014, 06:11:05 AM »
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There are lots of ways to annoy people, with or without a UAV. I have been in areas where I have set up on a tripod, and some other photography comes along and sets up right in my shot. I have said, hey, you're in my shot, and he just ignored me. This is not uncommon.

The best way to deal with this (that I've found), is to pack up your tripod and start walking around in the middle of their shot, maybe 10' from their camera. Every once in a while stop and make it look like you're going to shoot but then pick up and walk around again.

If they chose the shot because you did then it puts doubt in their mind about the shot and its worthiness because obviously you've decided to change your mind and now can't make it up.
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LesPalenik
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« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2014, 03:30:29 PM »
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Quote
The best way to deal with this (that I've found), is to pack up your tripod and start walking around in the middle of their shot, maybe 10' from their camera. Every once in a while stop and make it look like you're going to shoot but then pick up and walk around again.

Back to the topic - A Practical Drone Application - it would be even more effective to launch your copter and let it hover just in front of the interloper.
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Kevin Gallagher
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« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2014, 04:33:53 PM »
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Back to the topic - A Practical Drone Application - it would be even more effective to launch your copter and let it hover just in front of the interloper.


 Hey that's not a bad idea!! Just leave enough space for safety's sake   Smiley
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