Just recently, a Star Wars space fighter chase scene fan video shot with drones and 3D models went viral in social media (If you are a Star Wars fan, you’ve probably seen it already). The creators of this video from Corridor Digital mounted various cameras on multiple drones and made them fly across the sky doing twists and turns. “Through the magic of digital effects, they then transposed 3D-printed X-Wing and TIE Fighter cockpits (and in the case of the X-Wing, a back half featuring an R2-D2 action figure for reaction shots!) over that footage,” notes a report on Gizmodo.com.
Aerial Photography: Its Roots and Evolution
Aside from bringing videography to new heights, drone technology has also changed the way people do photography. But before we go there, let’s look back at how aerial photography has progressed over the years. In the 1800s, aerial photos had to be taken on board a hot air balloon. Photographer and balloonist Gaspar Felix Tournachon, also known as Nadar, was the first person documented to have attempted this in 1858.
From the late 1880s up to the early 1900s, people found new ways to take aerial photos in the form of kites, rockets, and in true Noah’s ark fashion, even pigeons. According to the history of aerial photography
in the Professional Aerial Photographers Association (PAPA International)’s website, Julius Neubranner created what was described as a “tiny breast-mounted camera for carrier pigeons” in 1903 which took photos at 30-second intervals with the pigeons in flight. These photos were placed on exhibit in the 1909 Dresden International Photographic Exhibition.
During the World War I, airplanes were used for aerial photography. By 1921, aerial photography became a form of commercial enterprise. Fast forward to the turn of the 21st century, people started looking into drones as a platform in taking aerial photos--and the photography world has never been the same.
Drones: Revolutionizing Photography
This brings us back to the question of how drones have changed the way we do photography today.
For one, it makes taking photos from a bird’s eye view much safer. Gone are the days when you’ll have to risk life and limb as you take photos from a plane or a helicopter. Now, a drone allows you to take aerial shots while you’re on solid ground through remote navigation with a controller. Also, since the drone is small and light, you can easily achieve the perspective you want even in tight spaces. This has been game-changing for enthusiasts and professionals who are into macro photography and wedding photography. Notice how difficult it is to get all the shots that you want in an indoor venue with your bulky camera equipment? You no longer have to deal with that problem when you use a drone.
Since you can do a lot more with a drone camera setup, you can afford to be more adventurous with planning your shots, too. For a breathtaking cityscape for instance, you may aim to bring your machine a little higher so that you can shoot from an angle and altitude that’s impossible with a regular camera. Depending on your drone’s model, you may also rotate or adjust the position of the camera for a fresher take when shooting certain locations and objects. You can be as creative as you want with drone technology at play.
But before you go all out, there is one thing that you have to be mindful of--and that is the law. Currently, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) requires all drone owners to register their aircraft
. Failure to comply will result in a fine of up to $250,000. If you are planning to earn from the photos you take with your drone, you must also get FAA’s permission that expressly states that you are allowed to do so. You must also earn your drone pilot’s license to fly your drone, too, as this proves to the FAA that you can operate the drone without bringing harm to yourself, others, and the location you’ll launch and shoot your drone in.
However, if you’re just pursuing drone photography as a hobby, you may proceed even without a license as long as you follow the FAA safety guidelines for recreational users
such as avoiding drone use near airports, unprotected persons, and extreme weather.
Lastly, whether you are using the drone professionally or as a hobby, you must consult the local ordinances, statutes, and laws of the city or state you are in, as each one has its own rules on drone use.
From the painstaking aerial shoots from a parachute to the convenience and flexibility of drone photography, drone technology has carved its own niche in the photography world, producing images from unique and wide variety of angles and offering a different experience to users.
Liz Pekler is a travel photographer with almost 10 years of experience in the field. When she is not out exploring the world, she likes to share her knowledge about photography and travel through writing for blogs.
Title graphic Image Source: Pixabay
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