Aerial Photography refers to images taken from a plane, helicopter or a hot-air balloon, a satellite view, and most recently a drone, also known as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
In such short time, technology has advanced in ways so unimaginable that it allows us to reach places and see things we would never be able to without the right resources. Before the wide-spread use of drones, taking aerial images was an extremely expensive and limited business: one would have to bear the high cost of hiring the helicopter or aircraft and pilot, pay for the fuel and permit, be limited in terms of flight time and locations, and be unable to control fully the flight path, height and angle of the shot.
The most important advantages of drone photography would be the affordability and the control that the photographer has over the image. It is relatively easy for a good photographer, once mastered the control of a drone and obtained the necessary license and permits, to take amazing shots from the air. Today’s drones even have failsafe flight options to safely return to base and land in case the battery runs out or the vehicle gets out of range.
Aerial photography, besides being infamous for its surveillance and monitoring function, is being used for geographical, cartographical, engineering and urban planning purposes to map and develop land areas, as well as to discover archeological sites. It is also being used for monitoring and protecting nature and wildlife, visualizing the effects of global warming and evaluate risks of natural disasters. Aerial photography plays a huge part in agriculture, providing an overview of plantations and giving information about crop growth and possible infestations and environment impacts.
In recent years, it has become more popular for commercial use – to promote travelling, on websites or magazines, filming for movies and advertisements, editorial use for journalism and as well as artistic use to create works of art only visible from certain angles.
For the creative mind, a drone is an excellent tool for countless artistic projects. Besides capturing the beauty of our natural landscapes in photography, one can use its precise GPS features to capture time-lapsed effects, create gigantic-sized art installations, air-borne light shows and even paint with drones.
Watch where you fly!
Despite the many technological wonders of drones, it is of course still a vehicle and can cause physical damage to people, objects and places if any accident should happen.
It is no wonder that countries have started to enforce strict laws and regulations to limit drone photography. It is very important to look up the laws of each country or state and their airspace regulations before embarking on any drone-based projects or undertaking such assignments. Depending on where you are, you might get off with a warning, incur a hefty fine or even get some nasty jail time, even if you are not the drone pilot, as long as you are part of the team on the location.
Above all, safety comes first, so use drones wisely and keep from flying it above crowds, and watch out for those birds that see your drone as a threat!