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Drone Photography

A good place to start would be with the question what are Drones? What are Quadcopters? Both are unmanned aerial vehicles. One could call them miniature versions of a plane and helicopter respectively. The Quadcopter is so named since they have rotors (as seen in the helicopters) and they have four of them hence quadcopters. They are like the vertically placed propellers and the lift is derived from the rotary action, whereas the Drones are more like the fixed wing aircrafts. Though these contraptions were initially largely used by defense establishments in various countries, the civilian applications and use of the UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) is fast rising. Though there are restrictions and control exercised by governments and security establishments in use of UAVs in terms the area one can operate them and at the altitudes one can use them at. Many believe that the drone and the UAVs will soon become a household gizmo, a lot like the mobile phone and with it one foresees drone and UAV photography which is already in vogue, growing leaps and bounds.


Among the more popular civilian applications the UAVs is its use for photography. The technology sure helps one shoot picture and images at places and regions that are not easily accessible or have inherently inhospitable conditions for human beings to operate. It is also being used to access and gain angle and altitudes that are otherwise difficult to obtain. Sporting events, baseball games, skiing expeditions, mountaineering expeditions are few areas where drone and quadcopters are being used to shoot the images. Wildlife enthusiasts have been known to follow migratory paths of birds and animals which otherwise were difficult to do, like in the case of some the whales.


The ground station support is critical to ensure that a photo shoot using UAVs is a success, preparatory work and testing of equipment both the UAV and the Camera is an essential. Some of the challenges faced in the aerial photography using drones are the vibrations and there is significant work being carried out in this area to minimize if not eliminate the vibrations. Another challenge is to get the equipment and setting right in varying conditions of temperature, air density and so on. The ever improving radio control systems and the constantly improving motors are ensuring greater range of control and higher speeds. Most often in photo shoots using drones or quadcopters, there are likely to be two people on the controls – One for the unmanned aircraft the other for the camera.


Though not based on an exhaustive study or definitive verified results, some of the more popular brands used by the photographers of today dabbling in the art of photographing using UAVs are the Phantom 1 and Phantom 2 UAV, the choice is largely driven by the size and stability. They are easily portable and reliable, some of the complimenting accessories though make it costlier seem to be worth the money given the results. The Futaba Radio Control is known to give one double the range of a normal standard radio control units. Another upgrade worth making is the carbon fiber propellers instead of the standard regular plastic propellers which gives the craft a higher speed and far lesser vibrations both critical to photography. Consider using the anti gravity motors instead of the standard motors. The standard motors require maintenance, the anti gravity motors are maintenance free and have a longer life. They give the craft higher speeds and lower power consumption, overall making it a worthwhile upgrade.

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