Flying Under the Midnight Sun – High Arctic drone operations

“This is a crevasse minefield!” yelled Louise. In flat light I was skiing in front, trying to pick the safest way forward. Bumps of blue glacier ice were all around me. My ski tails would settle, leaving behind holes of blackness. Louise moved left to avoid one of my holes. Dave also stepped left into untracked snow. A yell from Dave warned us that he was falling into a crevasse. Louise and I threw ourselves to the snow, bracing for the jerk on the rope. I looked over my shoulder to see Dave windmilling his ski poles but still visible—then he was out of sight, with just the baskets poking out of the crevasse. Then, in horror, I saw the baskets disappear and the 150-pound sled slowly get sucked into the crevasse on top of him. I called back to Dave. No answer. Now the weight, equivalent to two bodies, was pulling on Louise.

The red area is the Nunavut Territory, Canada. Ellesmere Island is the large red northernmost island in red.

Six days earlier, in late May, our three-person team of Dave Critchley (Chair of Biological Sciences, School of Applied Sciences, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology), Louise Jarry and I had been heading by chartered Twin Otter ski plane from Resolute Bay at Cornwallis Island in Nunavut, Canada to the Prince of Wales Icefield on Canada’s Ellesmere Island’s southeast coast. Winter cold had broken about a week before, giving us weather that was 20 degrees Fahrenheit, which was warmer than the norm. Our starting temperatures were more like what was expected at the end of a month-long Arctic ski tour. The two-plus hour plane flight treated us to some amazing views: jagged coastal cliffs of Devon Island’s Colin Archer Peninsula, followed by the inky blue open waters of Hell Gate Polynya, and then the frosting top of Sydkap Ice Cap, where we had skied across two years before.

Our expedition, Ivory Gulls and Nunataks—Ellesmere 2019, would ski through a portion of the Prince of Wales Icefield checking for activity at ivory gull nesting sites last surveyed in 2009. The word nunatak is from the Greenlandic Inuit, meaning rock outcrops or peaks surrounded by glaciers. The population of the ivory gull in Northern Canada has dramatically declined in the last several decades, and many nesting colony sites farther south, in the Manson Icefield, had already been abandoned by 2009. We decided to focus our survey efforts at the sites that last supported nesting birds. All previous nesting surveys had been done by helicopter. We would ski site to site and use a spotting scope and drone to check for birds and count them.

Our expedition was in search of nesting sites of Ivory Gulls.

During our expedition planning, we corresponded with numerous High Arctic researchers and videographers and asked them about their drone flying experiences and equipment recommendations. Alarmingly, everyone who had attempted drone flights north of 70 degrees latitude had horror stories. Some common themes emerged: out-of-control drones spiraling around pilots, or flyaway drones that were never seen again. These issues were often with early generation DJI Phantoms.

According to the experienced operators, the root of these problem flights revolved around lack of strong GPS signal and compass errors. The phenomenon is nicknamed the “toilet bowl effect” for the swirling drone motion as your dollars are flushed away. My experience with GPS signals in the High Arctic has been completely different, at least from a ground navigation point of view. For example, there are always more and stronger satellite signals in the North compared to the Canadian Rockies.

The ALLPOWERS 80-watt folding panel charging away during a snow storm.

THE GEAR

We decided to bring two DJI Mavic 2s, a Zoom and a Pro model. Going that far north with only one drone seemed too risky. If one crashed, then at least we could use the same batteries in the second. A local DJI retailer, MultirotorHeli of Calgary, Alberta, did not think we would have problems flying up North—easy for him to say.

The Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom user’s manual has a number of statements that certainly did not boost our confidence; “The Mavic 2 cannot use GPS within polar regions. Use the Downward Vision System (DVS) when flying in such locations.” OK, we read up on DVS in the manual, and again, the news was not rosy: “The DVS may NOT function properly when the aircraft is flying over water or snow-covered areas.” Our entire trip would be on glaciers that were completely snow covered. The manual further stated, “Operate the aircraft cautiously when in any of the following situations: flying over monochrome surfaces (e.g., pure white), highly reflective surfaces, surfaces that strongly reflect or absorb infrared waves, or surfaces without clear patterns or textures.” Just about all of those surface descriptors equal a snowy glacier.

Along the way, we were given advice that flying in attitude mode (ATTI) would circumvent the need for compass or GPS inputs. Mavic 2 does not have a mode switch like the Phantom 4 that allows it to shift into ATTI. In consulting user groups, such as mavicpilots.com, it seemed that sport or tripod mode could be remapped using DJI Assistant 1.1.2 to become ATTI (in developer tools). Despite numerous attempts to follow instructions given by followers of the user group, the mapping protocol would not work for us. We even tried covering the aircraft top in foil in the hope that we could block GPS signals and force it into ATTI, but had no luck.

We prepared ourselves for the scenario that our drones would be totally useless, like paperweights being dragged around behind us for a month.

The 12-volt storage battery is inside the box with a voltage regulator on the outside. It weighs 2 kg.

BITTER COLD

The next major hurdle was cold weather operation. During trials in subzero temperatures in Alberta we quickly discovered that our phones were the weakest link. Their thinness and small batteries made for quick heat loss and shutdown. On our first or second flights ever, we learned that if a phone dies after takeoff, you can still control and operate the drone using line of sight along with the controller LCD display. An old, weak cell phone battery is worth replacing for cold weather flying. We bought reusable gel heat packs and built a tablet-sized plywood holder to sandwich the phone and heat pack, and used a PGYTECH Sunshade.

Taking off from the Wykeham Glacier.

A critical selling point for us with the Mavic 2 is the fact that the Mavic Enterprise self-heating batteries can be used on the Pro/Zoom models as well. Used on a non-Enterprise model, the self-heating batteries can only be used by manually starting the heating function. Luckily, we had five batteries between the two drones, since two of the Enterprise batteries developed bent contacts after only one use, which prevented us from using them again. (The drone and charger contacts were in perfect shape, so how the recessed battery contacts were bent is still a mystery.)

One final showstopping logistic to be worked out was how to reliably charge drone batteries and the controllers. Using our experience from previous Arctic ski trips, we knew that a well-tested system of a small solar panel with storage battery could charge satellite phones, DSLR, InReach, and cell phone batteries. The DJI Mavic2 intelligent batteries proved to be much trickier. First, they are higher voltage and amperage than any previously used battery products. Second, the acceptable charging range using the DJI 12-volt car charger is very narrow.

A PGY Tech sun shade was very useful for strong low angle sun.

Dave sought advice from his school’s Alternative Energy Technology program. They suggested we use an ALLPOWERS folding 80-watt solar panel (1.8 kg, 110 x 60 cm open; 35 x 19 x 9.5 cm folded). With 24-hour sun during our expedition, batteries could be charging all night while we slept, or we could open out the solar panel on a sled as we pulled it by day. Field testing revealed the DJI intelligent battery charges in a very narrow range. If the sun angle and or intensity changes too high or too low, the charger shuts off. The only way to practically overcome that charger sensitivity was to place a storage battery between the solar panel and the 12-volt auto charger. The panel charges the storage battery in an unregulated way, as sun angle and cloud density change all day and night. Then, using a regulator attached to the storage battery (2 kg total weight, with 2.9 Ah lead acid), we could output precise voltage to the 12-volt auto charger and the intelligent battery.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS

Upon arrival in Resolute Bay, Nunavut Territory, Canada (latitude 74 degrees North), we conducted several brief flights. If things went sideways here, there would be little need to take our paperweights on a ski tour for a month. The DJI user manual states to calibrate the compass if flying at a location farther than 50 kilometers away from the location the drone was last flown. Working by the philosophy, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” we had not calibrated them in southern Canada, so these two drones had a factory calibration in China, which was 8,000 kilometers away and 42 degrees of latitude change north. Nevertheless, our test flight performance was flawless. The Mavic 2s operated perfectly and we had a green light for operating farther north.

After several days of waiting for suitable flying weather, we made our two-plus hour charter flight. The remoteness of our trip sank in as we flew. During the entire flight we never once crossed a road or passed over a village or permanent habitation. Our intended ski plane landing site was riddled with crevasses, so the pilots nixed the area. Our alternate spot was 12 kilometers away in a gentle bowl of powder snow. Landing uphill in powder, it didn’t take much distance to stop the plane.

Over the next week, we skied our way across a major unnamed glacier. During the summer, the meltwater flowing on the surface of the glaciers carve canyons into the ice, creating whitewater torrents that are impossible to cross. Some in this area are 50 kilometers long! For us, during spring, the canyons are still significant barriers. They can be 20 to 30 meters across and 10 to 15 meters deep, with overhanging snow drifts along their lips. As we skied up to our first canyon the question was whether to turn left or right to find a snow bridge, or to ramp in and out. Although the drones were brought for seabird detection, we wasted no time launching them for recon missions to help us know which way to cross the canyons. Many hours were quickly saved by knowing the correct path to ski across the canyons.

Roped up glacier travel, above left skier (Louise) near the pass is where we were dropped off by the ski plane.

Crevasse icefall on the upper south branch of the Trinity Glacier. This terrain is way too dangerous to attempt pulling a sled.

Goggles with facemask attached to prevent frostbite from wind chill.

View of typical campsite arrangement, note the solar panel on top of left tent.

Dave surveying mountain for sign of ivory gull nest site on our first evening.

Dave and Louise ski back to camp after climbing our first mountain.

CREVASSE FALL

A week into the ski trip, we descended to Wykeham Glacier. Immediately, we could see the character of this glacier was different than previous ones we had been moving across. Crevasses were evident everywhere, both obvious open cracks as well as slight shallow depressions, indicating sagging snow bridges over blackness. Crevasses form when glacial ice cannot bend more, resulting in breaks that extend down tens of meters or more. Think of it like a cold Mars or Snickers candy bar: At first you can bend the bar and the layer of chocolate on top stays intact, but at a certain point the chocolate coating cracks open to expose the inner layers. If all crevasses stayed open, it would be harder to accidentally fall into one, but drifting snow and ice closures continually cover the slots and form hidden trap doors that might collapse with the weight of skis or boots.

Dave was rescued from the crevasse unharmed, although he just barely dodged the 150-pound sled landing on top of him. Ice screws, rope, pulley work, and a couple hours of sweat were needed to get him and the gear out of the hole. The ALLPOWERS solar panel had been strapped to the top of the sled that day. Hauling the loaded sled out of the crevasse was the hardest work. There was no way to pull it out on its bottom-sliding surface; it came out upside-down over the ice on the solar panel. We fully expected the solar panel to be trashed, and therefore there would be no more drone flights once batteries were exhausted. However, despite this very rough treatment, the solar panel was still working!

Drone view looking down the Wykeham Glacier, camp near bottom right corner, meltwater canyons are the long furrows.

Dave looking out of the crevasse he fell into and happy to be out of his hole.

First drone flight on Ellesmere Island. Next to Dave are the ski tracks where the plane landed and took off.

Selfie using Olympus TG5 waterproof camera duct taped to ski pole looking up a seal hole.

Using the parka hood helps create shade in bright conditions.

Drone view over southern branch of the Trinity Glacier.

Pilot Kenn Borek’s Twin Otter on skis taxies up the glacier dome to pick up our team.

HEADING HOME

The crevasse fall was a serious wakeup call to us: we needed to very carefully select the safest route on the glacier to avoid as many of the crevasses as possible. We developed a routine. After setting up camp and finishing supper, we’d launch several drone flights to scout the next day’s potential routes. Flights to four previously documented ivory gull nesting sites did not find any activity. Our drone recon missions revealed a direct path to additional sites two days away; they were peppered with hundreds of visible crevasses. Never mind the many more hidden ones. A one-week detour west across and over a gentle icecap was the only way forward.

By the beginning of June, our nearly flawless weather began to break down. We spent three days in camp playing cribbage while 25 centimeters of fresh snow buried all signs of previous sagging bridges. An InReach forecast predicted June 6 would be the only clear day for the next five to seven days. We had to schedule that day for a ski plane pickup or risk missing our scheduled commercial flights south.

The Twin Otter ski-equipped plane circled a couple of times, then descended into the glacial basin to our north, out of sight. Silence followed. After what seemed an eternity we heard the engines revving, then silence, then more revving. Just as we were about ready to launch a drone to investigate, a shark fin appeared from down slope. The tail rudder materialized as the plane climbed its way up the glacier while plowing through deep snow. The plane had landed on the closest sun-lit patch of glacier and had been taxiing many kilometers on its skis, weaving around crevasses to make its way uphill to our camp.

We didn’t see a single ivory gull, so the search for their known nesting sites was a complete bust. However, the utility of small, foldable quadcopters for photography, ski route selection, and terrain hazard assessment in the Arctic proved a huge success. Although the Mavic 2 worked without a hitch for us to latitude 78 degrees, and to 82 degrees North for another pilot in 2019, a cautionary note should be made: There are large ore bodies in the North that will leave compasses spinning. When you’re flying in such an area, all bets are off. Be prepared and able to fly in ATTI mode.

The Ivory Gulls and Nunataks 2019 team, Dave, Greg, and Louise, with the Twin Otter plane.

Drone view of an unnamed peak on the left we skied to the top of.


DIY Arctic Phone Holder

Start with a wood frame with elastic straps.

Add a heat pack.

Insert a thin foam protector.

Secure your phone in place.

A sunshade makes it easier to see your phone’s display.


7 Tips for Flying in the Cold & Snow

ONE
Read Your aircraft’s users manual. Be familiar with the manufacturer’s specifications with regard to the operating temperature range. This includes range of the controller and batteries. Know the charging temperature range of your batteries. Batteries that are too cold will not charge correctly or may be damaged. Make short test flights in cold weather until you gain understanding of how your aircraft and associated devices handle the cold.

TWO
Keep Batteries Warm. Before use, keep aircraft, controller, and phone and tablet batteries warm. If you are out in the field for hours or all day, keep components with batteries near your body or use a heat source to maintain batteries at room temperature. A fly fisherman’s vest with lots of big pockets can keep items organized under insulation layers. If that’s too bulky or awkward, try an insulated soft-sided lunch cooler bag with hot water in plastic bottles. (I suggest Nalgene brand, which can handle hot to boiling water.) Place those bottles in a sock or mitten when you first start to use them to ensure that a very hot bottle does not directly touch batteries or plastics.

THREE
Keep the Aircraft Cool. To prevent condensation or frost forming on your lens and sensors, don’t move the aircraft back and forth from warm to cold to warm. After the aircraft leaves home, your car, or warming bag, keep it in the cold until your flying is done for the day.

FOUR
Be Gentle with All Equipment. In order to shave weight and cut costs, much of drone equipment is made of plastic. The colder it gets, the more fragile everything becomes. Many components were never designed to be used below freezing. Go slowly and warm parts before flexing or bending.

FIVE
Use a Landing Pad. Collapsible pads are not just for dust and vegetation. Unless you are landing on bare ice, use pads to prevent snow from spraying on the lens, or the aircraft from bellying out in soft snow. Some aircraft use takeoff features to help with precise landing, and a distinct “H” will be much easier to find than acres of featureless white.

SIX
Use Neutral Density Filters. For smooth video display, a frame rate of 24 to 30 per second is common. The shutter speed should generally be twice the frame rate. In bright snow conditions using a camera with a fixed aperture, neutral density filters are an excellent way to slow down the shutter speed and reduce glare. Experiment with different densities before critical shoots and remember that time of day will change the density you need. A range of 4 to 32 (times reduction in light) will cover most situations outside of time-lapse shots.

SEVEN
Shade the Screen. It isn’t fun to squint and barely be able to see anything on the phone or tablet screen on a bright day in a snowscape. There are many devices on the market to help reduce glare and provide shade to your screen. The other options are monitor devices like DJI’s Crystal Sky or Smart Controller that have screen brightness higher than most phones or tablets. The other significant advantage of those devices is the large milliamp battery they use with low operating temperatures that uninsulated phones or tablets can.

By Greg Horne Photos by Greg Horne, Louise Jarry & Dave Critchley

The post Flying Under the Midnight Sun – High Arctic drone operations appeared first on RotorDrone.

SOURCE: RotorDrone – Read entire story here.

Amazing Aerials: Pro photography advice from the world’s best

Aerial photos and videos produced using drones has developed into a major industry. There are literally thousands of enthusiasts snapping digital images with their drone hoping to turn their exciting pastime into a money making proposition. The cameras and equipment available today are top shelf and image quality is constantly improving. So what does it take to really bring your aerial imaging skills to the next level?

We reached out to six world class aerial photographers and videographers and asked them their top tips and suggestions for capturing breathtaking images. Here is what they had to say.

Paul Prescott

(Croatia)

BIO

From Croatia, Paul is the founder of Amazing Aerial Agency. He spends his summer months along the Adriatic, where he captures the landscapes of the Balkans.

INSIGHT

As in photography in general, it takes an eye to get a great photo. Look for patterns, shapes, and lines. Trying to align these in a symmetrical way will make your image pleasant to look at. I always try to get as close to my subject matter as possible. This avoids stressing battery life. It also allows me to fly without using the FPV screen and maintain visual contact with my drone, which is useful while flying close to the subject matter.

TIPS

For regular photography it is best to have the sun at your back. Midday sun can be unattractive. However, when flying a drone, having the sun at the apex can give you the best colors. Of course, try to avoid getting sun reflections and burned out highlights in water when shooting toward the sun. Polarized lenses can help here. Also, shooting just after sunset provides amazing soft and warm light. It is good to be in the air just as the sun hits the horizon to capture this fleeting lighting condition.

Aerial view of an attractive woman sunbathing on red sand beach, Hawaii, U.S.A.

Favorite Equipment: I sometimes use filters, but I think that some polarized filters can be too extreme on the skies, creating a strong blue halo. I have only flown with DJI Phantoms. I bring four batteries and two chargers. This allows me to fly for at least 90 minutes at one location, and as I am flying using my last battery pack, I will be charging the first ones. I bring about six SD cards. I change my cards for each flight.

Arranging Shoots: I recommend doing scouting flights to get an overview of what is around you. Once you know all the possibilities, you can do a few flights to get more material. Some people shoot either only photos or only videos on a single flight. I try to get the best out of my flight by recording video as soon as I take off and get to the location I scouted. Once there, I take a mix of top-down, landscape, and panoramas. Once I have done my mix, I can start recording again while flying to another location. This means I get a mix of all kinds of media and end up with a lot more stock material. Using Google Maps is a great resource to scout locations in advance.

Composition: Getting people in your shots will give your photos perspective and scale. It will also enhance “sellability” as people photos sell well. Try using your drone like a regular camera, just a few meters off the ground to get photos of people. I try to put people in formation to create portraits. Avoid distractions in your photos; either zoom in to avoid something or zoom out to include it completely in your shot. Also try rotating your drone, this can cut out unwanted subjects in your photo. When shooting video, try shooting without constantly moving the head of your drone. Try using your drone more like a crane and less like a plane. Getting closer to subjects can make footage more cinematic.

Aerial view of extended family at garden table for lunch.

Aerial view of a group of people doing yoga on a terrace surrounded by trees in town

Aerial view of boats anchored at the bay of Stari Grad, Croatia.


George Daskalopoulos

(Greece)

BIO

George spends his summer months sailing around the Greek islands shooting aesthetic landscapes and putting people in eye-catching compositions.

INSIGHT

Drones help us see the world with another eye, something that may seem dull when on your feet, might be something amazing when flying. So get your drone up in the sky and explore. Always look what other people do and get inspired; don’t be afraid to copy and add your own style. Watch movies, commercials, read magazines, go to exhibitions, and watch YouTube.

TIPS

I like using neutral-density/polarization (ND/PL) PolarPro Filters. PL filters are especially handy when shooting top-down photos and videos of water so that you can avoid those nasty reflections and make the water crystal clear. Shooting video, the ND filter helps maintain the shutter speed on the rule of thirds, so that you can have that cinematic look and feel while shooting in broad daylight. Note that there are times that filters have a negative effect on the image, e.g., low light situations. Experiment to see what works best for the specific subject.

Favorite Equipment: This depends on the situation. If I want to travel and be mobile without having to carry a lot, prefer the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. It is an excellent choice and the balance between mobility and image quality is great. If I want to shoot a commercial, I always go with the Inspire 2 because most of the time transporting it is not a big deal, and I think that image quality in commercials is the first thing to consider.

When I travel I go with the F-Stop Ajna backpack. It’s huge and fits everything. It carries my DJI Mavic 2 Pro with ND filters, three batteries, a DJI Ronin S, a Sony A7III with Sigma Art lenses, (14mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4, 18-35 1.8), a Sony 70-200 2.8 GMaster, and a Canon 100mm 2.8 macro. All the above except the Sony 70-200 are Canon EF mounts so that I can use them with my BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K when I do commercial work.

Arranging Shoots: First of all, create for yourself. Try to be the best at it and have a look at what the industry is in need of. Do free work to get yourself into the industry and if you are good, people will come to you and ask for a paid gig. When they do, try to keep them as longtime partners.

Always suggest new stuff. Don’t be afraid to “cold call”—it’s one of the best ways of advertising. For example, if you go on vacation on an island, plan ahead and email 10 hotels or Airbnbs and offer them your services. Even if only one of them replies positively, it’s a success. You can also try to exchange services for accommodations. This will give you the needed experience so that you can climb in the industry.

Composition: Think before you takeoff. Plan what you want to achieve so that you save that precious battery power. Always look for lines that compliment the subject. Plan ahead the time of the shoot regarding the light, I prefer early in the morning or late in the afternoon since the light is so soft at that time of the day. Be creative, add something to the composition, and don’t just wait for it to happen. Symmetry is god, especially in top-down photos. Try to create symmetry in your composition.

Aerial concept of a player on basketball court.

NIKITAS, GREECE – 13 JULY 2018: Aerial view of people under colourful parasols and bathers in turquoise sea.

Panoramic aerial view over the clouds and bay of Santorini island, Greece.


Gunj Guglani

(India)

BIO

A freelance aerial photographer and a film-maker from New Delhi, India, Gunj loves to travel and explore new cultures and landscapes. His hobbies include chasing sunrise, hiking, surfing, and capturing visuals with his drone in perspectives that usually can’t be achieved with human eyes.

INSIGHT

The best time to achieve the best dynamic range and lighting in your photos is during sunrise and sunset, but don’t be afraid to try different lighting conditions. Some lighting will favor different subjects. I usually just use a variable ND filter as it helps me maintain the required shutter speed to get the best cinematic footage while shooting in daylight.

TIP

Remember to create more for yourself, be curious and daring to experiment, and always fly safe.

Favorite Equipment: So far I have used DJI and custom made race drones, and it’s really hard to choose an overall favorite as both of them have a very different use. But while filming stock footage and creating commercial content, I think I would choose DJI Mavic 2 Pro as my fav, as it has omni-directional sensors and a lot of automatic features like taking Hyperlapses, which makes the work flow so efficient and easy. I get that sense of security and trust in technology to fly it miles away. My best equipment is a Sony A7III with 16-35 and 24-70mm lens, and a DJI Ronin S (or any gimbal of choice), a GoPro Hero 7 Black, and a DJI Mavic 2 Pro with neutral density (ND) filters.

Arranging Shoots: You will always get work when can show examples of what you are capable of. So maintain your presence and show your work on all social platforms so others can discover you. Reach out to major brands through email, to pitch your ideas that you think could help them in any way.

Composition: There are no definite rules for capturing the best results in every situation. But, always know your shot before capturing it. Avoid negative space, or anything that doesn’t serve the subject or mood. Look for patterns, symmetry, leading lines, etc. Don’t be shy to experiment (just because you are using a drone, doesn’t mean you can’t go low!).

DELHI, INDIA – 5 JUNE 2019: Aerial view of devotees at prayer during Eid al-Fitr at Jama Masjid mosque. Eid al-Fitr is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims that marks the end of Ramadan.

Aerial view of multicolored Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Aerial view of New Delhi public transport system crossing neighborhood, India.

Aerial long view of devotees at the Jama Masjid mosque.


Charles Martinez

(Chicago)

BIO

Charles was born in Panama City, Panama, and at 18 years old he moved to the U.S. Known as “deftony83” on Instagram, Tony’s handle is a tribute to his favorite band, The Deftones. He is also the founder of several Instagram communities like @art.of.chi, @drone.globe, and @ig.portraits. Charles has been serving in the U.S. Air Force for 14 years and currently as a civil engineer.

INSIGHT

I like to shoot at sunrise and sunset. Foggy days are also amazing for some dramatic shots. Never be afraid to experiment new things to keep things fresh.

TIP

I have been using a circular polarized linear (CPL) filter only since using the Mavic 2 Pro. This allows some amazing aperture and ISO settings that I can use to my advantage.

Favorite Equipment: My favorite drone is the DJI Mavic 2 Pro because of the portability and the automatic features it provides not to mention the high quality that provides for photography with 20 megapixels at my disposal.

Arranging Shoots: I first to go to Google Satellite to scout the location. Then I look for unique angles that I can shoot at these locations. Then I plan the time of day for the best light.

Composition: My best tip for composition is lighting. Always look for the best conditions to shoot in. I avoid bright days because the harsh light, unless I am looking for shadows and what to do with them. I look for top-down shots because it brings uniqueness to many images.

Aerial view of man standing in front of Drangarnir rock formation, Faroe island.

Aerial view of frozen Chicago River crossing business center, USA.

Aerial view of public basketball at public park, Chicago, USA.


Bachir Moukarzel

(Dubai)

BIO

Bachir Moukarzel was born and raised in Lebanon, then moved to Dubai at a young age where he is currently working. His love for photography started when he began using an action camera but grew with his discovery of drone technology. In 2002, there was nothing but sand in Dubai and over time, it became urbanized. Bachir’s photos capture the symbolic progress of the city.

INSIGHT

Weather and time of day considerations depending on the location. I always check the sun directions to plan my shadows in the shot, another thing to consider is the cloud forecast to avoid flat images

TIP

I use neutral density (ND) filters and polarizer filters depending on the situation. They help me control the shutter speed and avoid glare and water reflections.

Favorite equipment: My favorite drone for traveling is Mavic 2 Pro. It’s easy to carry and great quality. For daily usage I like the Inspire 2 with the X7 camera. My basic travel pack/equipment is a laptop and SSD drive.

Arranging Shoots: I do a lot of research on Google Maps to find interesting spots. When I travel, I also check the light direction and the cloud forecast to plan my shoot and avoid weather surprises.

Composition: I work a lot on symmetries and leading lines while shooting aerials. I try to avoid distractions in the image as much as I can.

Aerial view of a building surrounded by clouds, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Aerial view of tourists swimming with whale sharks, Oslob, Philippines.

Aerial view above of wooden pier crossing Jubail Mangrove Park in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.


Jude Newkirk

(Alaska)

BIO

A terminal manager for the largest fishing port in the U.S., Jude is passionate about travel and spend half of the year exploring as much as he can. Aerial photography has become his obsession and it has completely changed the way he sees and appreciates the world. His work mostly includes landscapes, wildlife and abstract images, but Jude really just loves to shoot anything from above. He has also been working on Music Videos for artists he has connected with.

INSIGHT

I use a WandRD backpack to carry all my gear and find that it works great while keeping a sleek design. It doesn’t feel or look too bulky.

TIP

I always try to shoot right after sunrise or right before sunset to really get that perfect golden light as it really brings the photos to life. It doesn’t always work out with time constraints.

Favorite equipment: My favorite drone for traveling is Mavic 2 Pro. It’s easy to carry and great quality. For daily usage I like the Inspire 2 with the X7 camera. My basic travel pack/equipment is a laptop and SSD drive.

Arranging Shoots: I do a lot of research on Google Maps to find interesting spots. When I travel, I also check the light direction and the cloud forecast to plan my shoot and avoid weather surprises.

Composition: I work a lot on symmetries and leading lines while shooting aerials. I try to avoid distractions in the image as much as I can.

Aerial view of a woman in the water in Terme di Saturnia, Province of Grosseto, Italy

Aerial view of a man swimming with the Whale sharks on Mafia Island, Tanzania.

Aerial view of Falaise d’Aval on the shore of Normandy during the sunset, Etretat, France.

Aerial view of people swimming with sharks and sting rays in Moorea Island in French Polynesia.


The Amazing Aerial Agency

The biggest hurdle in becoming a recognized aerial photographer is exposure. Media companies can’t buy your product, if they don’t know that it’s available. You can only go just so far with Facebook. One way to gain exposure is with a team specifically tailored for mass media, and that’s exactly what Amazing Aerial Agency is all about.

Amazing Aerial Agency is an “aerial only” photography and video agency, with one of the world’s largest and most beautiful aerial photography collections. The images are shot by award-winning photographers from all over the world. Currently there are over 15,000 photos and 5,000 videos in the collection. Many of the images are shot from perspectives rarely seen before, and highlight abstractions of the earth and oceans, people and wildlife.

We reached out to Paul Prescott, founder of Amazing Aerial Agency, to learn more.

Who would be most interested in your agency?
Semi pro/pro and aerial visual artists would be our main benefactors. Many of our photographers have won awards for their aerial photography.

How did you come to start your company?
We started over two years ago, wanting to bring the world’s best aerial photographers into one place so they can make money from their work. We started with a handful of aerial photographers, and it grew organically to a team of 25. In the last few months we have grown to about 70.

We’ve built an international distribution network including 16 of the best premium agencies in Europe, Asia and in the Americas. So our photos sell for hundreds of dollars (instead of just pennies as with other agencies). Our clients are mostly magazines, media companies, and enterprises with larger spending budgets.

What advantages are there in joining your team?
This really is an opportunity to make a living as a photographer selling photos and videos. We have a standard contract that all our exclusive photographers sign, it is a 50/50 partnership. We handpick our team members for the quality and consistency of their work.

We’re not looking to have thousands of photographers, but rather, have a great variety of talented photographers from all corners of the planet. For more information about joining the Agency, go to: amazingaerial.agency/p/contributor.

Our exclusive contract allows you to sell your photos directly to clients, to post all your photos on social media and your personal website. We are just an extra source of revenue. This also means you cannot sell your photos anywhere else for less (microstock), nor in our network. Many of the agency partners are “invite only,” so you get exclusive access to professional photo buyers from around the world that you would not normally have access to. You’ll be a part of an exclusive team, where you will learn a lot in our community.

Are there any other benefits?
We have an extensive worldwide network of distributing agents and clients. We only work with the top premium agencies in the world, currently 15 agencies from North America, Europe and Asia. Plus you get direct support from our headquarters. We also provide education to our team members with tutorials, but also with feedback on their editing, etc. We are constantly creating more educational videos on how to prepare photos and videos for sale. Team members also get the opportunity to shoot commissioned work for clients.

By Team RotorDrone Pro

The post Amazing Aerials: Pro photography advice from the world’s best appeared first on RotorDrone.

SOURCE: RotorDrone – Read entire story here.