Aerial Photography & Videography

Bosque Bill

Senior Member
Oct 27, 2012
Albuquerque, NM
Not everyone likes drones. I suspect that's because of an experience with one flown by an inconsiderate jerk who either didn't know, or chose to flaunt, both the rules of flying and those of common sense and respect for the space of others. I advocate only legal flight, respectful of others around us and the environment.

In my last couple of blog posts I included photos, panoramas, and videos taken in the air. I post links to my blog (link below in my signature) here on WtW in the Trip Reports section. Wandering Sagebrush wrote: "Bill, I assume you’re using a drone for the 360° panoramas. Can you tell us more about what you’re using, and how it’s done?" As my answer grew and grew, I thought it would be better here in its own post.

I'll put my answer as a reply, leaving this one as an introduction to the topic.

I suggest using this thread to post questions about drones and aerial photography, and to share with others how we have used this new technology to enhance our outdoor experience.
For a couple of years I have been wishing for a better way to convey the beauty and glory of the landscapes through which I travel for my blog readers. See the link in my signature.

Last fall I meet a couple of young men in Colorado using a DJI Mavic Pro to take images (legally) of some ruins in Canyons of the Ancients. Their drone wasn't nearly as noisy and obtrusive as I'd thought they might be, which got me to thinking. I did a little research once home, but it seemed an expensive hobby. However, the seed was planted...

I did a lot of research over the summer and watched many YouTube videos about drones, flying, and reviews on different models and manufacturers. I also spent time learning where it would be legal to fly and the FAA regulations. It's illegal to fly in National Parks, for example, but there were many wonderful places where I would be able to try and capture the full beauty of the landscape, such as BLM lands and national forests (unless otherwise specified). There are maps of No Fly zones and it is the pilot's responsibility to know the rules beforehand. Utah State Parks, for example, do not allow drones March - October.

This fall I bought a Mavic 2 Pro (M2P) on the day it was released. It was more money than I really wanted to spend, but had so much amazing technology built into a small machine I couldn't resist. Essentially a 4K Hasselblad video/still camera on a flying platform. The UAV is very stable in flight and the camera is on a 3-axis mechanical gimbal. The M2P handles all the tricky parts of flying, you just tell it where to go using the controller; if you let go of the sticks it just hovers in one place. It uses GPS and inertial guidance and has collision detection sensors to help keep you out of trouble. See:

The view from the camera is fed back to the controller and is then displayed on your phone or tablet screen in real time. The camera can be set in full auto, shutter or aperture priority, or full manual for photos and videos. You can buy ND filters and polarizers, too.

As to the question about the panoramas: the M2P has some specialized photo modes, such as the 360º and 180º panoramas, and hyperlapse (timelapse with motion.) In these modes you set your parameters, hit go, and the M2P does the rest, including moving the camera, taking the shots, and stitching them together on the fly.

I found the spherical pano by accident. I wanted a standard pano of an amazing red cliff in NM, I flew up to my desired height, but hit the wrong setting. I realized quickly my mistake and retook the scene in 180º, but once home was intrigued by the possibilities. I found a site where I could host my images and they would convert them into a VR-like display.

If you would like to look at some of my spherical panoramas, see:

If you have questions, let me know and I'll try to explain or point you to some of the resources out on the web.
Thank you! I have had bad experiences with people flying drones in places that they shouldn't, but it looks interesting.

I am afraid to bring one home, though... The "Boss of Me" thinks (rightfully so) that I have to many interests as it is.
Thanks Bill, for your introduction to the use of your new drone. I enjoyed viewing your blog and was intrigued by the very shots you discuss above, wondering how you did it, despite the obvious use of a drone.

I used some award points from work to purchase a drone a year or so ago, and haven't used it as much as I thought I would, but do have ambitions to take some arial shots at some point. I have a Yuneek 500 4K that takes great footage, but I have found it is a rather large drone, making it it a big space hog for hauling around. Like yours, it basically flies itself once you get it in the air, so its fun and not too sophisticated.

Anyhow, love that you started this thread, it should be interesting and certain to have much to learn by.


Latest posts

Top Bottom