The Flying Camera Part 2 - March 2019

I continue to experiment with photography from an aerial platform, an unmanned aerial system or drone, as depicted in one image in this newsletter. Fortress of Solitude is one of the compelling reasons I thought an aerial perceptive would be interesting.

Gunnison National Forest, Colorado, aspen, peak color, aerial, photo

An aerial perspective of an aspen grove at peak color.

The rock and/or soil patterns from the air in badlands country are fascinating to me. Additionally, one really has to use their imagination when viewing an aerial image, as perspective and scale are not readily apparent. Having people have to think about one's art, is quite satisfying. Stay tuned for more images, as I recently returned from a trip that included some very interesting soil patterns

As discussed in my first newsletter in December 2018, the public's view of drones is currently quite varied. Unfortunately, not all find them useful or needed. And there is no doubt some poor flying choices by untrained or uneducated pilots have fostered the resentment toward drones. Yes, there is privacy and ethical concerns that pilots need to be aware of. More on that later. But let's focus on some positives first.
Drones support fire fighting and save livesIn natural and manmade disasters, drones can be used to survey damage, locate stranded and injured victims, and assess ongoing threats without risking the safety of rescue teams and first-responders. Unmanned aerial systems are now used regularly in one of my favorite National Parks, Rocky, to assist rescuers find missing hikers. I've also heard they are used extensively in Grand Canyon NP, to help local stranded or lost visitors. Their ability to navigate close to the ground and in remote areas is a very useful tool. Larger aircraft are also useful for search and rescue, but they don't have the flexibility of a drone. The most recent achievement by drone use was the firefighting efforts in Paris to save the Norte Dame Cathedral. Parisian firefighters borrowed DJI drones from the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Culture to provide reconnaissance and thermal imagery.
They can support law enforcement
Drones can be used to search for lost children, provide surveillance and suspect tracking, assist in accident investigations, and monitor large crowds. Being small and maneuverable, the advantages of using drones in cityscapes is quite apparent.

They can contribute to safe building and structure maintenance and management
Unmanned aerial systems are already being used by utility companies to inspect electrical towers. Considering the difficulty of inspecting the bridges or the top of a skyscraper, drones reduce the costs and risks of survey work. With drones, scaffolding, cranes, or harnesses are not required. Just launch the aircraft to assess the structure's condition remotely. Easy, safe, and efficient.

Yea, the list of the advantages of using drones is growing, but so are other ethical and privacy concerns. Frankly, I would find no compelling reason to fly around people unless it involved documenting a wedding, family gathering, or work related event. In those situations, I would expect I had consent. There are no specific Federal Aviation Administration laws currently in place to protect people’s privacy with drones, but it has increased many state laws privacy protections, especially if a drone is shooting photos or videos. California legislation states, “A person is liable for physical invasion of privacy when the person knowingly enters onto the land or into the airspace above the land ofanother person without permission...in order to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff”. A similar privacy law in Wisconsin makes it illegal to photograph a “nude or partially nude person” using a drone. Whew, now ya know, move to Wisconsin if you want to prance around nude in your backyard! I suspect many, if not all states, will be passing similar legislation. Regardless of laws, the proof of privacy offenses is not going to be easy. And do we really want our law enforcement officers spending their time chasing down knuckleheads who abuse the privilege of flying a drone? Many questions are still are to be answered on drone use. Suffice to say the technology is amazing, but may come at a cost to people's rights and privacy. I still firmly believe every drone operator should be required to take the FAA drone pilot exam as I had to for professional use. It's not an easy test and could potentially weed out those individuals who don't not take take drone flying seriously.

Posted in Photography and tagged drone, aerial.