Photography News Issue 57

Photography News | Issue 57 | photographynews.co.uk

Interview 18

Dronemaster Profile Compact, capable and affordable drones brings great aerial image making is within easy reach of keen photographers. We talk to pro drone user Fergus Kennedy about his work and how you can get involved in this exciting form of imaging

PN: Can you tell PN readers a bit about yourself please? What’s your background and what do you do for a living? FK: I’m a 48-year-old photographer, drone pilot and marine biologist. Being self- employed allows me to mix several careers, which gives me great variety. I trained as a marine biologist and continue to work on ecological surveys for Environmental Impact Assessments, particularly for the oil and gas Industry in the Arabian Gulf. In recent years I’ve been doing more and more photography work, both ground based and up in the air. As a photographer my first love was wildlife and underwater work, but these days I get involved in a wide variety of work including commercial shoots for the likes of Canon, and I also do drone piloting work for TV and other clients, notably for The Great British Bake Off , both for the BBC and now that it’s moved to Channel 4. In recent years I’ve also had to privilege to be on the judging panel for the Outdoor Photographer of the Year contest. PN: Most PN readers are keen photography enthusiasts and many are looking at drones as a way of getting a fresh view or to give their image-making some impetus. What got you into drone photography? FK: I’ve always loved trying unusual or challenging types of photography, starting with underwater, but then I shot a fair bit from small aircraft, paragliders and hot air balloons. So when drones started to appear I was immediately interested. These days it’s a dream come true that you can bung a small drone in the camera bag along with the rest of your kit. PN: What drone kit do you use? FK: I probably have more drones than I really should have (at least that’s what my wife says). They range from the tiny, folding DJI Mavic Air [costs from £769], up to the DJI Matrice 600 [from £5199] which can lift a cinema camera or a large DSLR with a big lens. But for most purposes, the DJI Inspire 2 [from £3059] is a good compromise between size and decent image quality. Depending on which camera you use on the Inspire you can have interchangeable

PN: What kit would you recommend readers buy as their first serious photographic drone? FK: For most people either the DJI Mavic Pro [£899], Mavic Air, or as a step up the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 [£1589] would both be good choices, depending on budget and the importance of portability vs image quality. PN: Is there a code of conduct for amateur drone flyers? For example, is there a minimum distance from people when flying? FK: The exact regulations vary from country to country, but in the UK drone operators should make sure their drone is always at least 50m from people, buildings or roads not under their control and they should avoid exceeding 400ft above ground level. Stay well away from airports – at least 5km. PN: ‘No drone’ signs are appearing at more and more places and the practice is probably going to get more common. Is that a concern for you? FK: It can be annoying when a great flying

lenses, either Micro Four Thirds on the Zenmuse X5S, or the DJI APS-C sized DL mount on the X7 camera. PN: Are drones easy to operate for enthusiasts starting out? FK: These days drones are pretty easy to operate. Most decent drones are GPS stabilized, meaning provided you have a clear view of the sky, if you let go of all the controls they will hover without drifting. To become a safe pilot, you should have at least a rough understanding of how they work. This will help you appreciate their limitations and what actions to take should something unexpected happen mid-flight. PN: What are the main issues with drone image-making? FK: I’d say the main differences between conventional photography and drone photography are that you need more 3D spatial awareness for drone photography and you also need to always be aware of issues such as airspace regulations and the weather, particularly the wind!

To become a safe pilot, you should have at least a rough understanding of how drones work

Images Fergus has extended his wildlife and underwater photography skills into drone piloting, undertaking work for commercial clients and personal projects like this one.

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