Over the Rim

Gravity is so limiting isn’t it? It shackles us to the world in ways that just really hamper our creative abilities some times. We all like to say the sky is the limit when it comes to creativity, but unless your ready to take to the skies then the height of your tripod is technically the limit – though, I find myself trying to get lower far more often when it comes to working on a tripod. So, what is a photographer to do when their artistic vision demands more? Enter: the drone. 

I love aerial photography. Whether it is hanging out the window of a little Cessna, or standing behind the controls of a UAS (unmanned aerial system), taking our camera into the air gives a whole new world of opportunities for creating compelling photographs – especially if we are searching for new ways of revealing the beauty of this world to our viewers. I think this really says everything for me when it comes to photographing with drones. Its all about beauty revealed in new and unexpected ways. 

This weekend, I discovered a deep and narrow canyon along Taylor’s Fork running through the Gallatin National Forest in Montana. Walking along the canyon rim, I encountered a beautiful set of falls down below. Of course, I could have hiked down river a ways, and then picked my way up the creek with vertical walls rising up a hundred feet on either side of me.  But my view from above is what intrigued me. I was in love with the patterns, the shapes, the lines, the texture. All of this would be lost if I went and hopped in the water to compose this shot as you would expect any old waterfall. And so, out came the Phantom 4.

You will notice that this is actually a long exposure photograph. My exposure was around 1/10th of a second. With good drone, if the wind is relatively still – which in a canyon means less than 10 mph – you can actually get away with as much as 3 second long exposures! I launched the drone from the canyon rim and slowly, carefully, meticulously, flew her down into the crack in the Earth until I found the composition I was looking for. 

It is a good time to be a photographer. So many tools to allow us to take our creativity into whole new realms. 

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