BUT FOR A DRONE

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BY ERIC HANSCOM

  

But for a drone, some photos were taken.

But for some photos, a Dronestagram account was created.

But for a Dronestagram account, a top pilot interview was given.

But for an interview, a speaking opportunity in England was offered.

But for a speaking opportunity, a side trip to Dover to fly drones was planned.

But for the side trip, a lengthy hike along the White Cliffs of Dover was organized.

But for the length of the hike, extra batteries were taken.

But for the extra batteries, a backpack was heavy.

But for a heavy backpack, a shoulder muscle was strained.

But for a strained shoulder muscle, a typing posture was changed upon return to the US.

But for a changed typing posture, carpal tunnel syndrome was caused.

But for carpal tunnel syndrome, an exercise routine was changed.

But for a change in exercise routine, a back muscle was strained.

But for a muscle strain, a back was examined.

But for the examination, a strangely shaped mole was spotted.

But for the mole, a dermatologist was consulted.

But for the dermatologist, a biopsy was performed.

But for the biopsy, a skin cancer was diagnosed.

But for the diagnosis, a skin cancer was removed.

But for the removal, a dronist is now cancer free.

But for a drone.

DRONE EXPERTS

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conflicting messages

 One of the most rewarding experiences for a drone photographer is to get his or her work recognized. Being an artist with a paintbrush, guitar or movie camera requires the artist to put work for general artistic critique, and whether the reviewers are qualified or not to render an meaningful opinion, the feedback you receive on your art to a certain extent defines you as an artist. The same is true for artists who fly drones to create their works of art.

 

One thing that separates drone artists from painters, photographers and musical composers is that we have to create our art under a fairly rigorous set of laws and regulations – in short, the possible canvases upon which we can create our masterpieces are limited by rules such as how high we can fly, how close to airports we can fly, whether we can fly over groups of people, whether we can fly in national parks, etc. On the surface this should create a limited, but fair playing field, since all drone photographers have to live under the same set of rules, right? Well, not exactly, because some drone photographers flagrantly violate the rules – and as opposed to being banished from the profession, fined, or sent to jail (all of which are allowed under the laws they treat like toilet paper), they are rewarded by an eager media machine that cares more about the spectacularness of the shot than whether it was taken legally.

This media machine rather than working with the governing bodies and law-abiding dronists actually encourages illegal droning through its turning a blind eye to the legality of the shot. Examples of this abound in our industry, and cause me to believe that unless we do a better job of regulating ourselves, the FAA and its foreign counterparts may regulate us out of business. For example, I have seen a number of drone photography contests where a substantial percentage of the “winning” photographs were clearly taken illegally. Shots within 5 miles of airports, shots over crowds of people, shots in national parks. 

The technology to assess whether a shot was legal or not already exists: when I submit a picture to any of the major drone photography websites my pictures are automatically geolocated onto a map, upon which the B4UFly or another map program showing where legal and illegal space can be easily seen. For any photographs submitted from within a banned area, the photographer should have to show proof of permission to fly in that are or the photo would be automatically disqualified.  Pretty easy, isn’t it? Why hasn’t this been done? Well, heck, that would take away a lot of really amazing pictures, and we can’t have that, can we? Actually, we can have that. I can fly my drone over nearby Palomar Airport and shoot a plane taking off, and I guarantee you that my picture of the pilot shaking his fist at my drone just before it hits his windshield would be an headline grabber – but that doesn’t justify allowing such a picture even on a drone photography website, much less having it win a contest.

 My other pet peeve is news stations that pay for and use drone photographs that are clearly taking in violations of the law. Here in San Diego County I have seen a number of videos used on the local news that were clearly taken within 5 miles of local airports by drone pilots I personally know do have any kind of 333 or Part 107 “status”. It’s pretty easy to pull out Google Earth and figure out that the USS