For thirty years, my wife Carolyn (a journalist) and I have been photographing and writing about house interiors for the national and international home-interest magazines like Homes & Gardens and Country Living. The commercial spin-off has become any photography related to buildings, whether they be hotels, schools, stately homes or holiday cottages.
From time to time we come across properties where a photograph of the exterior from ground level doesn’t always manage to sum up its location. It’s often difficult to capture the impression of the hills behind or the proximity of the sea in the distance, which is why a certain amount of elevation is always helpful.
With this in mind, we were intrigued when we first heard about drones and their ability to fly close to buildings in a controlled and stable manner. We had seen just how unsteady and difficult to manoeuvre model helicopters were, but these were a totally different kettle of fish. With a film or stills camera attached to a cradle underneath the rig, they were versatile enough when flown competently to do what we had always wanted – ‘get the right angle’.
Last year, we invested in a steadycam gimbal called a ‘Movi’ to hold the camera, which is used by many film units and television companies. It allows very smooth filming and has added a whole new dimension to our capabilities.
Most buildings benefit from being photographed from an elevated angle and it doesn’t always have to be very high. Invariably tree height is enough to start to see the surrounding countryside. Looking at our monitors, it’s often a revelation to witness the image getting steadily better as the camera height gradually increases, opening up the background view.
We still have lots to learn, but so far using our octocopter has been a real eye-opener and we hope we can continue to bring our newfound skills to hotels, holiday homes, wedding venues, public schools and private houses in fabulous locations. You may not know it yet, but all you need is our octocopter to ‘get the right angle’!