Drone photography is a great way to capture images of our world and I have become something of a specialist. I use it a lot for my work as a commercial photographer in Dunedin, mostly industrial jobs like demolitions, property images, or roof and window surveys. But recently I decided to push my creative envelope and try using my drone to create some abstract photos. I’ve always thought it is important to have one or more personal creative projects on the go.
I was inspired by a visit with award-winning photographer Janyne Fletcher while shooting a demolition job in the town of Ranfurly. Jane has a gallery with a stunning collection of images that she sells, inspired by the Maniototo landscape. She includes some gorgeous drone photography in the form of birds eye views of local features. It would be plain rude to try and emulate what she does, and there’s already plenty of great landscape drone photography out there, so I decided to experiment with some abstract images by moving the drone during the photo exposure, a popular form of photography known as ICM, for Intentional Camera Movement. I’ve done some with my hand-held cameras and really enjoy it, particularly a technique called the Zoom twist, that creates beautiful impressionistic images with a distinctive sprial blur to them. This one is from one of my favourite environments: the New Zealand beech forest near Southland’s Mavora lakes.
Instead of twisting the camera around the zoom lens as I did to make the image above, I thought I could make the drone ascend while spinning to achieve the same effect. It took a while to figure out just how to achieve that with my Mavic 2 Pro, but I eventually nailed one. Then the floodgates opened.
Pulling off these interesting spirals was just the first step. I soon discovered a few other ways of flying the drone to create other types of abstract and one kind of landscape shot that really surprised me. When I went looking for similar work around the internet, it wasn’t easy to find more. So I decided to go large and really make this emerging branch of photography my own. Since then I’ve made some great discoveries and there have been some very exciting developments. More on that in part two…