Rob Barron – Droning On

Rob Barron joined us on Tuesday to give us an insight into the increasingly popular hobby of flying and filming with drones. A regular visitor to the club as a judge and at inter-club competitions, it was good to welcome him as a speaker on this occasion.

Rob has been flying drones for 3 or 4 years, really from when it became an affordable pastime, drones in one form or another have been around for decades, but now the camera image quality and the handling of them is relatively easy to master, and the resulting stills and videos are really very good.

As we will all be aware the press report on people snooping and that they are invasion of privacy, but there are some simple guidelines and regulations that most drone operators adhere to. The images themselves are shot on a very wide angle lens, ideal for landscapes and vistas, but zoom in to the people and you really aren’t able to identify who they are.

The drones are actually programmed to be very ‘clever’ and with each generation the technology improves, the GPS is superb, they are programmed to return to the place of launch ‘home’ if the battery is getting too low, they have ‘avoidance’ sensors to keep them from crashing into things, and for the user you can set aperture, exposure etc just as you would on a camera, and then edit as usual. The hover is so stable that it is likely to be better than hand-held…. it must be said that Rob has learnt the hard way how ‘useful’ some of these features are, such as the occasion he forgot to re-set the ‘home’ and drove off to another site 3 or 4 miles away, the drone worked out it need to get back to ‘home’ before the battery went flat and Rob could do nothing but leap back in the car and meet it there, not content with that, this was in the days before sensors were installed to stop them crashing into things, like poplar trees, so viewing the iPad on the control panel Rob had to find the said poplar, in a wood, part-way back to the ‘home’ site. Amazingly it survived, but needless to say the upgrade with the ‘crash avoidance system’ is a blessing.

The drone also has a memory, you can set a map course, or set a point of interest for it to circle around filming, get it to re-fly somewhere you have completed under manual control, all these give a smooth final film.

Rob showed a good number of stills and then video footage that he had taken around Dorset and beyond. There was a bit of drone balancing, juggling and acrobatics on another video clip, just to impress how advanced their programming is, and how well the dual gyroscopes inside cope. The final sequence of photographs, from a range of photographers, as well as Rob, were from around the world, well known landmarks, seen from ‘drones-eye’ view.

I am sure a few members may be venturing into a new hobby soon, and Rob certainly sold it to us.

Rachel Cooper

I have been a club member for several years now and find I learn something whichever club event I attend. I enjoy the Studio Group evenings, but equally am happy photographing whatever the surroundings provide at home and out and about.

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