Look up in the sky and maybe you’ll see one of them: little flying robots with cameras. No, they’re not UFOs or props from sci-fi movies. They’re drones, but the good kind, used to produce aerial images from a unique panoramic view. They’re amassing fans from all over the world, from professionals to amateurs to Martha Stewart.
The pictures taken by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are truly amazing, but users must be careful not to fly them where people are around — they can be easily mistaken for military drones and freak civilians out.
How do they work?
The most basic drone consists of a battery, a sensor and helix propellers. Drones also have GPS capabilities, radio and a camera. They can reach speeds of 50 mph, controlled by a remote that also coordinates the focusing and shooting of the camera.
The images produced can be monitored by a computer, a tablet or a smartphone. Prices vary between $1,000 and $2,500, and they are not hard to find, even in department stores. But there are countries where drone use is restricted.
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A way of life
Thanks to its growing popularity, drone photography has even given rise to its very own social network called Dronestagram, focused on sharing photographs taken by drones all over the world. With 10,000 members, the website recently ran the first ever competition dedicated to photography taken by drones.
“This is a new visual language, a new way of seeing and discovering the world, a kind of new tool for images,” said Eric Dupin, founder of Dronestagram. “I really like flying drones myself on my free time.”
For him, the gadget presents more benefits than any other: “Drones can go to places that no other device can go and shoot with unbelievable angles.”
How countries police drones
France is one of the few countries that have established standards for commercial and civilian drone use. Most of the world’s nations still lack regulation. That may be related to the controversy around these gadgets, due chiefly to their hotly debated use by the military.
On his National Geographic blog, photographer Kike Calvo shares his personal experiences with drones. He gave us a few tips:
• Before trying it out alone, it’s key that seasoned practitioners teach you how to use the drone without any risks to you and others.
• Be patient during your training and enjoy it.
• Read as much as possible to know more about the running of these devices.
• Be really careful while using it, not forgetting that they can cause accidents or be very dangerous.