With the summer now upon us you may be thinking of taking advantage of the holiday period to try your hand at using your drone for aerial photography. Great idea! You can get accessories for hobby drones that help to steady and stabilize the images produced by GoPro sports cameras and the like.
Note: it is absolutely essential to find out what is and is not permitted in any area where you are thinking of flying your drone, no matter whether it is equipped with a camera or not. Take a look, for example, at this informational video provided by the FAA (the US Federal Aviation Authority), or this PDF about using drones safely and legally in the United Kingdom.
To summarize, here are a few common sense rules (non-exhaustive) you must follow when flying a hobby drone:
- Do not fly over people, urban areas, public spaces or sensitive sites
- Do not fly your drone near airports
- Respect people’s right to personal privacy
- Check what the maximum permitted flying height is (400 feet in the USA and the UK)
- The drone must remain in your visual line of sight at all times and must not be controlled from a moving vehicle
- Night flying is not permitted
Learn from the drone-flying community. Drone fliers have a large and very active presence on the web and will be able to advise you about anything else you need to check, other precautions you need to take, and the places you need to avoid flying if you don’t want to be fined or have your machine confiscated. For example, the use of drones is prohibited in all the USA’s national parks. Additionally, some of our drone-flying friends have told us that using a drone in your living room is highly inadvisable: decapitating the yucca is a surefire way to cause domestic strife!
Another very important point to be aware of is that in many countries, commercial filming with a drone without proper authorization or special permission is strictly prohibited. And even when the photos and videos you take are not intended for commercial use, you must still not publish or distribute them without the permission of the persons concerned.
Need to travel somewhere by plane? Check the airline’s website or contact them directly to find out what special precautions need to be taken. For example, you may be required to check the drone into the hold and keep its spare batteries in your hand luggage. There may also be restrictions on the number of separate additional batteries you are allowed to take (two per person for example).
To give yourself some inspiration, visit Dronestagram and have a look at some of the photos and videos taken by other drone enthusiasts. And, as we reminded you on our blog recently, Fotolia really is essential when it comes to downloading drone photos and videos, including superb professional quality aerial images, at very affordable prices!