Charleston Aerial Photography: Some Questions and Answers

Drone photography in Charleston, SC is an exciting field, to say the least. Over the past few years, we’ve watched drones become smaller, lighter, stronger, and easier to control, all of which are great things for Charleston aerial photography. At Ellis Creek Photography, we have fully incorporated these technological improvements into our photography services, offering our clients spectacular wide-angle shots of all sorts of large properties for lower costs than ever before. We recently interviewed Joshua Corrigan, the principal photographer and resident drone photography expert at Ellis Creek Photography, to find out as much as we could about how he and his team use these amazing machines.

Q: What kind of drone do you use?

A: Three different kinds! Our three drones excel in different situations. Some do better with recording video, some are easier to use with telephoto lenses, and the controls for all three are unique. Depending on the project, we select the drone and photography equipment that we think will give us the very best results.

Q: Are the drones difficult to fly?

A: It really depends on your background. I have experience in general aviation, so flying a drone comes a little more naturally to me than it might to someone else. That being said, if you have played a lot of video games, you’ll recognize a lot of the controls and patterns of flying a drone.

Q: So you’re saying that playing a lot of video games is a great career move?

A: Well, if you’re going into the very specific field of Charleston aerial photography, it doesn’t hurt!

IMAGE CAPTION: One of our drones above the beautiful Charleston shoreline

IMAGE CAPTION: One of our drones above the beautiful Charleston shoreline

Q: What are the biggest challenges in flying a drone?

A: Everything else that’s in the sky around your drone. There are lots of power lines to look out for; you really have to be aware of things that would be very bad for your drone to run into. Obviously, you also have to steer clear of airports and manned aircraft. There are strict guidelines which must be adhered to in certain airspace. The weather can jeopardize your drone’s safety as well, whether it’s precipitation, lightning, or strong winds. Sometimes there are temporary flight restrictions in place during major events, or high security situations. You learn about all of those safety factors and restrictions when you get your FAA license for professional drone operation.

Q: You have to be licensed to fly a drone?

A: Only if you are using it for commercial purposes. You don’t need a license to fly a drone for fun, although you do still have to understand and obey all the applicable rules.

Q: We haven’t even talked about photography yet. What’s the transition like from regular photography to drone photography?

A: It certainly takes some getting used to. Charleston aerial photography is easiest for photographers who have already mastered the skills involved in landscape photography. All the basics of landscape photography come into play when you’re using a drone, so starting from that standpoint helps a lot. The big difference, of course, is that you’re putting your camera in the air and controlling it remotely, looking for the best vantage point, lighting direction, and angle…all while safely flying a small aircraft!

Q: Sounds complicated! Now, can you see the shot from the camera in real time or do you just have to “eyeball it”?

A: Oh, no, you have to see what the camera sees. As I fly the drone and position the onboard camera, I have a screen that shows me exactly what the shot looks like. As I said before, at that point the principles are very similar to those of ground-based landscape photography. You look for the best angle that encompasses everything you need, and the exposure settings that will best capture the scene in front of you.

Q: Is there anything else that makes Charleston aerial photography harder than regular landscape photography?

A: Instability. On the ground, you can mount your camera on a tripod and use slower shutter speeds to achieve great exposures. As you can imagine, however, with drone photography in Charleston, SC, the wind is constantly bumping the camera around slightly. A slow shutter speed on a drone-mounted camera results in blurry photos, so we have to use a faster speed. We mitigate this problem as much as possible by avoiding strong winds and using larger apertures and higher ISO settings. Fortunately, that’s much easier to do using drones than it was when we had to charter a plane! We have a lot more flexibility in scheduling and rescheduling our photo sessions.

IMAGE CAPTION: Drones make spectacular shots like this one possible.

IMAGE CAPTION: Drones make spectacular shots like this one possible.

Q: How do you expect Charleston aerial photography to develop (pardon the pun!) in the near future?

A: Well, right now there are some tricky limitations that we have to work around in connection with the size of the cameras and sensors that you can mount on a drone. The average drone can carry a cell-phone-sized camera sensor, which only gives the photographer so much resolution and control of the image. It will be great when manufacturers build drones that can carry larger cameras and more complex sensors, giving the photographers on the ground more control. Right now we are able to work around the limitations and provide spectacular Charleston aerial video services and photos, but it would be nice for it to be a little bit easier!

Q: Can you leave us with one really interesting fact about your Charleston aerial photography services?

A: A lot of people are surprised to learn that we use our drones indoors! When you’re photographing a large industrial facility, for instance, it’s really useful to be able to put a camera at higher elevations and get wide-angle shots of the interior. You don’t have to worry as much about wind and the other major factors outdoors, but there are far more obstacles to look out for. Two of our drones are great for indoor photography; they’re easy to control in those circumstances so we rely on them heavily.

Thanks so much for chatting with us!

No problem at all! Charleston aerial photography is a great service, and we’ve been really happy to offer it to our clients.

And thank you for joining us! Browse our website to see a few examples of Joshua and his team’s amazing drone photography in Charleston, SC.