Maiden flight

Here you can see the top of a nearby low mountain range called Taunus. It’s only a 20-minute drive from my home. That’s why I often spend Sunday mornings up there in the woods.

This winter I bought myself a drone. And this morning I wanted to let it fly for the very first time. So I drove to the Taunus and looked for a clearing in the forest where nobody could see my embarrassing first attempt to fly. It was very foggy, and I had no idea if I could get above the cloud cover.
I set everything up, started the drone, let it go up, and took a few shots. After taking a panorama the controller suddenly lost the connection to the drone. Uhhh no, what should I do now? I had practically no experience with the drone.
Fortunately, the drone started the return to home function. And a few minutes later, the drone was hovering half a meter off the ground right in front of me. But what should I do now? Still no connection to the drone. I can’t initiate the landing. I was again glad to have visited a lonely area in the forest. I had no choice but to wait until the drone battery ran out of power.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

I like the result of the first flight. Even if I made a rookie mistake: I only saved the images in JPG format. But fortunately, this image didn’t need much editing.

As always, any feedback is welcome.

Technical Details

Because it’s a 180-degree panorama, I cropped it quite a bit. I added some contrast and enhanced the light shining from the right side.

Jan, your story was well worth the read here. Thankfully it sounds like you were able to return home with the unit still intact. Hopefully you can figure out the disconnect issues and have better outings going into the future.
Even with the disconnect of communications you came away with a neat first flight image. I think the communication towers on the pinnacle add to the scene with a point of focus overall. The clouds and fog also provide a somewhat narrow path to the towers in the scene.

A very good friend lives in Koenigstein in the Taunus. I have been there a couple of times to visit him and his family and it is a beautiful area.

I have difficulty relating to drone photography. For me, a huge part of the enjoyment and satisfaction I derive from my photography is being there in the moment and engaging in the process from start to finish. The final image is only a portion of what I get from being in the field and being immersed in the moment. Drone work is far too removed for me to ever try it.

The drone did capture some fine atmospherics with the clouds and fog.

I think that it is an impressive image for a first attempt Jens. I understand Harleys comment about the immersive nature of photography, but drones do offer some unique perspectives.

I have been tempted to buy a drone, but stories like yours give me pause. There is much more out of my control with a flying camera! This image though is wonderful and I’m glad you got it even if it’s a jpeg. It’s something I’ll never see and one that makes me envious of birds. Are there a lot of airspace restrictions in your country like there are here? That’s another thing that puts me off, the constant rule-changing.

@Paul_Breitkreuz @Harley_Goldman @Ryan @Kris_Smith
Thank you all for your feedback.

Yes, meanwhile I used the drone several times without any issues.

That’s funny. It’s really not far from my home.

Yes, I can well understand that. I have to admit that I also have more fun taking pictures with my camera. But aerial photography has also fascinated me since I took a flight over Iceland in a Cessna. But considering my ecological footprint, I think it’s better to fly a drone every now and then.

Sorry, Kris. I didn’t mean to scare you with my story. Since then, I have had no problems with the drone.
But I’ve been struggling to buy a drone for a long time. And there were basically two reasons for that:

  1. The airspace restrictions you mentioned. And yes, there are restrictions in my country. But I decided to buy a small drone (its weight is 249 g). The regulations are usually not that strict.
  2. When I’m photographing in the field and the conditions are good, should I shoot with my camera or should I fly the drone? Will this question keep putting me under pressure? I can’t give you a definitive answer to that yet. But so far, taking photos with the camera always comes first.

Jens, I really like this. The fog and light creates a beautiful atmosphere and the minimal editing suits the photo.

The only suggestion I will make is to crop the left and top a bit to make it feel a bit more balanced (maybe also a bit on the right to remove the bottom right clearing in the forest that’s a bit distracting… My eye is drawn to the peak and the sunlight, that’s where the magic is for me. The light balances well against the darker parts of the peak, but there is not much happening in the sky or the fog to the left.

Glad to hear your drone survived! I really like drone photos, so I’m looking forward to see your next one.

A great story and a good photograph to remind you of your first flight! I look forward to seeing more.

Hi Jens,

This is good, you picked a great day for the photograph!
And fine image it is! :slight_smile:
Not sure it was the best day for the maiden flight though but most drones have to record it’s home (takeoff point) before they will takeoff so they can go home on their own if the signal is lost (good thing, too, huh :smiley: ). If you only went vertical and didn’t fly around much, it’s not a big deal.

In the USA, we have to keep the drone in sight (VLOS or Visual Line Of Sight) unless you have a waiver allowing for BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line Of Sight).

I’m a full scale pilot and I mostly fly the Cessna Skyhawks (C172S). I also have my Part 107 Commercial Drone Certificate, my Inspire 2 drone with an X5S camera (w/50mm prime lens) was originally bought for making promotional videos for a bunch of local parks and recreation facilities but two years ago they wanted to switch to still photography so the drone has only been used for a few stills since then, last update to those sites were two years ago.
I probably should get it back out to cycle the batteries and maybe even do a few more stills with it.
Mine has two controllers with two 10.1 inch iPads, one for the drone pilot and a second controller for the camera pilot, it takes two people to fly that rig.

The FAA recently said we have to install a Bluetooth/WIFI remote ID by 09/23 that anyone can link to for the registration number and flight data.
I had to register mine as though it were a full size aircraft but they have since dropped that requirement for standard UAS registrations (same as a remote control airplane).
They were going to make us install ADS-B Out (basically surveillance transmitters) but they dropped that idea, thank goodness, those are heavy and expensive!

I’ll have to read about the differences in requirements between the US and Germany (out of curiosity).

I think you’re going to have a lot of fun with the drone, and to me, it has the same feeling as far as my connection to the camera and image, maybe even more since I have to pay close attention to everything around us as well. Some feel that it’s some form of AI doing it for us but as you know, that’s not the case at all, it’s more intense IMHO.

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Hi Mervin,
thanks for your feedback and for telling your story.

I just did some quick research on “Inspire 2” because I’ve never heard of it. Looks like a real drone not a 249-gram toy like mine. :rofl:

I am sure there are similar regulations in Germany for drones of this class. But mine is under the 250 gram limit. The rules are not that strict. I don’t even need a license. Nevertheless, I have acquired a small EU drone license. I was eager to learn what is allowed and what is not.

For me, it is not easy to find a good composition with the drone. When I take photos with the camera, I stand in the same place as the camera and can perceive the entire environment with all my senses. When flying with the drone, you are limited to the field of view of the display. I still have to practice that.

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Hi Jens,

I wanted to go that route when I upgraded (downgraded?) to the Inspire 2 from an S800 but for video in public parks I needed dual controllers and that wasn’t a thing for the under 250g category at the time, it is now but I’m not planning on making any more purchases.
Yeah, I lost the S800 and a full frame camera one day when one of the Lipo cells dropped, it ended with a loud thud when it hit the pavement, that was not a good day. :frowning:
Also at the time, video quality was a lacking on the under 250g versions.
Anyway, I will switch to the single controller mode for personal use with stills.
This has encouraged me to put it back in my toolkit.

A lot of new drone owners feel like they need to go to high altitudes just because they can, I had that mindset when I first started as well and it was a little hard to break away from it.

The best use I’ve ever gotten out of the whole drone thing was altitudes from 2.5 to 20 meters.
There have been many times when I felt that a good 4 meter A frame ladder would help me with the composition I wanted but that’s not a practical way to do it, but a drone is.
Point is, you might be surprised at how many times using your drone for just another meter or two higher perspective can really help.

Thanks, Jens!

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Oh no, that sounds like a total loss.

Never thought about that. But it makes perfect sense to me.

Thank you Mervin!

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I think you got a very special and lovely perspective here! I’m completely in favor of things that let us expand our capabilities!

I have been enchanted by the drone work I’ve seen and am very tempted…