Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Overshoot Photos December 2014 Newsletter

In this issue:-

  • Update on the Aerial Photography Directory
  • New regulations - Canada and India
  • Aerial Photography in the news
  • Search and rescue drones
  • Kit for sale
  • And finally...

The Aerial Photography Directory

As I mentioned in the last Newsletter, there is now a one-stop shop for finding Aerial Photography (AP). If you are looking for AP, then this is a good place to start - especially in the UK as there are enough photographers on board for you to find one within reasonable travelling distance.

The USA, Canada and Poland are now in place so we need some photographers there. Remember, it's not just Drones - if you are a mast operator or a kite flyer or pilot full size craft you are more than welcome. It's horses for courses - there is no one-stop solution for an Aerial Photography request.

New Regulations

Since the last Newsletter both Canada and India have issued regulations.


You are responsible to fly your aircraft safely and legally. In Canada, you must:
  • Follow the rules set out in the Canadian Aviation Regulations.
  • Respect the Criminal Code as well as all municipal, provincial, and territorial laws related to trespassing and privacy
For full details, follow the link here


The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has started to look at the issue (prompted, no doubt by the delivery of a pizza via UAV) but until it has announced its regulations, the use of drones is prohibited.

See here for a nicely written summary of a few of the countries (but bear in mind it has been superseded in India at least)

Aerial Photography in the news

Once again, UAVs are hitting the headlines, but still not for the right reasons. Some recent examples


Search and rescue drones

One of the positive uses of Drones are in Search and Rescue scenarios. In the absence of full size craft, they can cover a far larger area than walking searchers and, if equipped with Thermal Imaging cameras, can search out heat sources.

S.W.A.R.M. (Search With Aerial Rc Multi-rotor) is a worldwide volunteer search and rescue network of over 1,100 SAR Drone Pilots dedicated to searching for missing persons. Our primary mission is to offer and provide multi-rotor (drone) and fixed wing aerial search platforms for ongoing Search and Rescue operations at no cost to the SAR organization or to the family. In addition, we want to create increased awareness about the BENEFITS of RC Drone technologies.

If you have a Drone and are interested in becoming a volunteer. why not check out their website?

Kit for Sale

Looking to buy or sell a UAV System? Check out our Marketplace. Another Draganfly X6 has just been added to the growing list.

And Finally...

It's pretty much the end of the year. For those celebrating Christmas or any other festival in some form or another this year, rumour has it that a Drone is one of the best selling gadgets this year and I make no apologies for repeating last year's cartoon

cartoon (C) Scott Johnson, c/o

Thanks for reading and see you in 2015.

Happy flying

Monday, 6 October 2014

Overshoot Photos October 2014 Newsletter

In this issue:-

  • New website for Aerial Photography - whether you are looking or providing
  • FAA gradually easing up on Drone regulations - paving way to licencing?
  • What to look for when you want aerial photography
  • Aerial Photography in the news
  • Overshoot Photograph of the day
New Aerial Photography website

In the beginning there was the Internet (OK, we're skipping a couple of other minor worldly events).

Then there was Compuserve and AOL that you dialled into to get to the Internet and you were presented with a mass of articles and features on the Home page, all designed to keep you there.

Then along came Google with just a name and a search box. The Home page was uncluttered and you could find anything that you wanted. The algorithms got better, but the quantity of data grew and grew. Website owners could 'game' the results to get better listings. The "useful results" to "white noise" ratio dropped and is still dropping today and it is now getting harder to tie down what you are looking for. 'Googlewhack' was coined, whereby Google would only return one search result. Dave Gorman found that his name was such one result. Nowadays, a search for "Dave Gorman" provides nearly half a million.

It's time for a change, again, with specialist Directories pulling specific data and websites together to help you search.

Welcome to www.AerialPhotography.Directory

AerialPhotography.Directory allows specialist Elevated and Aerial Photographers to be listed together in one place and for potential clients to search for them. From masts to drones and full-size craft, everything can be found. There is no 'one size fits all'.

If you are searching for Aerial Photography, type in your Country and County, then you will get a list of providers, sorted by distance. You can see their skills and sample work.

If you are a Provider
, then get listed here and start to get found. The website is still in Beta test, so for now it won't cost you a penny - free advertising in a specialist Directory! It doesn't get much better than that. We will be introducing a charge in 2015. If you pay commission to an Agent at the moment, then pay no more.

Do check out the website and let us know what you think. It is limited to the UK at the moment, but other countries are being added over the next few weeks, so if interested, drop us a line with your email and Country and we will let you know when your Country has been added.

It has only just been released, so you are one of the first to know about it. Bear with us whilst we get providers signed's a bit sparse at the moment...

US announces that Movie Makers can start using dronesThe Federal Aviation Administration is announcing that it is granting permits to seven movie and television production companies to fly drones, an important step toward greater use of the technology by commercial operators, said attorneys and a company official familiar with the decision.

Click here to see the story on the Briefly.Today website.

ED: Canada is already welcoming drones, so this seems to be a move by the FAA under pressure from others to keep film making in the US and prevent the revenue going abroad. I'm sure that if the FAA had its own way, it wouldn't allow any Commercial Drone usage. It has dragged its heels thus far and it's pretty certain that it has been made an offer that it cannot refuse.

What to look for when you want aerial photography

Aerial Photography is terrific. It literally adds dimension to a photograph or video, makes it stand out and has more impact. But what sort of aerial photography do you need? What are the pros and cons? Can I do this and that with your craft? What's best value?

There is no 'one size fits all' for aerial photography. Each request has to be looked at individually and usually there will be at least one option. Manned craft are good for wide area shots, but are expensive. Masts are good for a cheap and cheerful solution where it is unsafe to fly, but are height restricted. Drones, kites and blimps are excellent for the middle ground but face restrictions on where they can operate. This web page will give you a visualisation of what can be achieved. Things to consider/ask the Operator

  • What are your restrictions?
  • If it's raining, what happens?
  • Are you insured for commercial use? Can I see a copy of your insurance?
  • Are you allowed for fly commercially in this Country? Can I see your Certification?
Be prepared with the following information for starters
  • Location(s). Postcodes are good as we can look the location up on Google Maps for safety checks.
  • Date(s). Fixed (e.g. a wedding day) or flexible if the weather is not good?
  • A rough idea of what you want. Masts are very good at timelapse, drones not so as they tend to fall out of the sky when the batteries run out
  • Do you want post-processing as well or just the stills / raw video delivered?
Read full article here.

Aerial Photography in the News

Aerial Photography has been in the news over the Summer - and not all of it good. Especially with the availability of the DJI Phantom and similar Ready To Fly (RTF) craft, anyone can pick up one from a gadget shop, attach a GoPro and chuck it up into the air, conveniently ignoring the consequences of 1Kg of craft plus spinning blades dropping on someone or a road / railway.

Some headlines from this year:-

Anfield stadium matchday drone footage prompts Civil Aviation Authority to issue advice
Man arrested for flying drone near U.S. Open venue
'River of blood' after drone 'hits' Australian athlete

On the upside:

Drone Images Reveal Buried Ancient Village in New Mexico

Read all these and more here.

Overshoot Photograph of the day (well, Newsletter)
In the Summer, I was asked at very short notice to help out with a School Project at Soham, Cambridgeshire. The three schools in the village had come together to create a giant poppy using the schoolchildren wearing specific colours. At the last minute, they had been let down by the aerial photographer and I stepped in.

This poppy was the culmination of a lot of hard work and they didn't want it to go unnoticed. Safety restrictions meant that I could not fly directly above (or, in fact within 50m of) the pupils so I opted for a flight about 100m away from the base of the poppy with one of the schools in the background.

Here is the result

Here's the local Newspapers' take on it

Soham Museum has an exhibition featuring the photographs and other aspects of the project this autumn. Do pop in if you are in the area - and don't forget to enthuse over the aerials!

That's it for this Newsletter. Do check out the new www.AerialPhotography.Directory and give it a go. Please feedback any issues or bugs and also suggest any features that you would like added.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Overshoot Photo's January 2014 Newsletter

Welcome to Overshoot Photo's January 2014 Newsletter

In this issue:-

  • CES - Drones making a stir
  • US announces six drone test sites
  • BBC iPlayer behind the scenes of Earthflight
  • Some Business advice for start-ups
CES - Drones making a stir

The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones reports from this year's Technology Show - CES in Las Vegas

"Drones - or UAVs as we must learn to call them - are also much in evidence this year. Just a few weeks ago Amazon's plan to deliver parcels via drone was met with a wave of scepticism. But companies like China's DJI are showing more immediately practical uses for drones, from aerial filming to monitoring crops"

Click here to see full article

US announces six Drone Test sites

The US aviation regulator has announced the six states that will host sites for testing commercial use of drones. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) picked Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia. The sites are part of a programme to develop safety and operational rules for drones by the end of 2015.

That's next year, so if you are in the US and are seriously wanting to build up a commercial Aerial Photography Business, you need to get established and ready to go - a Drone, obviously, but also SEO optimised AP website and stay in the loop as to the progress and how you can obtain Approval.

BBC iPlayer - behind the scenes of Earthflight

A Special programme looking at the techniques used in the production of Earthflight, including using microlights and gliders to become part of the flock. (R)

Yet more evidence of the extent that the BBC is using Aerial Photography more and more.

Click here (May not be available in some countries)
Some Business advice for start-ups
Now,I appreciate that some of you are coming from an established Business already and want to add Aerial Photography to your existing Portfolio, but if you are starting from scratch, then you might like to know of a few money saving suggestions that I have used over time. With something like one in three Businesses failing in the first three years, it makes sense to optimise your chances and keep costs to a minimum. I'll post a couple of suggestions each month.

Staples is an online and offline stationery supplier. Make sure that you get its (free) Rewards Card so that you can pick up points each time you shop - and also receive money-off vouchers through the post. For a shop, its prices are pretty competitive.

ClickDocs. Why reinvent the wheel? If you need legal documents such as Terms & Conditions, Employment Contracts, don't pay a Solicitor an arm and a leg when you can have a ready-made one drawn up by a Legal team for a fraction of the cost. ClickDocs covers Business Documents, Partnerships, Commercial documents and Hire Agreements. Click to have a look at the full range.

That's it for this Newsletter. If you want to know more about the Second Hand Draganflys for sale, check out the website and get in touch for further information and to buy. If you are new to the concept, don't forget to download the Whitepaper linked to on the Home Page.

Happy Flying and may 2014 bring you what you want


Friday, 20 December 2013

Welcome to Overshoot Photo's December 2013 Newsletter

In this issue:-

  • Draganfly X4 added to 'for sale' list
  • Amazon tests out Drone Delivery
  • BBC report on the above plus Civilian use
  • BBC Drone - Thailand Rally
Draganfly X4 added to 'For Sale'

Overshoot is now selling a Draganfly X4 plus all the usual accessories (stills camera, video camera, Basestation etc.). The X4 is the next model down from the X6. It is lacking the GPS functionality, so the user is unable to use this to record position, nor lock the drone into position - so the pilot has to free-fly it. Apart from that, it is very similar and represents a lower price point into this Business. At this price, it should pay for itself with a few shoots in no time

Click here to see full specs and prices:

Amazon tests out Drone Delivery

Amazon has released a video demonstrating 'PrimeAir', it's new delivery concept using Drones

It's an interesting concept, but that's all it is, a concept. I personally can never see this becoming reality as a commercial option for Amazon. Safety implications both from mechanical failure and collision with other drones, cables, buildings etc. etc. Theft of the Drone, battery life limitations and so on really make it a non-flier (ho ho - it is Christmas). Still, you never know where these ideas take you - perhaps they could be used in Amazon's warehouses in a controlled environment. The picking staff are already called 'drones'...

BBC report on the above plus Civilian use

Not much to add, really. Interesting report.

BBC Drone - Thailand Rally Report
BBC reporting Live from the Thailand Rally with Drone footage. Comments?

My main question is one of safety. That drone is directly over the crowd and descends to just in front of the crowd as the Reporter finishes his piece to camera. In Europe under CAA or EuroUSC rules, this would be a clear violation of clearance rules. I don't care what reassurances would be given by the BBC team, accidents still happen. Here's National Geographic getting into trouble:

I guess the rules in Thailand are slacker. Doesn't mitigate the risk of injuring (or worse) to the public.

Finally, a hark back to the Amazon story. Merry Christmas

cartoon (C) Scott Johnson, c/o

That's it for this Newsletter. If you want to know more about the Second Hand Draganflys for sale, check out the website and get in touch for further information. If you are new to the concept, don't forget to download the Whitepaper linked to on the Home Page

Happy Flying


Monday, 24 September 2012

Shooting fish in a barrel

(Not Aerial)

One of my neighbours puts out leftover cooked chicken onto the garden. This explains the preponderance of Red Kites in the area on a regular basis.

Having faced near extinction, they can be found in plenty of places such as the Beaconsfield / Wycombe area of the M40. I think that they are beautiful birds with their forked tails and colouring and have been trying to photograph them as they circle the house.

I daren't send my Drone up as, if it was to come into contact, it would come second and the kite may also end up an injured first. Instead, I've been trying to capture them with my trusty Nikon and a zoom lens.

And the results have been rubbish.

This is the best so far.. At least you can tell it's a kite

Similar practice efforts of seagulls at the seaside have produced similar results.

Last week, however, I was in London. Whilst half my family were at a meeting, I and my daughter had an hour and a bit to kill so we decided to walk around the Serpentine in Hyde Park. It was sunny, but breezy and we were armed with a bag of bread.

Arm-breaking swans notwithstanding (A Brucie Bonus to anyone who actually knows someone who has had their arm broken), she lined them up and I shot them down. Or rather she lobbed a microscopically small morsel of bread into the air and immediately we were flashmobbed by ducks, coots, pigeons and other birds (plus the aforementioned swans). It was so easy to click away, catching birds in flight, cruising and synchronised dive-bombing. Once the scene had transformed itself into a remake of The Birds we moved on and tried again.

Anyway, whilst not spectacular, I did managed to capture a fair few in flight and, due to sheer statistics, some of those came out well by my standards.

So, the moral is, if you want to practice capturing birds in flight, get the odds in your favour, find somewhere with lots, then bribe them to fly towards you. Even better, give your 8-year old the bread, stand back and prepare for incoming.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Docklands - the Sky's the Limit

I am licenced to fly (safely) up to 400 feet high (120 metres). Most shots need nowhere this height as they tend to be PR Shots and as long as you get an angle on the building or event, then that is ideal. Any higher and it all starts to look a bit 'flat' in the same way as ground-based shots have no depth to them either (which is where Aerial imagery comes into its own). I'm sure that you've looked up your own place on Google Maps - it's interesting, but not something that you would want to print and frame, is it?

Occasionally I need some serious height, mostly when I'm photographing prospective views from a proposed Tower Block.

Providence Tower from Ballymore Group was one of those.

If I'm out in the sticks, this is not a problem. This one is in Docklands, which is also near City Airport and, just for good measure, was during the Olympics fortnight when all the ground and air security was present.

NATS and the CAA are very good with us UAV operators. Obviously City Airport does not want unknown entities flying around their area, especially where, with the smaller Drones, there is not the facility (payload capability) for radio identification nor a 'sense and avoid' mechanism. Rather than taking the easy option of denying us all flights, we can file a 'non-standard flight' plan with them which explains what we intend to do, where and when and, if there is no issue, we will be accepted. On the day we make a couple of calls to advise the Control Tower and London Area Control Centre; they have a copy of the plan and everyone is happy.

The Flight Plan for this work was successfully filed. However a copy was sent to the Olympic Security Organisers as well and I ended up speaking directly with HMS Ocean moored in the Thames who wanted to know what I was up to. Once I had explained what I was doing, where it was happening and what the craft looked like, then everything was fine. Again, a call to them on the day ensured that nothing would be scrambled following any reports of a Drone in the area and I did not run the risk of being taken out accidentally. Drone vs Sidewinder (or whatever is the UK equivalent is) is only going to go one way, let's face it.

I have no idea whether my activities were reported by a passer-by or not, suffice it to say that the shots were taken without incident on a lovely day, with the Dome and Greenwich Park in the distance and were a set of the best shots I've ever taken.

400 feet is a looong way up but the built in GPS and Barometric hold facilities of the X6 locks it into position in 3D space and I can concentrate on the photography. It's not something I can say that I enjoy doing as it's such a small dot at that height and needs excellent weather conditions to prevent buffeting and shaky images but when the results are good you do feel good about the outcome, even if it's somewhat buttock-clenching at the time.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Droneworld - Part II

Following on from the Newsnight article, I was interviewed by Phil Gayle on BBC Radio Oxford the following morning. It was only a short interview but the whole of the Breakfast Show was dedicated to this issue of Drones.

Phil Galye, the Presenter was attempting to stir the listeners up into an anti-drone movement, citing 'privacy issues' and 'Not in my back yard' (NIMBY) concerns. 'What if I were sunbathing in my garden at the same time as you were photographing my neighbour's house?' was one question for example. Are these drones going to peer into bedroom windows?

I only had 2-3 minutes for the whole interview, which wasn't adequate to put the points that I needed across, so here's my ideal interview transcript.

Phil Gayle: Good morning. We are talking about the new rules regarding Drones and that we may be seeing hundreds of them criss-crossing the UK. Are you concerned about your privacy? Do you think this is a good thing or bad? I have in the studio Andy Crowhurst, owner of Overshoot Photos to discuss this with me. Good Morning, Andy.

Me: Good Morning Phil.

PG: So, this drone you fly. What is it used for?

Me: I photograph all sorts of things, anything where an elevated view would enhance the subject. I've photographed private properties as Anniversary presents and also for Estate Agents to help sell it. I photograph photogenic Hotels and Penthouse views from properties that are yet to be built. I've even shot a scrapyard.

PG: So, if I was sunbathing and you were filming next door, would I be in the photo or would you crop me out. It seems a bit of an invasion of privacy.

Me: The chances are that you would be in the photo if I was to shoot the back garden, but usually I'm only shooting the front. In my experience, if I was shooting the back garden you would not fail to notice me and my Client, your neighbour would also alert you. More often than not you'd be round to see the craft. Most people I meet are fascinated by it and I have yet to meet someone concerned about it.

PG: What if I were in my bedroom doing my usual naked exercises - or worse and failed to spot you?

Me: Have you ever tried to look in a neighbours window? - you don't need to answer that - The distance, angles and reflections make it pretty unlikely that anything could see inside and, even then, assuming that the curtains were open, the chances of catching you seem pretty slim. The cameras that I use are pretty limited due to weight constraints and I am there for professional purposes. If someone wanted to snoop, they would be better off up a distant tree with a camera with a decent zoom than hovering a pretty obvious drone outside your window.

I test my drone and cameras out in my garden and the pictures I take of the house do not show inside. Too many reflections.

PG: What does the law say about all this snooping?

Me: With a couple of exceptions, anyone with a camera is allowed to photograph anyone else in a public place. Or a private place from a public place. Or from a private place with the owner's permission. Just because the camera is attached to the Drone doesn't make the law any different, in fact we have more restrictions because of where we are and are not allowed to fly. There are many times more cameras and CCTV equipment snooping on us that the handful of drones that are in existence. You can get disguised cameras the size of cigarette packets transmitting images back to base. That is scarier.

We are professionals doing a professional job and, like all professions, there may be a darker side but the cost of the equipment and the licencing means that you need to be pretty determined to use it for nefarious purposes.

PG: That seems reassuring. Andy Crowhurst, owner of Overshoot Photos, thank you.