Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Matt Kloskowski who’s a lead instructor at Photoshop World. You can take a class called Lights, Aerial Camera, Action! with Russell Brown at the conference.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people on if/when/how I’ll use a quad copter in my landscape photography. The DJI Phantom has been getting a ton of buzz lately. I’m friends with lots of people that’ve been using them and I see their photos posted online just about every day. And you hear plenty of people talk about how the copter is a “game changer” for photographers and videographers. I definitely think it is. Footage and photos that once required thousands of dollars (if not tens of thousands) of equipment and helicopter/jib rentals, can now be done for hundreds of dollars.

Will I Use One?

Right now, the only use I have for a quad copter is to mess around with my kids because they dig RC (remote control) stuff. Personally, photos from that high up don’t grab me. Here’s a story. I went parasailing with my kids this past summer. I remember thinking it would be great to bring a camera up that high and take photos. But when I got up there, I realized that, while it’s beautiful from up high, from a photography perspective it just didn’t grab me.

Why I Don’t Like Photos From Up High

First, remember this is all a personal preference for me. The way I see it, photos from that high up take away all foreground. They take away the depth that I try to get with my landscape photos. Foreground. Middle-ground. Background… these are all things I’m looking for in my compositions. So when you take that away, in my opinion, you have a postcard. And postcards aren’t bad mind you, but they’re just not what I’m looking for in my work.

A Postcard?

I use the term “postcard” because that’s what a certain type of photo makes me think of. It’s a photo from some vantage point up high that let’s you see everything around you. They’re not bad mind you. They’re actually great to share with some one who’s never been to the place before. But what I’ve learned about myself (and judging from the stats on my personal portfolio and what people like to view), these photos don’t seem to connect. Again, this is just me, but I’ll take a photo down low with a strong foreground in it, any day over the photo from up high.

Oh, and by the way, I have many postcard photos. Here’s a few.

bergen1-620x386 MJK_8445-copy-620x413

I’m not saying these photos aren’t nice. But I can’t help it. They just don’t do “it” for me. They’re great for photo books of my trips, and they’re definitely not throw-aways, but it’s not a photo I’d hang on my wall. In fact, the photo above was about an hour hike uphill while I was in Norway. So I had some time invested in it. I was excited, drenched in sweat, moving quickly to get there because I couldn’t wait to see what it looked like. When I got there, I snapped off a few photos and realized it just wasn’t what I was looking for. So I quickly hiked down before the really good sunset light, got in the car, and went off to a place closer to the water.



So Does That Mean I’ll Never Use One?

I’ve learned way too many times that saying “never” always comes back to bite me. So I’ll leave it that, as of right now, I have no interest in incorporating them in to my landscape and outdoor photography work. Believe me, I want to. I LOVE RC stuff! I’d love to be able to justify buying a quad copter (or better) and a bunch of gadgets to go along with it, but right
now I don’t have a use for it. Will that change? What I’ve learned about myself is that I’m usually wrong ;-) So yes, it’ll probably change. Or not. Who knows? :-)

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Landscape, Opinion, Photography, Wildlife