Eric Cheng recently left DJI, where he had served as the company’s Director of Aerial Imaging for nearly two years. Eric is a photographer by profession but, during his time at DJI, he became the face of the prosumer drone community. He appeared in nearly all of DJI’s product videos and flew drones at all sorts of industry events, but he is perhaps best known in the community for taking picture like this:
So it was with great pleasure we got our hands on a copy of Mr. Cheng’s new book about flying drones and taking pictures. It’s an excellent read and a timely release because Aerial Photography and Videography Using Drones is an essential tool for anyone who wants to get serious about drone photography.
Even if you are a beginner who is merely interested in drones, this book is sure to answer many of your questions.
Cheng starts off Aerial Photography by drawing a line between three different kinds of ‘drones’: Integrated, Ready-to-Fly Drones, like DJI and 3D Robotics’ products, Hobby Drones, which are often DIY, customizable kits, and Packaged Hobby Drones, which appear to be integrated but are really preassembled hobby drones that lack any real technology.
The book focuses on Integrated drones because they are the only way to capture the kind of professional Aerial Imagery the public is beginning to expect from drones.
He also goes into in depth discussions about drone equipment describing the different kinds of batteries, gimbals, FPV hardware, and (most importantly) cameras that are available for integrated drones.
Unsurprisingly, Cheng favors DJI’s products, but he does give due consideration to 3D Robotics’ Solo which can be equipped with a GoPro.
In the second chapter, Cheng gives an excellent overview of how to actually fly a drone.
It’s actually kind of a mini training course.
He walks you through how to calibrate a drone, best pre-flight practices and, in what is probably the most useful part of the book, Cheng outlines some flying exercises every drone pilot should practice before considering professional work. There are even demo videos you can access online that accompany these exercises.
The book then goes into detail about how to use all of the features of both the photography hardware and software available in DJI and GoPro’s systems.
After walking readers through all the “how to” of drone photography, Cheng includes a chapter chronicling some of his most impressive shoots, including the volcano shown above.
The book concludes with a brief overview of the murky waters of drone regulation.
Cheng is very upfront about the continually changing nature of this topic:
“It is simply not possible to write a definitive guide at this time that will be 100% accurate when you are reading this book.”
But, he does give a good history of how we have arrived at this particular moment in the life of federal drone regulations and explains the best ways to fly within the FAA’s current guidelines.
“The biggest challenges faced by the emerging drone industry are cultural and regulatory,” Cheng concludes.
While there is nothing you can do to expedite the regulatory process, it’s up to people like you to change the cultural perception of drones by flying safely and respectfully. And if you or someone you know is interested in learning exactly how to fly in this manner, Aerial Photography and Videography Using Drones is required reading.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com