Top 17 Drone Shots of 2017

My Seventeen Favorite Drone Shots of 2017

If you had to pick one thing about my photography that changed in 2017 it had to be my usage of a drone. I got my drone shortly after the new year, and I knew that I would overuse it at the beginning. I made a special folder on my website with that in mind. When I started HDR photography I would HDR everything. I used HDR on dogs, beer bottles, and even a pizza. When you have a new toy you tend to play with it too much. That was the case of me with my drone this year. I made some good photos with it during the course of the year. I also made some terrible photos with it just to get out and fly. As the year calmed down a bit so did my usage of the drone. It has now become a tool in my bag to use. I have some ideas that I have been sitting on for a while now with the drone so maybe it needs to come out of my bag a little more this year than it did at the end of last year. Here are my seventeen favorite drone shots from 2017.

Bonus

This is the first shot that I made with my drone after I purchased it. It was a cold day and I wanted to go somewhere with few people in case I did something wrong. We went to the local park where I was able to fly my drone with nobody around me. This was the result of that trip. It will never win any awards, but it was the start of me finding what I liked to do with a drone.

17. One thing that the drone allowed me to do was to be somewhere else. I live in an area surrounded by houses and trees. When something amazing happens in the sky I have a very narrow view to look for it. With the drone I was able to go up and above everything else to find moments like the one above. The double rainbow photo is made by stitching together six separate shots. This taught me that I can use a lot of the techniques that I use on the ground in the air.

16. This is the home that I grew up in. At the end of the month the house will change hands to someone else, and they can bring up their family there. I love this house because it has so many memories in it. At some point though you have to let things go and let others make memories there too. I like that I was able to make a shot of it with my drone to get the lay of the land so to speak. As I put up my countdowns this week you will see more from here I would bet.

15. One of the fun things with the drone is to go overhead and find patterns. Here as I covered a yoga group on the Myers bridge I was able to go above everyone to make a cool shot. I wanted to see all of the colors of the mats. The straight down look was one that I really like. It is just a new way to look at life. You will see it much more before this countdown is over.

14. Here at the Indianapolis Museum of Art you can really see how the straight down view makes a huge difference. Those people running by the benches probably didn’t realize that they formed a skeleton. From overhead it is obvious. This year was all about experimenting with the drone to find what I liked about it, and what seemed to work. This was one of those days where I was just experimenting. 

13. The top down view can turn something boring into something amazing. Here a simple drainage ditch looks very cool to me. I have liked this photo since the day that I made it.

12. This was a stroke of luck during my first flight on campus. I was just out of frame here flying the drone. The light was fading, and I was bringing the drone back to me. It was then that I noticed these three people walking side by side down the sidewalk and realized that it could be a cool visual. I like that for a second the shadows are confusing to some people. This is something that I would like to experiment with a bit more this year.

11. The drone allowed me to make compositions that I normally could not make. Here I could never wade out into this water to make this shot. I would have had to make a far worse photo from the shore. I guess I could have commandeered that boat to do it, but then we are getting into a bad place. This is a simple shot, but one that was fun to make.

10. At the Williamsport Falls I made many photos from the ground that day. I liked my overhead photos the best though. The drone opened me up to something that I never thought that I would do this year. I went live on Facebook during flights. This was one of those that I went live for. The stream was choppy, but you can see what I saw that day by watching the video here.

The Sun Sets Over the Purdue Bell Tower

9. I made this photo on campus shortly before I made the shadow photo that was just above here. I like the idea of looking at campus from a different view. I have walked it so much that at times I feel that I don’t pay enough attention as I do. With the drone I was able to get a new view of campus, and really make some different photos.

8. Speaking of different photos this one definitely fits that description. This is the point where the Wabash River and Wildcat Creek collide. I love the different looks of the water, and the way that they mix. For some reason I was really feeling creative, and I applied a warm preset to the photo to give it an even crazier look. This was one of my most popular photos on social media last year.

7. This was from a fun shoot with my friend Trevor Mahlmann. He spent 2017 doing many things, but one of those was photographing every lighthouse on Lake Michigan. He let me tag along for this shoot at the St. Joseph Lighthouse. The wind was blasting us from the north making this a very long flight out to the lighthouse. I used most of my battery to get there, but luckily the wind would blow the drone right back to me. It was a fun day making some cool pictures of the waves crashing over the break. This was one of my favorite aerial photos from that day.

6. This photo was part of a greater learning experience. I was flying my drone over the Ohio River early one morning when it started acting wonky. I kept my composure and brought it back to me. I was not near anyone so there was never any danger other than the drone could fly into the river. I checked everything and it seemed okay. I then made a quick flight to make this photo of the Queen City. Of course being a baseball fan I found the coolest thing to put in the foreground of my photo.

5. My favorite shoot of the year had to be photographing the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse with my drone. The sunrise was prolonged by the cloud cover giving me plenty of time to make the photos that I wanted to make. Here is a photo that I would have been proud of no matter what, but it was eclipsed by one that will show up later in the countdown. This is still a fun photo for me. You can view my video as I made these photos by clicking here.

4. Early in the year I made many photos over the Wabash here near Lafayette. Later in the spring I made this one over the Wabash in Terre Haute. I love the lines here, and it has been a favorite since the day that I made it. It was part of a fun day hanging out in Terre Haute.

3. This is what I want to do more of in 2018. I love how simple this overhead shot is. It is a just a tree in the flooded Wabash River here in Lafayette. With nothing around it I had a great time making this composition. It is so simple yet so cool.  I don’t want the Wabash to flood again, but if it does I will be there to document it again.

2. This was one of those photos that was all about luck. I went up with the drone to shoot the sunset in the other direction. I always preach about looking away from the sunset, and here I was rewarded. This amazing cloud had a rainbow going through it. The cloud was moving like a crashing wave which was also very cool. Without my drone I would not even have known this was going on let alone have the ability to photograph it.

  1. This is another simple picture made with my drone. This was during a fun shoot at the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse this past year. The fishing boat at first was a distraction that I had thoughts of removing in Photoshop. When I got home though I realized that I would never remove that boat. It is part of what makes this a cool photo. How Chicago could look so tropical is crazy to me, but it really does here. I would love to fly somewhere that actually is tropical because the photos would have to be amazing.

So that is it. My seventeen favorite quadcopter shots from 2017. Did you have a favorite? Did you like any type of shot better than the others? Leave me a comment and let me know. This week I plan on putting out a new ‘best of’ post everyday. The year 2017 was a fun one for me, and I like to celebrate that with a look back on it.

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