Selling my First Photo Print on Etsy

It took a while, but on 27th March 2021, I made my first sale of a drone photo print on my DronesDeep Etsy shop.  I was slightly surprised by the photo that was sold.  It was a drone photo of Deal beach taken with my DJI Mavic Mini 1.

The photo was bought by somebody who used to take holidays in Deal during their childhood.  They said that they were delighted to find the photo that I took, on an early February morning.  I was in Deal to take photos of the sunrising behind the Deal pier but I took a couple of shots of the sun lighting up the beach and surrounding hotels and shops.

I have since sold a photo of the Deal pier taken on the same day.  I really need to spend more time promoting and adding new aerial photos to my shop.  I don’t make a lot of money per sale, but it is nice to have customers saying nice things about the photos and my communication.

Personally, I think the white buildings are over exposed in this shot.  This photo was taken using a DJI Mini 1 that did not have the capability to take photos in RAW format, so I had to do the best using the JPG files.

Making My First Drone Stock Footage Sale Via Blackbox

Being able to sell drone stock video footage via the Blackbox Global web site is a neat way of earning some extra cash.  In an ideal world I would love to be able to travel the world with my drone and gather as much drone stock footage as possible and actually earn a living out of it.

However, in the real world with bills to pay and mouths to feed, being able to travel around the world with a DJI Mini 2 is just not possible.  However, I am delighted to say that it is still possible to generate drone footage sales without having to be globe trotter.

This photo of my first drone stock footage video sale is for display purposes only.

I made my first drone stock footage sale via Blackbox Global back in May 2021.  The footage was of the Great Stour running through the Westgate Gardens in Canterbury.  I believe I was flying at a height of 118 metres in that shot.  I’m actually surprised this clip sold at all.  Looking back at it now the sky is over exposed.

It is extremely satisfying to receive money from footage that I have shot in the past.  It’s footage that would be left on a hard drive some where gathering dust.  Now, it is online at various stock video web sites for other people to buy and use.

To date, all of the footage that I have made money from by using BlackBox has been footage that I have edited, uploaded, labelled and tagged myself.  This means that I have not had to share any of the revenue with a curator.  The money I have earned so far this year with Blackbox has not enabled me to give up my day job, but I believe that the more I upload, the more chances I have of making sales.

I am always surprised to see which drone stock video that I’ve uploaded actually creates a sale.  I’ve sold drone clips of everything from The River Stour running through Plucks Gutter, to flying very low over some orchard trees in Chartham.  So it just goes to show that anything can sell as long as it is a good quality clip.

Where Are Good Places To Fly Your Drone in Kent?

Drone Locations in Kent

I’ve decided to make a list of great places to fly a sub 250 gram drone in Kent.  Please bear in mind that these are places you can fly using a drone that weighs less than 250g, such as a DJI Mini 2.  Some of these locations require you fly over residential areas and closer than 150 metres to buildings and built up areas.

Hambrook Marshes, Canterbury

Hambrook Marshes CanterburyWhenever I need to just get out with my drone, I head over to Hambrook Marshes in Canterbury.  It has plenty of space, great aerial views of Canterbury City, The Great Stour River and stunning lakes that all make fantastic subjects to use for aerial photography.  Also, the marshland itself has plenty of texture that make great looking abstract photos.

Crossing the Great Stour is a railway viaduct, so if you are lucky, you might be able to grab a photo of a train crossing the viaduct on its way into Canterbury East train station.  Just be aware of not getting too close to the railway.  Network Rail ask drone users to keep 50 metres clear of the railway lines.

Reculver Towers

Reculver TowersAs I have already blogged about, I think Reculver Towers is the ideal place to gain confidence in flying your drone over water and capturing awesome photos of this historic landmark on the Kent coast.  I have been here many times with various drones., and I highly recommend any drone user to visit here.

I would suggest making the effort to get there very early in the morning if you like sun rise photography.  In early Autumn the sun is in the perfect position to get the sun rising behind the towers.  Equally as appealing is the opportunity for some great sun set photos in the early evenings.

Deal

Deal PierThe Kent coastal town of Deal offers various opportunities for drone photographers.  You’ll get to fly over and around Deal Pier as well as taking some photos of Deal Castle.  Deal beach is a pebble beach, so I also enjoy taking photos and short video clips of the waves rolling over the pebbles too.

I would like to point out that there are plenty of seagulls at this location, so keep your eyes peeled for potential curious seagulls getting close and personal with your drone in flight.  In my experience, flying as high as possible keeps the seagulls at bay.

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury CathedralFor me, getting an aerial photo of the Canterbury Cathedral has been my holy grail.  Ever since I purchased my first drone I had always wanted to get a photo of the world heritage site.  When the drone rules changed in 2021 it made it easier to fore fill this ambition.  It is still a difficult place to take photos of.

One of the main difficulties is finding somewhere suitable to take off and land from AND keep VLOS.  I eventually found a place just outside Christ Church College.  I did have to fly over residential properties, but I remained at least 50 metres above them and was able to keep my eyes on the drone whilst getting a photo of Canterbury Cathedral from above.

Snowdown Colliery

Snowdown CollieryIf you like taking drone photos and videos of abandoned places, then I highly recommend a visit to Snowdown Colliery mine.

Abandoned in 1987, this old coal mine has been left to ruin ever since.  You are not permitted to enter the grounds, but there are plenty of places outside the metal fences that you can take off from and keep VLOS.

There are plenty of abandoned buildings that offer great subjects to get apocalyptic photos and videos of.  You just need to keep an eye out for potential encounters with buzzards that are common in the woodland area surrounding the mine.

Oare Creek

Oare CreekThis is a place that I wished I had visited earlier.  I was amazed that I had never heard of this place before.  It’s one of the best places I have flown my drone.

It has pleasure boats, sunken boats, parts of a dried river bed, and mud flats that easily cause you to use up your batteries before you know it.

I would recommend spraying yourself with insect repellant as it is alive with bugs.  You are able to use a public footpath that runs parallel with the river as a perfect platform to launch your drone.

The River Stour and Great River Stour

I have walked most of the length of the Great Stour and The Stour that runs from its source in the village of Lenham to its mouth at Pegwell Bay, Sandwich.

There are some truly stunning views to capture with your drone following this river in Kent.

You will not only travel through some idilic Kent villages such as Lenham, Wye, Chartham, Grove Ferry, but you will also find yourself in larger towns and cities such as Ashford and Canterbury.

St Margarets Bay

St Margarets BayUnfortunately the White Cliffs of Dover are nested inside a No Fly Zone due the the Port of Dover.  But if you want to get some of the best alternative photos of white cliffs, then I recommend St. Margaret’s Cliff Bay.

It has a very large car park and is usually quiet in terms of people and seagulls.

This location is just a stone’s throw away from Dover, so be sure not to wonder into the Dover Port No Fly Zone.

Fordwich

Fordwich in KentThe Kent village of Fordwich makes an interesting place to take aerial photos of.  It is a very small town.  It was always referred to as the smallest town in England due to it having a town hall.  With the Great Stour, Fordwich Lakes,  and old bridges, Fordwich has a wealth of drone photography opportunities.

There is also a canoe hire company that uses a stretch of the Great Stour which make something interesting to film if you let people aware that you are flying nearby.

 

Do you have any other suggestions where I should fly my drone.  I’m always happy to hear about other peoples recommended place to visit with a drone.  Send me a message via my Drones Deep Instagram account.

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How to Fly High with a Drone

Flying High with a Drone

I’m often asked, and I often see social media posts from new owners of drones asking how long it takes to get the courage to take a drone to the maximum height of 120 metres (400 feet) in the UK.  I’ll be honest and say that it took me about 4 months to take my old Phantom Vision 2+ up to that height approximately 7-8 years ago.

Flying High with a Drone

The Phantom Vision 2+ always seemed as though it was going to fall out of the sky at any moment.  It felt heavy and bulky by todays standards.  It took me a while to trust the technology before finally reaching the maximum height for a drone flight in the UK.  I think that it’s the technology that you need to trust rather than your flying skills.  With the DJI Mini 2, I was flying at maximum altitude on the first day I received it.  The light and agile nature of this drone gave me confidence straight away and I had no hesitation in climbing as high as the CAA drone rules allow.

Looking back now, I still ask myself why it took me so long to gain the confidence in flying at 120 metres with my old drone.  I still think it was just the thought of it crashing to the ground held me back.

What could go wrong?

There are a few things in my mind that could go wrong when flying as high as you are allowed.

  • Is the battery connected properly?  Did you make sure you inserted it correctly?  If the battery loses connection to the drone, there will be a power failure and it will come crashing to the ground.  No return to home mode is going to rescue you.
  • A bird strike.  You could be VERY unlucky and get attacked by a large bird of prey or worse, a seagull.  In my experience the higher I fly, the less I get pestered by birds.  I have never had a serious encounter with a bird in the sky, but I have seen plenty of seagulls and buzzards take a curious interest.  I find that simply pushing the drone higher (as long as you’re not already at maximum height) deters any bird coming close.
  • Software/hardware failure.  Yes, even though I trust the technology not to let me down, there is always the possibility of something going wrong in the brains of the drone or a propeller blade detaches. The latter is avoidable if you do a correct propeller checks before take off.
  • Last and by no means least, there is always the risk of pilot error.  Keeping VLOS on a small drone such as a the DJI Mini 2 is difficult at times.  Taking your eye off the drone for a few seconds can be enough for you to loss sight of it and panic.  My advise at this stage is always to stay calm, point the camera straight down at the ground and figure out where the drone is from that angle.

Conclusion

So to round things off, I would say that there is no rush to send your new drone to the maximum height.  Take your time to get used to the controls.  Gain confidence as a drone pilot and trust the technology to do what it is supposed to do.

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Drone Instagram Accounts To Follow

Instagram logo cropped for Wordpress

As somebody who really enjoys posting drone photos on Instagram on a regular basis, I wanted to create a drone specific blog post listing some of my favourite drone Instagram accounts.  I am also going to list the drone hashtags that I follow to.  Following drone hashtags has helped me to discover other great drone instagram accounts over the last few years.

Instagram logo cropped for WordPress

Drone Instagram accounts to follow:

DronesDeep (me obviously)

Drone Photography Bible

Photo Wave

Warwickshire Drone

SEUAVO

Fly with Fabi

Drone hashtags to follow to discover other fantastic drone instagram accounts

#dronesphotography

#droneslife

#dronestragram

#dronesofinstagram

#dronesdaily

I hope you find this drone related Instagram blog post useful.  Please feel free to message me on Instagram if you would like to be added to this list.

Aerial Photos of Saxon Fields Housing Development in Canterbury

I was contacted by the local newspaper who want to use some of the drone photos that I took of Saxon Fields housing development in Canterbury.  They said that they would be happy to credit me in the article.  I asked them if they could credit my Instagram account rather than using my real name.  I’m was hoping that now that the news article is published, I will gain some more drone instagram followers.

Saxon Fields Canterbury Housing

The photos they used were taken using a DJI Mini 2 on a blustery August afternoon.  I drive past this new housing development on a daily basis and have been meaning to take some photos of the building work for quite a while.

It’s great to see my photos being used by the local newspaper.  My only disappointment is that they have not actually created a clickable link to my DronesDeep Instagram account.  They have simple added “Picture: dronesdeep, Instagram”.  I suppose that is better than nothing I suppose.

I did offer to supply them with additional video footage that I took at the same time, but so far they have not taken me up on the offer.  I’ll be revisiting this housing development from time to time to record the progress of the Saxon Fields Housing Development in Canterbury.

Can You Make Money with a Drone?

Ever since I bought my first drone in 2014, I have been trying to make money flying my drone.  To be honest, I did have a gap of about 2-3 years when my work life interrupted my drone life, but I have to say that I am still chasing the dream of making money out of my drone.

Make Money with a Drone

The short answer is YES you, can make money with a drone, but how much money depends on your photography/videography skill as well as the amount of time you have to devote to marketing and promoting yourself.

Obviously, if you are a top class experienced drone pilot with all the drone qualifications in the world, then there is always a possibility that you could be a drone pilot in Hollywood, filming some big budget films.  I would presume that would be a full-time job and you could earn a living being the go-to drone pilot on the film industry.

But for mere mortal drone hobbiest, actually making a living with a drone is a tall order.  There are various revenue streams that we can explore, but again I go back to what I said earlier, you need skill and time to make a proper living from it, in my honest opinion.

Drone Stock Footage

If (like me) you have a lot of drone footage on hard drives that you’ve never actually put to any use, then one way of making some drone money would be to submit it to the various stock video outlets on the internet.  Such web sites such as Pond5, Adobe Stock or Shutterstock are easy to sign up to and upload your drone clips to.  Personally I would recommend using BlackBox to upload your clips.  Uploading to BlackBox enables your clips to be uploaded to all the popular stock video outlets at the same time.  You will sacrifice 15% of the commission you earn, but the amount of time BlackBox saves, it is a price worth paying.

Selling Drone Photos

If you think your drone photography is at a standard that people would be happy to pay for, then you can easily set up a photography print shop on a platform such as Etsy.  I have have successfully sold two photos via Etsy without any promotion or marketing.  I’m hoping to devote a lot more time to selling photo prints in the very near future.

YouTube Drone Channel

If you believe that you have the skills needed to be a drone pilot and you are able to edit your videos for YouTube, then you can set up a drone YouTube channel and maybe make a little bit of money if you are able to grow a very large audience.  I believe that this is getting very difficult these days.  There are so many drone channels out there it is difficult to make a dent in it.  However, if you have the right presenting skills and have the time to keep up with the latest drone news, I think that there could still be a chance of making a success of a new droning YouTube channel.  I think just showing off your drone footage is not enough to grow a loyal YouTube audience.

Conclusion.

So, yes, there is the chance that you can make a little bit of cash from your drone.  But realistically it will be pocket money rather than money that will make you rich…I wish I could prove myself wrong!

Finding the Right Blackbox Curator for YOU

I have now decided to get as much drone footage as I possibly can online if the hope of selling it as stock footage.  After experimenting with uploading stock footage manually to Adobe Stock and Shutterstock, I have now decided that it actually DOES take too much of my time.

Blackbox Global Curator Advice

So I have settled on the idea of just getting out and about with my DJI Mini 2 and getting my footage edited and uploaded by a curator.  This means that I will be taking a hit in the pocket by giving away 40% of my earnings, but if it means I get more sales, then I’m sure this is the right path for me.

Finding a good curator was very important for me.  The last thing I wanted was to put my drone videos in the hands of somebody who will waste my footage.  I put a post on the Blackbox Global Facebook group asking for curators to put themselves forward as my full-time curator.  I wanted to find somebody who I could confidently hand over my 4K drone footage and do the rest for me.

I posted a selection of my drone clips with my post so prospective curators can decide whether they would be interested in editing and adding the relevant mega information on Blackbox.  To be honest, I was overwhelmed by the response.  I was flooded with offers to be my curator.

I filtered out some of the guys who could not speak English very well.  I wanted an English speaking curator who would understand the British landscape and title my clips using good structured English.

I eventually settled on a guy who took his time to carefully and precisely explain how his procedure worked.  He also had some YouTube videos showcasing his work that clinched the deal.

I have already sent him some of my drone footage and I am very happy with the way he has titled, tagged and edited the footage so far.  I am very much looking forward to building a partnership with my new Blackbox stock footage curator.

Here are my tips for finding a good Blackbox stock video footage curator:

  • Post on Facebook with samples of your work.
  • Take time to talk to prospective curators.
  • Make sure you agree on a percentage of earnings early on.
  • Try and build a partnership and listen to advice given.

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DJI Helping Farmers with Agras T30 and T10

The news coming out of DJI is that they are releasing the Agras T30 and T10 into the international drone market.  Released into an additional 100 countries around the world, Agras T30 and T10 were developed in partnership with leading farmers to make aerial agriculture even more accessible and convenient than ever before.

DJI Agras T30

Here’s the latest about this news from the DJI Newsroom

The Agras T30 is DJI’s new flagship for digital agriculture. With a 30 litre spray tank, and a spreading system payload capacity of up to 40kg, 16 nozzles, and a spray range of 9 meters, the T30 takes aerial spraying efficiency to new heights and can cover 40 acres in an hour. A fuselage made of carbon fibre composite materials, with a one-key locking arm design helps reduce volume by 80% after folding.

The Agras T10 is a compact yet powerful solution. With a 8 litre spray tank and spray width of up to 5 meters, it can cover up to 15 acres an hour. It’s sturdy and reliable folding truss structure enables convenient transportation and quick deployment.

Safety Focus

The Agras T30 and T10 were built with an unwavering focus on flight safety. They feature spherical radar systems that scan surrounding areas in all environments and weather conditions regardless of dust and light conditions.

Obstacle avoidance systems and adaptive flight functions help further ensure safety during flights. Dual FPV cameras provide clear front and rear views and the searchlight doubles night vision capabilities.

Cloud-Based 3D Farming

With the Smart Agriculture Cloud Platform, users can conduct cloud-based mapping of orchard and farmland scenarios. This platform has an AI recognition system to patrol fields, identify growth, monitor disease or pests, and monitor agricultural conditions efficiently. Pairing this system with the DJI P4 Multispectral allows users to apply solutions based on specific variables according to an automatically-generated farmland prescription map.

Improved Operation

An updated remote controller for the T30 and T10 supports stable image transmission from up to 5 km away2. A 5.5-inch high-brightness screen delivers a clear view, even in harsh lighting conditions. For increased productivity, one remote controller can operate multiple drones at once.

An RTK high-precision positioning module enables centimetre-level operation planning. Additional enhancements include stronger signalling, anti-interference, and operational stability. The new DJI Agriculture app enables a smoother system experience and more intuitive operation.

A newly designed intelligent battery is covered by warranty for 1,000 charges or 1 year; this ultra-long service life significantly reduces operating costs. The smart charging hub can fully charge a battery in 10 minutes, allowing the T30 and T10 to continuously operate with just two batteries and one charger.

Designed for Long Term Service

With three layers of protection over critical components, the T30 and T10 have an IP67 rating (battery excluded), giving them the protection needed for regular use of liquid fertiliser and exposure to dust and corrosion.

T30 Spreading System 3.0

The T30’s new spreading system has a capacity of 40 kg, a flow rate up to 50 kg per minute, a spreading width of up to 7 meters, and an hourly spreading capacity of 1 ton for urea.

It also supports real-time weight monitoring and has an anti-rotation sensor for more accurate refill alerts. When used with DJI digital agriculture solutions, the T30 can implement variable spreading, reducing fertiliser use while increasing yield.

Expanding the Agras Line

The T30 and T10 represent the latest in the storied line of Agras drones. To date in 2021, over 50,000 Agras drones have been sold worldwide. The T30 and T10 will now further build on the DJI Agras success story.

Availability

The T30 and T10 will be available in over 100 countries worldwide including in North America and Europe. For more information on when the T30 and T10 will be available in your region, contact your local dealer. And to learn more about the product features, visit the T30 and T10 websites.

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DJI Mini 3 Rumours are Just Plain Boring Already

DJI Mini 3 Rumours

I’m already tired of the feature rumours surrounding a pending release of the DJI Mini 3.  It really gets under my skin when I see Drone YouTubers bringing out Mini 3 rumours to boost their viewing figures.

DJI Mini 3 Rumours

I actually feel embarrassed for some of these guys.  I’m not going to name the channels that are most guilty for doing this.  I wouldn’t want to give them the attention they are craving.  But you probably know the types.  Middle aged men who are trying to remain relevant by trying to get famous via YouTube, it’s pathetic.

Some of this rant is born from the fact that I have actually fallen for some of the click-bait YouTube thumbnails that already doing the rounds on social media.  Some of the titles for these MINI 3 (SE) drone rumours are so mis-leading, I feel the need to just get this all off my chest.  I would have thought that some of these drone channels would respect the droning community a little more.  I think that placing click bait YouTube links to their made up rumours is blatantly rude and disrespectful.

I would love to be able to make an exclusive DJI 3 Mini YouTube video and announce to the world just what we can expect DJI to add to the Mini sub 250 gram drone range.  But I am not going to lower myself to those standards.  I know full well that if I released a YouTube drone video called “MINI 3 Features Leaked”, and then waffle on about non-related dribble, I would get kicked off most drone Facebook pages.

The worst video I saw doing this was a guy claiming to have leak images of the upcoming Mini 3.  But the image he displayed on the video was a terribly grainy photo of a metal plate that could have been absolutely anything.  He then went on to talk about himself and his other YouTube videos.  That’s my rant over…

What would I like to see from a DJI Mini 3 drone?

I’m find it difficult to think of something that could be added that would improve the MINI 2 without going over the 250 gram limit.  I have heard people crying out for obstacle avoidance sensors, but surely adding those would increase the weight.  A good drone pilot would not need obstacle avoidance sensors, but I can see the attraction if you are a beginner.

I’m more interested in the speed of setting up my drone to fly.  If that could be improved some how, that would be great.  I do get frustrated at times by the length of time it takes to get the MINI 2 up in the air once I have arrived at location.  It’s nothing that major really, it’s not the end of the world.  Being able to use a Mini 3 without the need of a separate cell phone would be a nice touch.  A smart controller would be a game changer for me.

I’m not really interested in quick shots or obstacle tracking either.  I would much rather feel the satisfaction of getting a great drone shot through my own skill than rely on automatic software that basically flies the drone for you.  I can literally hold my hand on my heart and say that I have never used a quick shot in my droning life!

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