Ever since I saw the very first drone video on YouTube, my immediate thought was how I would love to fly a drone over the top of the Canterbury Cathedral. However, 8 years ago when I bought my DJI Phantom Vision 2+ I soon discovered that it would actually be illegal to fly over the world heritage site. I think it would have been breaking nearly every rule of the drone code in 2012.
However, things have changed since then. In 2021, and armed with a sub 250g drone I am now able to fly over build up area’s and get closer than ever before to the historical landmark. I have tried many times in vain to get a photo of the cathedral, but I have never been able to get close enough to get a photo that I would be happy to display. I can only think of a handful of places within the Canterbury City walls where I can now legally take off and land from, AND still I am not close enough to get the photo I really want.
The other factor that I keep forgetting about is the placement of the sun when I try and get photos of the cathedral. In the past I have been guilty of shooting straight into the sun and over exposing my photos. But with the DJI Mini 2 RAW photo capabilities, I was hoping that I would be able to correct this in Lightroom/Photoshop. But I have to admit, I’m still letting in too much light. I have to learn to position myself with the sun behind me. This will help give as much natural light on the cathedral as possible. Even if it means that I should get in the car and drive to a completely different location, then I should learn to just do that.
Even with the restrictions regarding flying over build up area’s with a sub 250g drone, I was still very nervous about flying the Mini 2 over the Canterbury city centre. I’m very keen to always keep VLOS with the drone, but because of it size and colour, it is very difficult to actually see it in the light blue February skies. I am also aware that there are a few contraction cranes dotted about around the high street. So, basically I’m not getting any closer to the Cathedral at all. Unless I grow a pair and actually send the drone further than VLOS then I might get closer, but I might loose the drone all together.
The locations that I tried to get closer to the Canterbury Cathedral with a DJI Mini2 were, Kingsmead Leisure centre car par (no cars there during COVID lockdown), Kingsmead Coach Park, St, Radigand’s car park (closed) and finally a brief flight from the Dane John park.
On my way back to the car, I even had to walk passed the Cathedral gates. The main gates are closed at the moment due to the COVID lockdown, but I could see some officials inside. I thought about just asking politely if I could go into the Cathedral grounds and get the closest video possible. But I didn’t have the bottle. Plus I have heard a story that there is a peregrine falcon that lives in the bell tower and has attached other drone users in the passed.
So, will I try again? Of course. I’ll have another scout around the outskirts of the Canterbury city walls to find somewhere with a different angle with sun behind me. Also, it is very rare that the Canterbury Cathedral has no scaffolding on it. So it would be very difficult to get a great photo of the Canterbury cathedral without the scaffolding for the foreseeable future.