Inside this issue
Joe and Tim Droning On About …
A Look at the World of Aerial Landscape Photography
Professional landscape photographer.
Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.
This conversation between myself (Joe Cornish) and Tim Parkin was one where we hoped to explore the arrival of the drone in landscape photography and try to understand its impact. Tim is an occasional drone pilot, Joe has never even touched one. Our ruminations briefly explore the idea of aerial photography generally, and then quickly run into the impact of drones in their current role in the landscape, and especially in how they have become widely disseminated through photographic competitions. We draw no hard conclusions, but acknowledge that while they have many uses and represent an exciting new frontier in photography there are also drawbacks to consider. We chose to illustrate the article with "drone-like" photographs from both of us plus a couple of historic aerial photographs from the previous century.
Joe Cornish: Well, while drones are still relatively new to me, would it be fair to say that they have already revolutionised landscape photography?
Tim Parkin: Yes, probably. Previously there's been professional aerial photography from planes and helicopters, but the introduction of low-cost drones has definitely democratised aerial photography.
JC: Do you remember Yann-Artus Bertrand? He was one of the pioneers of aerial photography… many people will know his work. It was groundbreaking at the time, especially being shot on colour film. The Earth from Above is a huge volume, and his most famous book; sold over 3 million copies worldwide, according to Wikipedia! It highlights the geography and beauty of the planet; you could argue these are the great purposes of landscape photography. Incidentally, it was all shot from helicopters and hot air balloons. And it probably would never have happened if UNESCO hadn’t sponsored it. Imagine the cost!
TP: Aerial photography has definitely been around for a while, have you seen that classic photograph of a biplane over Edinburgh castle? (Alfred Buckham) Just an extraordinary landscape photograph. That perspective is so surprising.
JC: The other kind of aerial photograph we might be familiar with are those made from hot air balloons, over Africa. The sort of pictures you might find in an article on the Masai Mara in the National Geographic, circa 1978, of elephants, acacia trees, camels, the wildebeest migration etc. Or a desert antelope walking along the ridge of a sand dune with long shadows. Balloons can be quite quiet when the burners are not running!