Amateur drone photographer off to a flying start

Luke Keesmaat has owned a drone for four months. In his spare time he flies as much as he can. Drone class.

“I‘d been considering buying a drone for 6 to 12 months beforehand.”

The 30-year-old marketing officer from Albury is keen to take his video skills to the next level.

“I’ve always done video as a hobby. I work with a university so I do video for them occasionally. With my job, I’m hoping to be able to incorporate that into what we do.”

And frankly, he’s surprised at the results. 

“The weir [Lake Hume] – it kind of impressed me. I wasn't expecting to it look so epic. It almost looked like something out of a movie."

Imposing structures and drones go beautifully together and Luke has captured this at 1:21 when the drone scales the weir floodgates.

All up this package took Luke about a day to put together. He chose a quiet afternoon to go out to Lake Hume and was there for an hour and a half. Then there was a few hours editing time. Luke uses the video editing software Premiere Pro but says iMovie is just as good at times and quicker, especially for titles. 

That flying feeling

Luke says seeing things from a new perspective keeps drone cinematography exciting. 

“It’s interesting to get perspectives on things that you ordinarily wouldn't be able to see."

“When I take footage of people's houses - they don't even recognise their own houses. Being able to see things from unique angles.”

Asked if he’s crashed and burned. Luke is the first to admit he has. 

“I haven't had too much trouble. I've had one little crash - it played up once and it crashed into a wall.” 

How much to get started?

There are cheaper drones on the market. These are Luke’s start up costs:

  • Invested between $1,700 and $2,000 for the drone.
  • Uses an iPad mini as a screen.
  • Spent another $500 to $1,000 to get properly set up.

SET UP = $2,300

For Luke the drone decision was about investing in the future.

“I didn't want just get something lower quality and then upgrade. I had the idea in mind to go higher quality and do it for business in the future and not upgrade later.” 

Portability was also a key criteria. 

“I wanted to the ability to take it travelling - it folds up into a little bag and I took it on as carry-on to America and Holland.” 

“The Mavic Pro stood out – you can fold it down and take it with you.” 

Advice for others eyeing off a drone

"Do your research and make sure you are buying the right product for you as it is an investment. Ensure that it is what you want to do and get on forums and discuss with the experts first and work out what you're wanting to do and what your requirements are.” 

And practice!

“I just took it out into an open space and had a practice. That's how I've been learning. There's a lot of stuff online, forums as well where you can get a lot of information so that part is pretty easy.”

Drone licensing and the flying rules

It’s important to note you need a Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) licence if you want to fly commercially and charge clients. 

“I’m in the process of getting a CASA Licence - you need that if you want to do it commercially,” says Luke.  

“The weir is okay because the local laws are five kilometres within the airport and 30 metres from people.” 

“It’s down the track as to whether I do it personally or a longer term goal do videos for other people.”

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