Drone on for the love of design
Changing your perspective helps you find new creative solutions. Could aerial images captured by a drone flyby help you plan your landscape or make changes or additions to your garden?
Richard Denesiuk is a skilled photographer who has taken countless photos with many types of cameras including smartphones and tablets. Former Managing Director of Creative Retirement Manitoba, Denesiuk was also editor-in-chief of Prairie Garden for nine years, an annual publication that features numerous photos of prairie gardens and landscapes. Well versed in image editing software, Denesiuk took up a new challenge: how to fly a drone.
This year, Denesiuk logged 13.1 hours and 36.6 kilometers in 126 flights. To develop his skill in flying, he visited several different gardens last summer. It was a learning experience for Denesiuk and a unique opportunity for garden owners.
Denesiuk flies a DJI Mini 2 drone that offers up to 30 minutes of flight time. Compact and ultralight, it weighs only 249 grams. Micro-drones are drones weighing less than 250 grams. According to Transport Canada, micro-drone pilots are not required to register their drone or obtain a drone pilot certificate. In Canada, drone flights are regulated by Nav Canada which oversees all air traffic in Canada. Drone pilots must obey the appropriate regulations regarding the weight of their drone, maintain a distance from passers-by and follow the rules of the airspace.
The same key rules that apply to lighting in more traditional photography also apply to drone image capture, Denesiuk explains. For example, what time of day are the lighting conditions in your landscape ideal? âOn a sunny day, shadow cast by tall trees can cause problems because cameras cannot record brightly lit areas and shaded areas in the same frame,â he says. “If shadows are generally an issue, then an overcast day provides even lighting.” To capture high-quality images, Denesiuk recommends the golden hour – the last hour before sunset and the first hour after sunrise.
Wind is always a factor, says Denesiuk. “Wind can sometimes cause a drone to deviate from its course, and generally wind speed increases with height.” The DJI Mini 2 can withstand winds of up to 37.8 km / h. “And that’s the difference between a toy drone and a real drone,” says Denesiuk, “because GPS satellites don’t control toy drones.” Planting a drone can be a costly mistake. For unmanned aerial vehicle forecast data, including current wind conditions and visibility, he recommends the uavforecast.com website.
This summer, Denesiuk visited the garden of Gosia Barrette, a member of the East Kildonan Garden Club, where Denesiuk volunteers as a judge for the annual EKGC photo competition. Barrette lives in a bungalow and her terrace is at ground level. âIt’s a very flat perspective,â she said, âwith no possibility of seeing it from a bird’s eye view. I was so interested in a drone video because I wanted to have a full view of all of the space. to be able to play with where I thought improvements or additions could be made. ”
Barrette’s landscape is defined by clean lines, raised flower beds, numerous perennials, and a neatly trimmed alpine currant hedge. âThe still shots were very helpful in seeing where some of the gaps were,â she says. “I’ll be studying video and stills over the winter and my plan for next year is to really spend time filling in the blanks.” But Barrette also says his plan is to focus on planting multiple, say, five different plant varieties rather than many individual plant varieties.
The waterfront property where Tim Evans lives is classified as a restricted area for flying drones due to its proximity to Winnipeg’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. Drone pilots must log into DJI and request permission to fly in this area. Without permission, software even prevents the drone from taking off, says Denesiuk. “Once registered, DJI knows who I am, what type of drone I’m flying, where I’m flying, how high, etc.”
Denesiuk uses a Samsung Galaxy tablet with an eight-inch screen that he connects with a cable to the controller that flies the drone. When the drone was no longer visible as it hovered over Evans’ heavily forested property, the tablet showed the footage it was capturing. Evans says he was very impressed with the aerial views of his landscape. After studying the video and photos, Evans plans to add taller shrubs such as Euonymus alatus Burning Bush which has brilliant red fall foliage as well as more purple foliage, a nice contrast to the more 100 hydrangeas he grows in his garden.
The drone footage also provided Evans with a bird’s eye view of his canopy of mature trees starting to show signs of water stress, especially in the crowns of his birch trees and the upper branches of oak trees.
Robin and Annette Cadzow live year round at Booster Lake located in Nopiming Provincial Park, about a two hour drive from Winnipeg. Denesiuk captured aerial footage of their raised vegetable patch as well as bush areas on their property. They were thrilled to have aerial footage of their property which has already won the Manitoba Good Roads Association Burgess Shield Award. After viewing the footage, he and Annette decided to add planters to their patio next year and grow Concord grapes because this area gets a lot of direct sunlight.
âWe had been on forest fire alert all summer and our bug out bag was ready to roll,â says Robin. The drone footage made it possible to see the fatal fall in the bush, says Robin, who studied the footage closely to see if there was anything that could pose a fire hazard.
When Denesiuk flew his drone over my front yard, the aerial view helped me realize I needed to add more color. Within a week, my Double Fernleaf peony, which has only a short flowering period, and a flowering Moonrock hydrangea, emerged.
It is now common for real estate agents to use drones and powerful 360 cameras. Drones are also used by landscapers. Keith Lemkey, Lemkey Landscape Design Ltd., uses drones for before and after photos. A drone provides a better perspective of a landscaped space, Lemkey explains, and allows the designer to instantly remember the layout. “We can better see adjacent sites, neighboring trees, and views from neighbors’ windows which are to be privatized.” The visual appeal provided by a drone, says Russ Penny of Netley Creek Landscaping, is also useful in planning a site for a heavily forested landscape, which can make it difficult to take an exact measurement.
Denesiuk is eager to expand his awareness and develop his flying skills. âThe low, slow shots across an arbor or along a path or stream seem a bit dreamlike or like butterflies – that’s what I really enjoy,â he says. The one- to two-minute, four or five-frame videos are immersive and can make you feel like you’re there.