There might be a day in the future when drones are commonplace, but until then Brian Stewart’s flying contraption can still cause a stir.
Stewart’s specially designed photography drone turned a lot of heads recently whizzing above the headgates of the Augusta Canal.
“They were all kind of amazed,” says Stewart about the reactions he got to his drone. “The first thing everyone asks is how much it costs.”
So far, Stewart has invested almost $2,000 in his equipment, but there are still accessories he would like to have.
The purpose of Stewart’s trip to the headgates was to film a demonstration video for a real estate company that is considering hiring him to shoot aerial video of some lakefront property.
“I’ve only been at it for a couple of months, and I have flown into trees several times, so I was nervous about flying over the river,” Stewart said.
The remote-controlled device performed flawlessly though and Stewart was able to get some dramatic slow-motion video of the headgates and diversion dam.
Stewart used a Phantom II drone and a GoPro Hero3 camera to capture his images. The drone has a built-in GPS unit that links to a satellite that allows it to hover in one position. A gimble mounted to the drone and attached to the camera keeps the camera steady and prevents it from vibrating.
“I can see what the drone sees by using an app on my iPhone,” Stewart said. “One thing I’m planning to add to the drone are some goggles that fit around your face so you can be looking through the goggles and it looks like you are actually in the drone flying it.
Besides being a lot of fun, the drone also has some practical applications.
“I am talking to a car dealer about doing aerials of the cars. I can float right over the automobiles and get a good perspective of the car lot for a commercial.”
Stewart, a freelance artist, recently did a trade with the owner of three condominiums on an island off the Gulf Coast of Florida.
“I did a beautiful painting of some dolphins for them in return for some time in one of their condos,” explained Stewart. “I mounted the camera on a 5-foot pole attached to my kayak and was able to get some great footage out in the ocean.”
He was even able to get underwater video of stingrays swimming in the clear waters.
“I sent the video to the (condominium) owners and now they want me to film the island from the air, showing off their condos,” said Stewart.
There are some restrictions on where you can use the drone.
“I can’t fly above 350 feet according to FAA regulations and you have to get permission to fly over someone’s property,” says Stewart.
The potential uses for the drone appear to be endless. Stewart is talking to the organizers of River Fest about flying over the river and shooting video of all the participants on their makeshift rafts.
“I would also love to film some outdoor concerts,” he said.