Tree in flooded Awatere River, Middlehurst, NZ
DJI Mavic Pro 2, f2.8 @ 1/120 second, ISO 100

As we continue to spend time on our passion, it surprises me how often you can find a new way of doing something - like photography. Sometimes it's just a change of attitude or perhaps being influenced by another artist or photographer. It can also be a change or development in technology and there's no doubt AI is really going to move things along (especially with Adobe's new Structure Reference addition to Firefly). However, I'm still catching up with technology that's been around in an affordable guise for a decade or more: the drone.

As someone who enjoys aerial photography from a plane or a helicopter, the drone with its legal height restrictions and wide-angle lens is left lacking if I'm trying to replicate what I'm already doing. On the other hand, with a change of approach I've found the drone to be incredibly useful in finding different viewpoints in the landscape.

I can remember Les Walkling telling me how he and his friends would drive out into the country with a tall step ladder strapped to the roof racks. When he found a scene he'd like, the ladder would be erected and tied down for stability, following which he'd attach his 8x10-inch view camera to a tripod head which had been affixed to the top of the ladder. Why? Because that extra metre or so of height transformed what we normally see as humans. It created a point of difference for his work.

The reason we love aerial photography isn't because they are taken from the air, it's because they are taken from a vantage point we don't encounter all the time (unless you're a pilot, of course - but you get what I mean). Putting his camera on the top of a ladder did the same thing for Les, permitting a camera angle we don't see all the time.

With the drone, it's like having lots of step ladders in all sorts of places. It allows you to explore subjects from different angles and yes, those angles are aerial, but it's the difference that is the point.

Last year at Middlehurst, heavy rains had swollen the Awatere River which runs along the property's border and trees that are usually sitting on the river's bank found themselves in deeper water. What I liked about this angle with the drone is that I could isolate the tree against a bend in the river, without the surrounding mountains (as wonderful as they are). Strong photos are usually quite simple in terms of their subject and composition. Hopefully this one makes the grade. If not, I'm sure Tony Hewitt will give me some pointers later this year when we return to Middlehurst!