In the Drone Zone


Say what you want about the use of drones creating an infringement on our Constitutional rights, invading our privacy via the Fourth Amendment or bombing targets in the Middle East indiscriminately (just get the terrorists; let any innocent deaths be on their consciences, if they have any), when it comes to the world of photography, they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I was sent this past Sunday to cover the New Jersey Sharing Network’s 4th Annual 5K Walk/Run at their headquarters in New Providence.  A local woman who had received an organ transplant was participating in the run.  My assignment was to interview and photograph her.

As I walked down Central Avenue, I realized why the name N.J. Sharing Network seemed so familiar.  I’d been rattling my brains trying to remember where I’d heard that name.  On my left, as I walked towards their headquarters, was my hated former employer’s office building.  I seethed as I passed by the windows where my cubicle was located, in the depths of Office Hell.

New Jersey Sharing Network headquarters was across the street.  Back in the day, they used to hold health fairs right around this time of year for all the office workers on Central Avenue.  My employer, and in particular, my supervisor, was so suspicious, so pecuniary, so controlling, so – not even micromanaging, but hypermanaging – that we practically had to hold hands crossing the street.  Our orders were to march across the street, pick up whatever it was that NJSN was handing out, and return without stopping, not even to thank the NJSN representatives.

They looked upon us pityingly and seemed to understand all too well.  I felt like pleading with them to hire me.  Please!  At least they were human.  Eventually, I would work for a more humane employer and not only did I get to stop and talk with people, but write about those people and take their photos.

On Sunday, I returned – now only marginally employed – but at least my employment was something more creative and human (I hissed at the building as I passed by).

I took lots of pictures and interviewed my subject.  Her tent – every team had a tent – was located right near the finish line.  As it happened, it took her team awhile to reach the finish line.  So to pass the time, I took pictures of other groups coming in, and also watched other photographers taking photos (some of them probably from the same newspaper group I work for).

Then, as I was watched in amazement, a pair of photographers brought in a drone.  The trail of walkers and runners had bunched up like an accordion and it was hard for a ground photographer to get a picture of any particular group.  These two guys just directed their drone over the crowd and dropped it into the rather limited space in front of the group they wanted to photograph.

Whoa!  I thought.  Where can I get one of those!!?  That was great!  If only I’d had one of those about 14 years ago when I first started with the other company.  But we were only just getting used to the new digital cameras.  We were still in the transition from film to digital, and only a small digital at that.  Eventually, we got a digital SLR.  Camera drones weren’t even on the radar of our imaginations at that point.

Imagine all the time saved running after athletes and kids!?  The sports networks are already using these drones for their coverage.  They used them during the Winter Olympics and we were watching a motocross event the other night where the network was using a drone to follow the racers.  Fantastic!

The young, up-and-coming generation of photographers have an advantage because they’ve also been brought up on video games.  They have all the skills necessary to bring their drones in for any shot they need and avoid crashes with other drones.

If I had the money to invest in something, I would be investing in these drone machines.  Whatever other uses they may be put to, for good or ill, they are going to be the future of photography.

Published in: on June 10, 2014 at 5:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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