I’ve shot Ringstone reservoir many times including a sequence of intimate icy landscapes and even some video footage. I did shoot a few aerial stills there about a year ago but haven’t since returned with the drone.
Gentle winds and a bright sunny start to the day here in Elland, saw me out of the house and parked alongside the reservoir before 7am on Saturday eager to shoot a panoramic or two across the blue water.
Except for one thing. Conditions at the reservoir, less than fifteen minutes from my front door, were completely different to those at home. Windy, cold, no sunshine and just general greyness. I’ve noted this phenomenon in relation to weather conditions before of course but it still wrong-footed me.
Undeterred, I got out of the car, set the drone up and fired up the DJI app. As I always do in these situations I took the drone up to around sixty feet, keeping it above solid ground rather than the water, and watched it as it hovered. Even without the “high wind velocity” warnings popping up on the screen I could see the drone rocking and rolling in the wind. For my planned panorama I would have the drone at no more than one hundred feet but I would be hovering above the middle of the reservoir. What to do?
Having recently flown the drone in the rain on a similarly windy morning I’m a lot more confident of its abilities. I’m not, however, careless so initially considered a different composition that would enable me to keep the drone above the foreshore.
In the event I took a good look around and realised that much of the view would be comprised of murky, dullness. At which point a sudden gust of wind gave the drone a nasty swipe which was clearly visible in the point of view video on the screen. The manual doesn’t recommend flying in winds above 20mph and checking the weather app suggested that winds were gusting at around 25mph which accounted for the side drift (which was quickly corrected it has to be said). I was reasonably sure the drone could handle the conditions.
If the light had been better I would have tweaked the composition and given it a go – nothing ventured, nothing gained and generally the winds would have been within the manufacturers tolerances especially if I kept below 100 feet (bearing mind this location is more than 800 feet above sea level). However, with the prospect of a dull image I decided that discretion should apply – I will save the riskier shots for days when the light and conditions suggest that a fabulous landscape image is possible.
So, a frustrating trip really but it makes sense to stay if not within then at least close to the comfort zone when there’s a risk to that expensive piece of kit. The comfort zone will expand with experience; I’m just thinking about how I’d have reacted twelve months ago and I doubt I would have even got out of the car then!