Droning on…

As some fellow Buzzers now, I like playing with drones! I love flying, I can’t afford to fly myself any more, so drones are a pretty good substitute for the real thing (well, motorcycling is probably better, but drones come second to that…)

I’ve been experimenting with different drones for some years now, so took the plunge last year to undertake the training to allow me to become a qualified drone pilot, thus (hopefully) being able to use them for a little bit of commercial gain! So, I’ve been building up my portfolio and decided to offer my services to my local Vicar – surely her churches need a roof inspection and I was quite happy to spend some time photographing them for her as long as I can use the images to build a portfolio and promote my services. As I know all too well (the three churches below used to be under my care when I was last a Parish Priest 20 years ago) if someone offers the church something for free, their hand will be snapped off!

Below are some of the images I have taken in the past couple of weeks in our three local villages. This also gave me a great opportunity to push the limits of two new drones that I recently acquired.

Below is St Peter’s Church, Bishop Norton. A beautiful village church that I see from the bottom of my garden. It’s a challenge to photograph as it’s surrounded by trees, so there was some very careful navigation around the branches with the drones as I sought to get in close. The tree on the left of the image was only 5 feet away, with another to the right just out of shot! This required a dead calm day…

We wanted to check the condition of some of the shutters on the tower, the tower roof itself and one of the stone crosses on the roof. This building is in very good condition – it was certainly the one of the three I used to look after that gave me very little trouble.

A couple of miles or so north lies the village of Snitterby and the church of St Nicholas. It’s a lovely little Victorian Church and was (dare I say it) my favourite when I was the Incumbent.

This building also has trees quite close, so careful navigation was required with the drones and it was harder than I anticipated to get a clear aerial shot of the whole church. There are some problems with the stonework, resulting in increasing damp problems inside, so I aimed to get some detail photographs for the Churchwarden who is having to spearhead a campaign to raise £33000 for repairs. Through using the drone we were able to identify areas of crumbling stonework that is in urgent need of attention… 

The third in the group is St Mary and St Peter’s Church, Waddingham.

This is on my list to revisit for some more detailed close in photos, but the eagle eyed of you will see the flag is quite busy meaning that photos like this were fine, but close in flying in gusty wind was probably not the best of ideas! We did manage one plan profile from above… The High Res version of this image allowed us to zoom in to have a good look at the tiles and all was well. A return visit will involve some close inspection of the stonework around the parapets in particular.

For the technically minded, all the above images were taken with a DJI Mavic 2 Pro, which has a Hasselblad camera with one inch sensor, taking 24mp RAW images. The quality is amazing (and it’s probably the only Hasselblad I’ll ever own!) It is rock steady in quite high winds (as I found out on this, it’s first outing) but turbulence from the trees and the roof does disturb flight a little, so I wasn’t prepared to risk closer inspection.

One of the other drones I fly is a DJI Mini 2, it is tiny, weighs in at just over 240 grams and is an ideal travel drone. It literally fits in one of my pockets. It also has the facility to take 360 degree panoramas, allowing me to play with images like the one below of Bishop Norton. Taken from just 140 ft altitude and then processed through Microsoft ICE. There is also an interactive version to be found here… https://kuula.co/post/7RB5H These are fun 🙂

Thank you for bearing with my droning on – all I need now is to master video editing – I’m open to any offers/suggestions from fellow Buzzers on how to master moving pictures – I can capture them, but editing them is a whole new adventure!!

Published in Member Blogs
  1. Thanks Charles, good read and interesting to see the churches from above.

  2. That is great and shows the advantages of using a drone to do the first recce. Lets hope it all leads to follow on work for you.

  3. Interesting seeing the churches so close up, great pictures. Particularly good timing as I’m considering a drone at the moment, will probably put a question or two in the tech forum.

    • Duncan, I have a drone. Happy to walk up the fields behind the village and show you it in action one weekend.

      • That would be fun.
        I’ve flown my son’s Mavic Air, good fun, just put a post in the tech forum.

  4. Interesting to read and see the photos Charles. A camera club friend is a church warden in Kimpton (in the a lovely village between Luton and Stevenage). She reported that any church within about 10 miles of a motorway down here is having problems with lead theft. Apparently people are using drones to survey for lead on the church roof, and then stealing any appreciable quantities!

    • I know Kimpton – lived in the area before I moved to Lincoln 30 years ago… Lead theft is a problem here as well sadly…

  5. you had me at the title of your story 😉

    really like the 360 image, so that’s bits of earth done – next stop the moon?

    • Oh I wish – that Japanese Businessman is looking for people to travel to the moon with him – wonder if I could get the time off work??

  6. @Charles as I happens I’ve just posted a blog on video editing. Hope you find this useful.

    Love the drone pictures and I’m tempted to get one myself, and go through the hassle of getting a commercial license. As you’ve said though video would be even better than the photos.

    • Hi Shaun. Thank you – I can’t find your blog though 🙁 Doesn’t appear to be listed.

  7. Thanks Charles, very interesting and I will be asking our vicar if they would like a survey of St Mary’s, our local church.

Leave a Reply