Tag Archives: Drone Girl

My story: why I believe drones can assist with journalism

Photo of Sally French, aka "Drone Girl" by Stuart Palley
Photo of Sally French, aka “Drone Girl” by Stuart Palley

The post below is an excerpt of a piece I freelanced for Investigative Reporters and Editors on Drone Journalism. You can read the piece in its entirety for free online here.

When I told my parents I was using my graduation money to buy a drone, they thought I was crazy.

“Why don’t you buy some camera gear instead?” they told me.

After all, graduating in May with a photojournalism degree means I’d no longer have access to the fancy Missouri j-school equipment locker I’d been spoiled by for the past few years.

But what my parents didn’t understand is that a drone is the ultimate in camera gear.

Imagine airing video about weather patterns impacting geese migration. The live-shot could actually take the viewer flying among the birds. Or how about reporting on a prairie fire? An overhead shot could reveal the path of the fire.

I’ve already done both of those myself through theMissouri School of Journalism’s drone journalism program. I was a member of the program in its first year. The laws and regulations are unclear, and none of us were very technical when it came to maintenance, so most of a time we didn’t know what we were doing. But that’s a good thing. The cool thing about pioneering something like a drone research program in a university setting is we could learn about this stunning new technology, yet we didn’t have the pressure of deadlines or financial limitations that a traditional media outlet would have.

And we thought what we were doing was legal, since we weren’t making a profit from it. Turns out, the FAA thought otherwise, as it recently sent a letter requiring the program to cease outdoor flight. I’m sure the FAA has the best intentions – after all, a drone recently fell into a crowd at a bull run, and another drone hit a groom during a wedding photography session. There certainly is a need for regulation.

But drones are here to stay, and people will continue flying — regulated or not.

Read the rest of this post over at the Investigative Reporters and Editors blog.

Find Drone Girl elsewhere on the web

droneinstagram

Can’t get enough of Drone Girl? Eh, I’m willing to bet you can. But if you absolutely, positively can’t, then find me on Twitter and Instagram!

Check out my Twitter account, @TheDroneGirl, to get links to some of my top blog posts, as well as links to other relevant drone stories in the news, and the most up-to-date information on where Drone Girl is flying next.

For photos posted here (as well as some bonus, never-before-seen images) in vintage, vignetted, sepia-toned glory, then check out my Instagram account. It’s my personal account, so you’ll have to put up with lots of sans-drone photos, including many from my kitchen documenting my obsessive cooking habit. But you’ll also get an occasional drone picture thrown in there!

I’m always looking for suggestions, so let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below or through my contact page!

Flight diaries: Catching up with Drone Girl

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 8.58.58 PMAnother week has flown by (no pun intended), and the drone is still going strong. But where is Drone Girl headed next? That’s up in the air.

With another week of flying under my belt, I’ve definitely been thinking more visually now, rather than just using a fancy technology. There should be a purpose for using a technology, and I think drones can put a lot of things in perspective via an aerial view. I’m recently most proud of my golf course photo, which I think accomplishes that. The photo shows the viewer how close the tees are to each other, what surrounds each hole, how large each hole is, etc. That’s something that your standard golf match photo can’t show. I studied photojournalism in college, so now that I’m better at flying, I want to think about good photography practices — visually appealing images (ie the good ole’ rule of thirds, leading lines, etc) that don’t just rely on the novelty factory of an aerial angle.

I’m considering doing video. It’ll take more time and effort, but in the next few weeks, I’m going to experiment with short videos. Stay tuned, and thanks for keeping up with Drone Girl!

Week Two thought roundup

Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 12.06.22 PMIt’s been two weeks since I flew my DJI Phantom on its maiden voyage– crazy that it hasn’t been that long. Anyway, here are my first impressions on the first couple weeks.

Everyone has been so nice and friendly! I’ll be walking through a park and so many people will make a quick comment like ‘cool copter.’ Other times people will ask what is it. And I’ll fly, and then people get interested and ask tons of questions. I love when people ask questions! It’s great to see curiosity and friendliness within the community. People want to ask what I’m doing, where I got my drone, etc. Continue reading Week Two thought roundup

First drone flight

Welcome to The Drone Girl!

BNp_h8NCIAAIwdG.jpg_largeFor my first blog post, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you my first drone flight!

My first flight was Tuesday, June 25. I have experience flying drones through a project I worked on with The University of Missouri, as well as I had a mini drone I practiced on earlier this year, so my first flight went really well.

Tuesday evening, I flew over a secluded baseball field at Colonel Bill Barber Memorial Park, which is right near where I live in Irvine, Ca. That’s a fantastic spot to practice, because there are tons of baseball diamonds to fly over, and the odds of you flying remotely close to people were low (which I definitely want to stay away from people just for extra safety precautions). However, joggers and walkers saw my drone in the sky, were intrigued, and I was delighted to chat with them and show what I was doing! I got really great feedback — one group of young women were med students visiting family in Irvine, and they had tons of questions, which was awesome!

I spent about a half hour out there, practicing safe landings and takeoffs. But c’est la vie, my battery died, so it was time to go home. Where should I practice flying next?