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High Altitude Drone Operations - Safety Tips

Drone manufacturers have made drone pilots’ jobs much easier in recent years. You can now get your batteries, props, camera, and drone all from one manufacturer, which greatly reduces the chance of any mishaps or any failures in the drone.

Operating your drone at higher altitudes still presents some unique challenges. As you can imagine, the drone’s capabilities with respect to lift and maneuverability are greatly diminished. High altitude conditions also change rapidly, are home to some of mother nature’s fiercest winds, and are constantly creating cumulonimbus clouds – a big red flag to drone operators. So here are some tips on how to be at your best when flying your drone at high altitude.

Preparing to launch your drone at lower altitudes is something you may not worry about a lot of you are always flying in relatively flat areas. However, when up in the high country, available take off and safe landing areas are much smaller. Often times you’ll be launching on a small roadside with a big drop-off, or even hand launching.

The biggest thing to consider when launching is to ensure you have a safe path home with respect to trees, cliffsides, and most importantly the wind. Always start your drone operations by flying upwind, which is typically going to be up valley in the afternoon and down valley in the mornings if flying in the summer months. This ensures that you will be flying downwind back to your point of origin.

Also, make sure to have put on high altitude props. This may not seem required, but it greatly increases the ability of the drone to manage power output, and to maintain a safe flight. The reduction in lift is greatly noticed when you go above 9,000 feet, and stability when in a hover position is very difficult. Use those high altitude props – DJI makes them for a reason.

Another good thing to consider when flying your drone at altitude is the duration of flight. You need to know that you will only get about 60% flight time at 9,000 feet on most drones like DJI and Parrot as opposed to flying at sea level. So, if you are tracking a car, snowmobile, or skiier across a valley, you need to take special precautions to takeoff and land in close proximity to enable yourself to safely land when your battery is running low.

Finally, temperatures can do crazy things to your battery life. On the DJI Inspire 2, fortunately for those owners, the batteries can be warmed while in flight. However, that doesn’t do much when the drone is just sitting on the ground during setup. Make sure you car is always nearby, and make sure those batteries stay warm at all times, or you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. has been operating drones up to 14,000 feet for years, and are professionals at how to professionally and safely operate while still capturing the required shots and delivering the data to our clients. We look forward to working with you.

Aerial Photography and Video with the DJI Mavic Pro

While small in size and stature, the DJI Mavic surprisingly packs quite a punch. The small sensor doesn’t look like much, but it still produces high quality aerial video and photography.

Aerial Performance

The first thing you’ll want to do is test fly a DJI Mavic Pro. I was surprised at how well it performs in climbs, turns, showcasing amazing stability even in adverse conditions. You can set a variety of flight modes such as tripod mode (a smooth video capture mode), or even timelapse mode.

The standard flight settings under GPS are, as you can imagine, tuned down slightly. Also, when the drone sense the ground or objects in front of it through the front sensor, the drone will slow down without your control. However, if you want to turn the DJI Mavic Pro into a near racing drone, flip over to the “Sport” mode, and get ready for a drone capable of speeds of 45 MPH. The drone can also stay in the air up to 27 minutes at sea level, and can be transported in an incredible small bag.


The DJI Mavic Pro is capable of capturing full 4K video at 24 FPS, and near 4K at 24 and 30 FPS. The sensor is quite small, so if you are flying on a bright day or at twilight, you will notice issues related to shutter speed and noise. The best advice for daytime flying is to get a cheap pack of ND filters, around $9 off of Amazon. These filters will immediately bring the shutter speed down, reduce aliasing, and bring back natural colors to the sky and other harshly-lit elements to your video.

The DJI Mavic Pro does not capture anything near the DJI Inspire 2, but for projects in real estate or construction, the Mavic Pro camera performs admirably, and is an ideal complement to the Osmo Pro for ground footage.



Aerial photography captured by the DJI Mavic Pro has more broader uses than aerial video. The photo quality, shot in RAW or DNG, delivers a 12.71 megapixel photo out of its 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor. These photos are ideal for real estate and inspection work, and allowing a photographer plenty of latitude in post production to bring out fine details without pushing the levels of the photo too far.

The same thing applies related to ND filters. Make sure you are using one to ensure that images aren’t wasted due to harsh light.

The DJI Mavic Pro may not be what sells your work to big clients, but it is the drone that will keep you working by keeping a wide range of clients happy, although at a lower price point. has 1,000’s of drone pilots, operators, and businesses signed up in our network, providing global coverage for aerial photography, aerial video, and inspection work. Find out more at

Denver Aerial Photography: A Guide to finding the Right Drone Operator

Are you hoping to find the right drone operator for capturing aerial photography for your real estate listing? Or do you need an operator to film an event? This guide serves to help you know the crucial information to look for and ask for in the emerging drone market.

Denver, Colorado, just east of the foothills and gateway to the Rocky Mountains, is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. And to anyone who lives in Denver, that’s no mystery.

The skies above Denver show more color and vibrancy than any other major city in the United States. A late summer/early fall evening can boast abundant sunshine and blues one minute, transition to a downpour or lightning storm, give way to snow, and return to a pleasant day the following day.

The most abundant weather pattern in Denver, Colorado, much to the delight of aerial photographers and aerial video guys, is the abundant sunshine and blue sky. This makes production work in Denver at just about any time of year quite enjoyable. You will need to protect yourself from the harsh UV rays, with fewer distance to travel to the surface at 5,280 feet in Denver. You will need a lot of layers of clothing as well, as temperature swings are routinely 50-60 degrees in a matter of 12 hours.

Outside of the weather, here are some key criteria for looking for the right aerial photographer in Denver, Colorado:

  1. Remote Pilot’s License: This stands as a key anywhere, but it’s certainly an important thing for any operator to have in a major urban area like Denver. Within only 10-20 miles or so from the downtown of Denver are several Class D airports to go along with Denver International Airport. An operator with advance knowledge to ensure you won’t be hiring someone who is risking flying in that airspace, and to properly advise you of the legal ramifications of your location are a must have.
  2. Experience: This sounds like someone who has a lot of “hours” flying a drone, but that’s not the case. Experience means someone who has flown in tough environments while on a project. This does not mean a hobbyist who has flown at the park every weekend, capturing his dog running across the field or his friend driving donuts in his car. No, those are instincts that are best left no where near any professional aerial photography or video scene. Experience relating to someone who has worked in a location and done consistently quality and safe work is also a must have.
  3. The Right Attitude: Similar to the risk-taking attitude statement above, having the right attitude is a very important attribute. A drone operator that does not take direction well, or that does not communicate well with the other people on a shoot is not someone you want to work with. This can often times ruin the execution of shoots leading to poor results. Or, it can cause tension between a director and a drone pilot. The right attitude is someone who is intently listening, providing professional feedback, and is very clear with the safety limitations of his or her drone.
  4. Local Knowledge: Local knowledge is why exists in the first place. So many times we’ve heard from production coordinators that have brought drone operators with them and have then had an issue with a certain location, or in finding the right location at all. Local knowledge to Denver and Colorado means that the efficiency with which you work is greatly increased. No extra time is needed to scout when landing, and permits and waivers can be taken care of in advance, utilizing sometimes existing waivers.

Remember, does not charge you a dollar to speak with us, get recommendations on the right drone operator for you, and in any location in the world. If you’re looking to hire a drone photographer in Denver, Colorado, get in touch with us and we will get you started.

Guide to Aerial Architectural Photography based in Denver, Colorado, specializes in working with architects to provide the best high resolution photography that can be used for architectural renderings, proposals, and even for simply office artwork. In order to perform the best in aerial photography, we follow a few simple steps:


This may come as a no brainer, but one of the biggest problems we still face in the drone industry are aerial photographers overlooking true quality photography in lieu of their new found Remote Pilot’s license. In other words, “drone operator” is not a profession in its own right, but it is simply a title given to someone already professional in photography who no flies a drone.

In order to do photography capable of holding up during editing, you’ll need RAW or DNG photos coming from your camera. And, the best camera out there with the most reliability and largest base of users is the DJI Inspire 2 with the X5 camera. You’ll be flying a quality sensor with 5K video capabilities and 20 MP camera capabilities.


The best photography still depends on the critical eye of a photographer, and that photographer should be most concerned with light. This means the angle and track the sun is on in relation to the building you are photographing, as well as understanding your surroundings with regard to shadows, your latitude and sun angle, and also how this is all affected by the seasons.

In some cases, you may need to call a shoot off if the lighting doesn’t allow, there is cloud cover and precipitation, or if you missed the right time of day. In Denver, sunshine is aplenty, so we know that most days if you get early morning light you can keep your shoots quite consistent with respect to light. However, in many other parts of the country like Chicago, Boston, and New York, we have to keep an eye on the weather constantly.

Post production can enhance the end result, but lighting is still extremely important to a quality photograph.

Post Production

As mentioned previously, while lighting is the most important difference between a good photo and a great photo, a photographer who possesses master level skills in post production will be a difference maker in the end result.

Many clients ask for unedited raw images, however our studio in Denver, Colorado processes hundreds, sometimes thousands of photos a week and often times fully edited. Batch editing quality photos is a skill derived from understanding how to masterfully collect many different looks, styles, and functions that capture the highest quality image.

The preferred software program for cataloging photos is Lightroom, while Adobe Photoshop is the preferred method for doing the final editing touchups. When used appropriately, the client can get a proof sheet from Lightroom that is then taken into Photoshop for the final edits.


Occasionally, an amateur photographer will be able to capture a quality image, even edit it in a professional manner. However, over time, the results varying means your project will suffer, and ultimately you’ll need to look for a new aerial photographer. And it’s a waste of money to hire a photographer that won’t deliver the same, consistent, high quality result. ensures that the photography you receive, across the nation and into many international locations, will always be the same high quality result. Our professional operators understand the best equipment, lighting, and our production studio in Denver, Colorado ensures that you’ll always receive the best edited, consistent photography.

The City Drone Solution

So much of hiring and utilizing drones and capable pilots has centered around individual job hiring and deliverable. A client is looking for a shot of their property, or a production company needs an aerial guy for a particular shoot. The aerial operator shows up, unpacks their equipment, mentions (and proves if necessary) their legal authority to fly by way of 107 or 333, and off they go, moving the drone around to capture photo/video that will be later edited by someone.

This particular job hiring model may soon seem archaic in the near future.

The next step that drone operators and pilots must make is finding out how to prove that they have higher-level capabilities that can be performed redundantly. That can mean producing the identical position shot over and over again for a construction company, or by providing the same metadata around a shot that is being used for mapping and/or modeling purposes. A partnership with advanced software designed for this particular capability is crucial. has been working on this model recently to advance the technical expertise of our existing drone pilot database. Drone operators are busy keeping up with the new job requests they get, or competing in their region for advertising space, attracting the same and new clients. It’s difficult to have the time to stop and plan for a much larger contract.

We’d like to introduce the Site Spy integration

My leveraging our existing drone pilot database, along with customizing proven survey quality software, is creating new value that is attracting the interests of businesses and municipalities alike.

Imagine you’re a city in a place like Oklahoma. You have all 4 seasons, which means that you’re dealing with harsh winter and hot summers. You’ve got just about every major natural disaster with tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, and major flooding. And, like any major municipality, your budget is always being adjusted to ensure that value is being added to the city and that members of the community feel like there are improvements being made.

There’s so many ways a municipality, city, or township, could help create a whole new analytical perspective to the city’s needs, while also physically showing the community that they are constantly making improvements.

The drone program ties into a custom ticketing system that can be used by all city employees. These can range from Public Works, to the Streets Department, Water, Police, Fire.

Yuneec-Q500-G_2-800x576A drone pilot under contract would be authorized to go to the location to report upon real-time events, or to deliver preliminary data of an infrastructure issue. A pared down version of this database would be available to the general public to gain better knowledge into real-time events in their city.

Furthermore, contractors hired by the city would be much easier to manage and near or at budget for their work. Rather than justifying large construction costs, our software would make it easy for departments to articulate real cost figures and ensure that the contractors understand that these must be met.

So get ready for the cities of the future. They’ll almost certainly have drones buzzing overhead.