RITphoto Aerial Photography and Videography
by Frank Cost

The desire to see the world from above is deeply rooted in human experience. At the beginning of the present decade a breakthrough in technology initiated a new aerial seeing revolution. This was the multi-rotor drone, with four or more rotors, capable of carrying a camera and flying with a precision never before imaginable. Multi-rotor drones have opened up new tracts of airspace for photographic exploration to which no previous technology had such precise and controllable access. For the first time, we are able to place our eyes remotely at any point in the aerial zone lying between the ground and the altitude where conventional airplanes and helicopters can safely fly.

This Fall semester I am teaching a new version of my Aerial Photography and Videography course. The technology has advanced significantly since the first time the course was offered during the Spring Semester 2015. We are using small drones capable of shooting stabilized 4K video and twelve megapixel (3000 by 4000-pixel) still images in either portrait or landscape orientation. According to the new Federal Aviation Association (FAA) rules governing the operation of what they call “small unmanned Aerial Vehicles (sUAVs),” I am required to have a commercial remote pilot license because teaching the course is considered a commercial activity. My students are not required to be licensed, however. They are considered “hobbyists” by the FAA.

This semester we will concentrate on making photographs and videos of Rochester area landmarks. We have developed techniques for creating panoramic images by stitching together multiple frames, and stereo images made by pairing two frames taken from slightly different viewpoints. The panoramic images will be publishing in two forms. Eastman Kodak Company will produce a portfolio of prints on their newest NexPress digital color printing machine. Xerox Corporation will produce a book of panoramic images and another book of stereo images produced by the class.

The course will also prepare students to sit for the FAA Remote Pilot License Examination to obtain a commercial license. This license is required for any photographer engaged in commercial work.

Panoramic view of the George Eastman Museum

Stereo view of the Cutler Tower at the Memorial Art Gallery.

You can see a video of the Eastman Museum by Justin Scalera:

You can see more of Justin’s work 

About Frank Cost
Frank Cost is the James E. McGhee Professor of Visual Media in the School of Photography at Rochester Institute of Technology. He has taught a wide variety of courses in the field of visual media for more than three decades. Frank has been photographing professionally since 1975 and has authored both textbooks and experimental photo books exploring new forms of graphic expression enabled by digital technologies. He can be contacted at frank.cost@rit.edu.

You can see more about Frank Cost on this link