The Lensrentals Podcast Episode #36 – How to Utilize Drones in Any Field with Women Who Drone
Each week Roger Cicala, founder of Lensrentals.com, hosts conversations about the art and science of capturing images. From photography to videography, film, history, and technology, the show covers a wide range of topics to educate and inspire creators of all kinds.
How to Utilize Drones in Any Field with Women Who Drone
Prepare for a longer podcast episode today as we’re joined by four incredibly talented drone pilots as they talk about their experience and businesses in drone photography and videography. Each guest is also a member of Women Who Drone, founded by Elena Buenrostro who is our first guest. Next, we have a photographer and videographer Catherine Aeppel, followed by Buzz My Property owner Emily Hines, and Educators Who Drone founder, Dr. Heather Monthie. Listen in as each guest speaks with Ryan on their own insight and experience, from building education platforms for drone photography and videography, to real estate aerial photography, to even discussing various rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Women Who Drone is an online platform and community of hobbyists and professional drone pilots that work to encourage and educate women on how to become drone pilots. With only 6% of the licensed drone pilots being women, Women Who Drone hopes to create a community to grow that number through a variety of platforms ranging between education and inspiration.
Lensrentals.com’s experience with drones is a couple of years strong now. Renting a variety of different products offered by DJI, we’ve grown our drone fleet considerably since we first started renting the products. We’ve also highlighted some of our experiences on this blog. From Ryan Longnecker’s guest review of the Mavic 2 Pro, to our guide to getting started with drones for a few years back, drones have made for an incredibly exciting tool to add to your arsenal. So listen in on the podcast episode above, to learn everything you’d need to know about drones, from rules and regulations or tools that you can use to become a better pilot.
- FAA Resources
- Elena Buenrostro
- Catherine Aeppel (Instagram)
- Emily Hine
- Dr. Heather Monthie (Youtube Channel)
- Drones in STEM Facebook Group
- The Simple Cybersecurity podcast
- The Discovering Drones podcast
- DJI Osmo
- DJI Mavic 2 Pro
- DJI Inspire
- DJI Matrice
- DJI Phantom
- Skydio 2
- Auto EVO II
- DJI Tello EDU
- Drone Blocks
- Drone Seed
00:55 – Elena Buenrostro is the Founder and CEO of Women Who Drone, and each of the following drone pilots Ryan is speaking with today are members of her organization. Women Who Drone is an international collective of female pilots and their mission is to work through education, content partnerships, and community to inspire more women and girls to take up drone piloting.
1:30 – Through Women Who Drone Elena Buenrostro seeks to inspire, educate, spotlight, connect, and share employment opportunities with the drone community around the world regardless of if they are amateurs or professionals. bought her first drone in early 2017 when she hiked the Great Wall and wanted to capture it from a different view.
3:00 – Elena got her start with drones in 2017 when preparing to visit the Great Wall of China. At the time less than 4% of certified drone pilots were women in the US. Elena started her organization after responding to many questions about how to get started with drones as a way to connect with others with educational resources and each other.
4:50 – In 2020 the number of certified drone pilots in the USA has risen to almost 7%. Seeing a need for representation and education, Women Who Drone members visit schools to show students drone footage and give them the chance to have hands-on experience and interaction with experts who use drones in many different industries.
6:15 – Droning has grown far outside of where it started in the traditional photo and video industries. Mapping, firefighting, farming, irrigation, planting forests, inspecting buildings and infrastructure all have found valuable uses for drones and that
8:00 – All of Women Who Drone’s upcoming online events are available to browse here.
Visit their website, Instagram, and join their Facebook group.
9:00 – Catherine Aeppel is a professional action sports photographer and videographer who’s frequent clients include RedBull and GoPro. Her work is closest to what comes to mind for most people when they think about what a certified drone pilot would typically capture.
9:40 – Started using drones early into her career as a producer and production coordinator as she transitioned into becoming a professional photographer and videographer. As she grew out of production management into shooting herself her love of drones also grew.
12:00 – Ryan sees her background as a production coordinator as very helpful when transitioning into photo and video. Catherine says she surrounded herself with people who she saw were running successful, sustainable business, and who she admired creatively early in her career as unofficial mentors, gaining education and knowledge as she worked.
13:10 – Catherine estimates using drones is about 25% of her work as a tool on a more traditional shoot, not only drone exclusive. As she’s not trying to run a drone specific business she recognizes her competent piloting skills and contracts out when a project requires specialization in an area she knows someone else will be better suited to provide.
14:35 – How does Catherine advise to make your drone work stand out to commercial clients? A base level of photography and video is essential, understanding when to use an ND filter, having a firm grasp of the basics of composition are all needed for a good knowledge base. From time taken to build the actual piloting skills, and discovering what kind of movements are engaging and visually captivating to execute the best visuals for the story being told.
16:50 – Over this past summer Catherine was the DP on a RedBull shoot along with drone pilot Jonny FPV. Excited by the technical challenges they encountered she worked with the post-house team to ensure the settings on the footage captured allowed the most latitude for editing.
18:20 – When combining drone footage with more traditional cinema camera captured footage the transitions back and forth are often jarring but Catherine’s work is noticeably high quality, how does she achieve this? One tip is to shoot in log or log-like settings if your intention is to match that footage with a cinema camera.
20:30 – She’s currently using DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Skydio 2 after transitioning away from the original Inspire. When traveling across the world with other camera gear as well, utilizing small and lightweight drones became increasingly important.
22:30 – Ryan wasn’t familiar with the Skydio 2 drone and Catherine tells him she likes it because of its following capabilities. From avoiding obstacles to tracking subjects, the way it uses AI to chart its flight path is “really spectacular.”
23:20 – If you’re only packing one accessory when using a drone, it must be an ND filter set, and Catherine explains why.
25:40 – Catherine’s advice to beginners is not to limit what you shoot. “The more you fail the faster you know what doesn’t work the next time around. Often what professional from someone who is an amateur is having failed many times is knowing how to get the end result much faster.
Visit Catherine’s website, and get really jealous of how cool her job is when you visit her Instagram.
27:20 – Break
28:00 – Continuing to talk with people in a wide variety of industries utilizing drones Ryan is talking with Emily Hines, is a licensed pilot who left her career as a professional skydiver and now owns Buzz My Property.
28:30 – Emily got started at Buzz My Proper in 2017 as a continuation of a love of all things aviation.
30:20 – Her background in paragliding, and skydiving competitively, gave her a love for flying, but she had to work hard to learn about photography, real estate, and post-production when she got started.
31:20 – Real estate aerial photography has grown tremendously over the last few years Emily sees the and key to staying in business is a professional’s ability to have a diverse set of skills to offer their clients. 3d tours, inside fly-throughs, outside video and stills, and virtually streaming live while showing to clients are all areas she and her peers have begun to offer.
34:00 – An unexpected challenge Emily has encountered is real estate agents’ inexperience in working with drone photographers.
36:10 – Emily grew up in Europe and after becoming inspired after seeing paraglider’s while living in Switzerland during high school she started practicing the sport as well. That grew into skydiving where she competed in the British nationals with her husband in 2006. And after getting her pilot’s license she’d fly her family on adventures across the USA logging several hundred hours. After having her second child drones allowed her to get back into the sky.
39:05 – Emily is an FAA Safety Team Representative working with Influential Drones.
40:00 – Every job is different for Emily, so the focus is to start with a preflight checklist of the equipment, facilities, and weather considerations she’ll be encountering.
41:00 – For real estate, the Mavic 2 Pro is her go-to drone. And then through Influential Drones, she has access to more gear like Auto EVO II, DJI Inspire, DJI Matrice, and even a crop duster!
42:55 – Emily Hine’s advice for beginners is don’t underestimate how much droning entails. Flying is a privilege and should be taken seriously. Do you have a visual observer who is trained? A crew who understands the priorities of the flight?
Buzz my property is located in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey.
46:20 – With over 20 years of education experience, Dr. Heather Monthie has a Master’s in teaching with a focus on computer science, earning her Ph.D. in Information Technology. She founded Educator Who Drone which is a global online community of parents, parents, and pilots that introduces kids to STEM disciplines through drones.
47:30 – In 2015 Dr. Monthie noticed the prices of drones were becoming cheaper and beginning to include software development kids. Seeing an exciting opportunity for teaching engineering, security, FAA laws, aerodynamics, and more utilizing drones, she began the Educators Who Drone Facebook group.
50:00 – Budget, admin support, and physical location all come into play when designing a program for an educational institution. After-school programs, science, and technology spaces where students are learning programming or engineering are all great ways to introduce drones into STEM classes.
51:40 – What is a good age to start integrating drones into STEM education? According to Dr. Monthie, the 4 pillars for integrating drones into STEM education are Teaching students to build a drone, code a drone, fly a drone, and is certified to fly a drone commercially.
54:15 – Drones do what they are told to do, so students are able to see exactly what they programed in action. This helps take the abstract mystery of what’s going on in a computer to life.
55:20 – Beginning with block programming students can use the Tello EDU drone to learn a programming language. Once the fundamentals have been established, students can graduate to Python and other languages and learn more about autonomous flight.
58:40 – The FAA is taking a lot of measures to integrate autonomous flight into the national airspace system. Drones are giant flying computers and you need to be able to understand the environment in which they operating.
59:35 – Dr. Monthis is also writing a course to help others prepare for their certification. It is important to understand drones are operating in the same system that manned aircraft pilots are. So the pilots must understand that environment.
1:01:45 – Who should be certified? Dr. Monthis’ rule of thumb is “if it’s not recreational, it’s commercial”. The FAA doesn’t govern airspace inside of buildings but they do outside buildings. Money doesn’t have to exchange hands for it to be commercial. The FAA has many free resources on this and all drone topics.
1:03:30 – Real-world real experience isn’t required to take the 107 but it’s helpful to know how to read weather charts and watch some videos beforehand. Thankfully Dr. Monthie also has a very educational YouTube channel covering these topics.
Dr. Heather Monthie’s website
Find the Educators Who Drone Facebook group here and her YouTube channel here.
The Simple Cybersecurity podcast and The Discovering Drones podcast
1:07:45 – Credits and Rogers ending quote.
The Lensrentals Podcast is a production of Lensrentals, founded by Roger Cicala. Our production staff includes Drew Cicala, Ryan Hill, Sarah McAlexander, SJ Smith, Julian Harper, John Tucker, and Zach Sutton. Other contributors include Roger Cicala, Joey Miller, Ally Aycock Patterson, Joshua Richardson, and Philip Robertson.
Thanks to Jacques Granger for our theme song.
Articles written by the entire editorial and technical staff at LensRentals.com. These articles are for when there is more than one author for the entire post, and are written as a community effort.