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  • Writer's pictureDavid

Visiting Burghead


Moray, Scotland.

An aerial shot from out at sea looking back over Burghhead
One of the first pictures I took after arriving, looking back towards the town from an altitude of around 90m, sun behind the drone.

I visited Burghead on a chilly November afternoon, a long drive (over 2 hours) from the Arbroath starting point! Arriving later than expected due to a slight Google Maps mishap - I'd entered 'Burghead Bay' which took me past Kinloss Barracks before I realised that I was heading to the wrong destination! The sunset looked promising, and I was afraid of missing the best opportunities for a decent picture.

Luckily the area didn't seem that busy (you don't really want to have too many people near-by) and there was ample room to get parked, grab the required kit, and find a suitable point on the nearby grass.

An aerial view of Burghhead from out to see looking back over the headland.
A slightly different angle, around 100m up looking back at the headland.

I decided to visit following a random request for pictures of the town - I didn't have any - checked on a map and thought it looked like an interesting place!

Flight Restrictions

A map showing air space restrictions
Official Civil Aviation Authority flight restrictions map. Note the dropped pin on Burghhead and the restricted area marked in red around RAF Lossiemouth.

Before the first flight I had checked for any official airspace restrictions as RAF Lossiemouth is not too far away - however, the area is well outside of any restriction. I wish DJI would update their own maps to reflect reality as the controller immediately warned I was in an "altitude zone" as soon as I powered up.

A map showing drone restrictions in the area of Burghhead imposed by the manufacturer
DJI restrictions map for the area, very different!

The flight restriction map as presented by DJI (above), who manufacture the drone, this differs from the official airspace restrictions for RAF Lossiemouth which end well away. The information here is still important as it can stop the drone from taking off or flying in to the marked areas.

Drone Telemetry

A satellite image overlaid with the path taken by the drone during its flight.
Map of first flight

This is the flight path as recorded by the drone (above). The flight log contains lots of information such a battery level, control link strength, GPS signal strength, location/direction of pictures, altitude and distance from home-point at any given moment

Some of the pictures

An aerial view from above the town looking over the harbour area
One of the last pictures before the sun had set. Looking in the opposite direction now from over the town, harbour, and out to sea.

An aerial view from above the headland looking over the harbour
While I was returning to land and change batteries I stopped briefly to catch this boat which I had noticed was making it's way back to port.

With the light quickly fading I managed a few pictures of the harbour area. Flight-time is in the region of 35 minutes (varies depending on how hard the drone has to work against any wind, etc), so it was time to land and change batteries.

An aerial image taking just beyond the headland looking back over the lookout point and towards the harbour.
Back in the air and just in time to capture the rapidly fading light.

An aerial view of Burghhead harbour taken shortly after the sun had set.
The boat I had caught coming back in to port now mooring up, not much light left now!

An aerial view after the sun has set looking back over the town with the streets illuminated by the lights.
The lights of Burghead

When I got back in the air the sun was well and truly set. So it was time to switch techniques to hopefully get some good night-time captures. Low light drone photography techniques were explained to me by fellow drone pilot, and photographer extraordinaire, Ben whose work you should check-out at Tayside in Pictures.

An aerial view over Burghhead looking from the headland and on over the town
A similar picture to the last however this is a combination of a few images.

Above, a similar picture to the last however this is a combination of separate pictures starting off with one looking directly down at the shore and then raising the camera progressively for a couple more. Photoshop is then used to combine the images later to create this. Street and building lights make for interesting aerial photos once the natural light begins to fade. There has to be just enough natural light so the surroundings aren't lost in blackness however! The road running near the centre of the picture right out of town is Grant Street which seems to turn in to St Aethans Road as it leaves town.

An aerial shot of Burghead after dark looking at the maltings industrial area
Burghead maltings. As this is a set of longer exposure images you can see long streaks of car lights now.

Multi-shot pictures are great to capture very wide of very high shot, because the processing is done later it's sometime a bit hit-and-miss. Sometimes the pictures will just not combine in the way planned.

An aerial view of Burghead after dark looking at the industrial complex of the maltings
Another angle on the maltings

Industrial building are often well lit and can look completely different at night than they do during the day. You'll notice on these pictures of the Burghhead maltings some lights are different colours - this is due to the different type of lighting - older lights tend to be more orange in colour.

An aerial view of Burghhead from around the maltings area looking across the town towards the harbour
A picture which is combined from a few images taken at different angles.

Finally a couple while heading back towards the harbour. The light was really fading fast so it was time to land and pack up.

An aerial view taken above Burghead looking towards the harbour in dark conditions
The detail the camera has picked out in the buildings here is impressive as it was actually quite dark by this time.

An aerial view looking down at the harbour of Burghead, after dark
Finally a closer up shot looking down at the harbour.

That was the end of my trip, just time for the long drive home.

I've tried to expand a bit more in this article on the techniques and process involved in what I do - if you've found this interesting and would like to see more posts like this please let me know.

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