Bernie Friel has been a professional photographer since he retired from his law practice in 2001. Following two years as an Air Force JAG officer, he began his civilian practice as a trial lawyer and eventually became a municipal bond lawyer. He was one of the creators of the National Association of Bond Lawyers and became its first president. Bernie’s interest in the outdoors draws him to worldwide adventure travel. He is a charter member of NANPA and a member of the prestigious Explorers Club, International Society of Aviation Photography and the Grand Canyon River Guides. His website is http://www.wampy.com. Continue reading
As I was editing a batch of images from a shoot in Death Valley National Park, I had an uncomfortable feeling that even though the content was spot-on, some images were not as pleasing as I thought they would be when I shot them. The scene was just too vast, and the eye was distracted by the image composition. Continue reading
“Drones,” my article on the commercial use of drones for photography, appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of Currents. While at that time it seemed clear that such use was prohibited under existing FAA Advisory Circulars and Policy Statements, a recent decision (March 6, 2014) by an administrative law judge with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled that the FAA had not undertaken the required steps to give legal effect to those circulars and statements. Thus, at the moment there is no federal law, regulation, policy or circular prohibiting the use of drones.
The March decision involved a $10,000 fine imposed by the FAA on photographer Raphael Pirker who used a drone to film a commercial at the University of Virginia. While the FAA has repeatedly claimed that flying a drone for commercial purposes is illegal, this was the first and only time the agency had attempted to impose a fine.
For the moment, at least, there appears to be no prohibition on the commercial use of drones for any purpose, including, as one commentator noted, for “beer deliveries”—at least under federal law. But before you begin sending your drones skyward to indulge in a commercial or noncommercial photographic undertaking, be sure you check state and local laws. Many state legislatures and local governments have been considering laws to restrict their use, and some laws may already be in effect.
It is unclear just what the FAA will do next, but it is likely to appeal or establish an emergency rule to prohibit commercial use of drones until it can develop appropriate regulations covering such use as it has been directed to prepare by Congress.
Bernard Friel is a charter member and past president of NANPA who also served on the board of the NANPA Foundation. A retired lawyer, Bernie has been a serious nature photographer for more than 50 years.
Text and Photographs by Bernie Friel
Not only is Minnesota experiencing record cold this winter, (an average January daytime temperature of 8º F) but to warm the hearts, if not the bodies of nature photographers (and bird watchers alike), there has been a record migration of snowy owls into the state. While in most years a few may be seen in far northern Minnesota, this year they have been found at more than 250 locations throughout the state. They have also been found into Iowa and as far south as Kansas. The presence in such great numbers of this bird of the Arctic tundra is thought to be a consequence of the crash in the lemming population (sometimes called the tundra potato chip) in their home hunting grounds, causing them to seek food further south. Continue reading