Some Ups and Downs with Drones

Aerial photo from a drone of forested lowlands leading up to snowcapped mountains. The unique, aerial perspective of a drone. © Ryan Trenkamp
The unique, aerial perspective of a drone. © Ryan Trenkamp

An interview with Ryan Trenkamp

Drones can provide some unique and wonderful images for nature photographers, and they can be a lot of fun to fly! With drone cameras getting ever better, and drones becoming increasingly popular, more photographers are finding value in these small flying objects. There’s even a special category for drones and other non-traditional captures in NANPA’s Showcase photography competition. Ryan Trenkamp has been using drones in his work for the past couple of years and shared his thoughts on these nifty little tools, how and why he uses them, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

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2021 Showcase Winner: Tom Ingram

Great Kiskadee Eating Wild Pyracantha Berries, image by Tom Ingram
Great Kiskadee Attracted to Wild Pyracantha Berries, Alamo, Texas, 2021 Showcase Best in Category, Birds © Tom Ingram

Artist’s statement

My main objective with photography is to share the wonders of nature that might not be easy for others to witness firsthand. With bird photography, I love being able to freeze nature in motion and capture details that the naked eye cannot see. I also try to pre-establish a vision of what I want to achieve on a specific trip. During the workshop where I got the great kiskadee shot, my focus was on action shots that would help the viewer appreciate the speed, dexterity and beauty of the species. With wildlife photography, I spend a significant amount of time learning the behavior of my subjects, and being able to predict this great kiskadee’s consistent flight pattern was key to achieving this shot. I loved how the action of this beautiful bird was captured.

How I got the shot

This shot of a great kiskadee attracted to pyracantha berries was captured in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.  The shot was a challenge due to overcast skies, thus requiring a high ISO due to the depth of field and high shutter speed required for the desired outcome.  The overcast skies were also a blessing, as they reduced shadows and gave me better flexibility with sun angle.  I pre-focused in manual mode to where the birds were consistently eating berries.  Then using my handheld shutter release fired away.  It was very gratifying when preparation and vision all came together for this photo.    

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