Up, Up and Away! – An interview with Rahul Ravindran, the drone photographer
When flying on a plane, we often get excited to watch out from the window. The houses and street lamps become small boxes and stars of the ground. The symmetrical patterns and the beauty of the chaos can only be appreciated from that altitude. Setting out to capture those moments, Rahul Ravindran, Chennai-based photographer, makes his mark in the sky. The drone photographer shares his aerial pictures of various locations on his Instagram and Facebook pages. The images share a different perspective and composition to photography.
How did you get into photography?
“It was 2010. I had joined ITC Infotech. I didn’t really know what to do with my savings, so I bought a DSLR. I started taking pictures and sharing thoughts with my friends. That’s how I started.”
Why a drone?
“I always enjoyed the aerial view. At first, I was just using it to take pictures controlling from my terrace. Later, I started looking out for patterns which would look better from a drone.”
Is it legal to fly a drone?
“The main con would be that flying a drone is not legal everywhere. But those who fly a drone should consider two things. One, the drone always makes a whirring sound which gathers people’s attention easily. I always use people’s terraces to lift off the drone. So, the observers on the street would imagine it to be a bird. Secondly, one should have ethics and not use it to peep into the neighbors. This is the reason why it is not completely legal.”
I saw your aerial pictures of tea estates, hill stations, and deserted lands. How do you choose locations for drone photography?
“I take a lot of trips with my friends. I always carry my kit wherever I go. When I find an interesting place, I first take pictures with my DSLR. I study the area and look for land patterns which might be a suitable perspective for drone photography. I ask to see the view from the local’s terraces. After marking and planning the composition of the picture, I fly my drone from the terrace.”
I found some pictures where you were lying on the road taken from the drone. How do you handle being both the subject and controller?
“Ah, yes… You would be able to see the controller next to me. My mobile is also connected to the controller. Hence, I can use my phone to view the picture and fix the altitude. I don’t leave till I get the perfect shot. It’s a good thing I don’t mind lying on the road!”
How high can you fly the drone?
“Generally, I fly the drone up to an altitude of 180m. The Indian law restricts drones flying above 200m. I don’t want to break any law!”
What is your best experience as a drone photographer?
“Recently, I was awarded for my aerial pictures from Madras photo bloggers. I am very proud of that.