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We caught up with Peter Stewart of DronePiks this week to find out how he captures those very cool aerial shots of Northern Ireland!
Tell me a bit about yourself, Peter.
I live in Lisburn and I have worked as a Firefighter for the past 24 years in both Belfast and Lisburn. I also work as a casual in Vitality gym at the leisure-plex. My main sport is Taekwondo, and I have been running Lisburn Taekwondo Club at the leisure-plex for the past 25 years.
I was born in Lisburn and lived there until I was 29. I then moved to Moira village for 7 years before returning back to Lisburn. With two busy kids it’s a good location to get to all activities and work.
What first sparked your interest in drones?
I have always had an interest in RC cars and my son has a collection of both electric, Nitro and Petrol cars. I had always considered getting an RC plane, so when drones hit the market it was only a matter of time before I purchased one.
Which drone do you use?
I use the DJI Phantom 3 Standard which comes with a built-in lens which is great for ease of use. It’s easy to fly and has a great range and battery life. I have thought about upgrading just to have a smaller unit for the hikes around the Mourne mountains.
Do you fly drones commercially or as a hobby?
I currently fly the drone as a hobby. I am interested in having a commercial licence but with being so busy with work and Taekwondo, I haven’t really had the time to investigate it properly.
What’s your favourite place to shoot drone footage, and why?
I enjoy flying the drone around many locations in Northern Ireland. I have also brought it away on holidays and flown it across parts of France and Switzerland. However, my favourite place to fly it would be in the Mourne Mountains. They are amazing to hike and to fly the drone to try to capture the odd decent photograph is good fun.
What do you enjoy most being in the mountains?
I love hiking in the Mournes no matter what the weather is doing. I enjoy hiking on my own or with my good friends Julie, Glen and Francis. I always enjoy getting into the hills and enjoy choosing new routes and locations to visit, and if the weather is kind, to photograph with the drone. However, in order to fly the drone the wind speed needs to be less then 20mph. On the summit of most peaks in Northern Ireland we have wind speeds in excess of 30mph, so I don’t always get to fly the drone – it’s been carried up and down many times without the rucksack being opened.
And finally, give us your “golden rule” for capturing great drone footage…
I am by no means a photographer. I enjoy taking photographs, but any of them that look great have been more due to luck rather than skill. With the drone, it’s about having it at the correct height and distance from the subject to enable the shot to fit the frame. I get a visual on the handset so I do get to see what I am taking. Also, make sure you always fly the drone into the wind after take-off – that way you know if it can handle the wind resistance and that you are able to fly it back to its take-off point.