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Reaching New Photographic Heights

  • 16 March 2023

A photo taken from above of locks

A photograph of Foxton Locks taken using a drone

Harborough Welland u3a's Drones and Photography group currently has nine members - six full flying members who own their own drones and three members who are planning the purchase of a drone. As group leader, I bring the aviation and flying knowledge as I have been for many years a model aircraft flyer and more latterly a drone flyer. We have a sort of second in command, Jim, who brings the photography and IT skills to the group. 

To allow the non-owners and others thinking of joining the group to gain flying experience, the Harborough Welland u3a committee recently authorised the purchase of a second-hand drone. This drone has proved invaluable.

The main challenge in operating the drone is, somewhat surprisingly, not the actual flying. That is relatively easily mastered and, with some practice, accurate positioning of the drone can be achieved. The main challenge is positioning the drone so that still shots and video make the best use of the unique aerial view a camera equipped drone offers. Even with an introductory drone, some stunning still images and video can be taken from a perspective not possible with a conventional camera on the ground.

In the group, I bring the aviation and model flying experience and ensure we operate in a safe and legal environment. Jim, who has had a little drone flying experience in the past, is a valuable member on the photography and IT aspects of what we do. The other interested members seem to either have come from one of our u3a photography groups - or some have no drone flying or photography experience at all.

resized foxton locks

A photograph of Foxton Locks taken by a drone.

The most interesting aspect of operating a drone is the amazing opportunity to view things from a perspective just not achievable with “normal” cameras and phones.

As an example, we been following the progress of two Steeplejacks who are working on a local village church. The video and still pictures offer an amazing insight to the sheer bravery of these guys and, as an added benefit, we were able to show them images of the spire before they started the work, which not only helped in their planning of the work but also helped in keeping them safer on the job!

One aspect that we never envisaged when starting the group was the interest shown by other groups in the possible results of our activities. We have recently been asked to film in a church (yes, we can fly indoors as well). The activity was a drum practice organised by our “New Experience” group and certainly provided a different view of the event. We have also been approached by one of our cycling groups for some video shots which would be used to promote their activities on line. Our Market Harborough historic group have requested some aerial pictures of the town for inclusion in a second book they are writing.

When invited, we also like to do talks to a variety of groups, making them aware of what one of our drones can do.

Our plans for the future are to continue the flight training programme and visit some of the many fascinating buildings and locations we have in the Harborough area.


  Please note: use of drones is not covered by u3a insurance, and additional insurance cover would have to be purchased if you are using drones as part of a u3a activity. 

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