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Mention drones to someone and the chances are good that remotely operated, sometimes lethal, military aircraft will first come to mind. But the use of these innovative model flying machines for benign purposes has soared in recent years as prices and sizes have decreased

Capable of carrying small video and still photo cameras, these days drones – also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs – have become a valuable photographic tool in many industries, particularly in the fields of news gathering and the coverage of sport and leisure activities.

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One person embracing this pioneering technology in Thailand to capture unique bird’seye views of the country’s historic monuments, temples and tourist attractions is former BBC film editor Richard Barrow. When he first arrived in the Kingdom 20 years ago, Barrow taught at a private Thai school heading its computer department. Today he spends most of his time as a travel blogger and photographer promoting Thailand as a tourist destination and says drone technology has lent a new dimension to his work.

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“For some years now I have wanted to buy an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in order to take pictures from high up, but until recently the machinery has been expensive and difficult to maintain. However, the new generation of quadcopters is more affordable and easier to use and since I started posting my drone pictures on social media and on my dedicated website, Thailand From Above, it has opened up a whole new area of interest.

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Learning the basics of flying a drone – I use a DJI Phantom 2 Vision quadcopter – doesn’t take long, but becoming adept at taking good aerial images with it is an on-going process. Unlike conventional photography on terra firma, there are a number of extra things to think about, not least wind speeds, altitude, battery power, the range of the drone, and landing it safely.”

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Get it right and the results can be spectacular, as this series of Barrow’s aerial images featuring some of Thailand’s most beautiful temple sites and epic Buddhist statuary shows.

Bangkok 101 Magazine, October 2014

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