Kaitlyn McLachlan is a product manager who has worked for a number of tech startups based out of Toronto, Canada, including 500px – a large worldwide photo community that helps photographers showcase their work. Since the end of 2016 she has decided to take some off to travel and focus more on her passion for photography. Her passion for aerial photography caught her eye, so we asked Kaitlyn to be the second in our High Flyers series. All photographs used by permission.
What got you interested in drone photography/video?
Having been interested in photography for over a decade, I am always looking to push my own creative boundaries. The ability to fly a drone into spots you could not previously access – whether over a cliff or hundreds of feet up in the air – was very enticing to me. I’ve dabbled in video, but naturally fall back to still photos.
What steps did you take to become an accomplished drone pilot and photographer?
I flew a friend’s DJI Phantom 3 and bought myself the Phantom 4. I since upgraded to the Mavic Pro for the main reason that it was a smaller and lighter package which was ideal for travel. Flying often has been the biggest way to gain experience – being able to maneuver the drone faster and in more creative ways. The technology of today’s drones plus the ever-improving software make flying these drones easier than ever.
What’s your favourite aspect of unmanned vehicle technology?
I think it is absolutely amazing just how quickly the technology is advancing. Earlier versions of the DJI Phantoms had a plethora of issues, but just years later we have a foldable drone that fits in any backpack, and can fly basically as far as you can imagine – all the while sending back a live HD feed to your phone. I still struggle getting a good wifi signal with my phone… The technological advancements have also made them easier to fly, and just about anyone can pick up the controller for a modern drone and be flying in minutes.
What kind of challenges do you face when executing a drone photo shoot?
Understanding the rules and regulations is key, and unfortunately there is an increasing number of restrictions in terms of where or how far/high you can fly. I hope we’ll be able to continue drone technology advancement without continuing to put further restrictions on flight. Apart from the regulations, weather is a new issue to contend with. My DSLR camera is weather sealed and I’ve done plenty of photo shoots in the wind, rain, and snow, but the last thing I want is my drone to struggle in too high winds or suffer a short circuit and fall from the sky in the rain (or even condensation from fog).
What would be your dream drone photo opportunity?
I would absolutely love to explore the open water more. Ignoring for a moment some of the regulations with regards to disturbing wildlife, it would be a dream to be able to fly over a pod of killer whales feeding or playing out in the ocean. We rarely get a chance to see these beautiful creatures, and it is even rarer to see them from overhead, so I really like how it shows them in a very fresh light.
How do you see the drone technology expanding or changing in the next 5 years?
In the consumer space, I believe they’ll continue to get smaller and smarter – whether it’s software-assisted flights and smart features, or additional sensors to help ensure it’s basically impossible to crash. I anticipate the camera sensors will continue to improve, allowing greater detail and better shots in low light. However, I believe the biggest advancements will come in the commercial and industrial space. Everything from farming to construction to search & rescue could reap big rewards by being able to more easily integrate drones into their operations. Efficiencies will improve and costs will drop – oftentimes quite dramatically.
The next 20 years?
That’s an awful long time! I would like to see people in drones in the next 20 years – but then I’m not so sure we’ll be calling them “drones”.
Do you have a preferred drone to fly? What is it? Why?
My current (and only) drone is the Mavic Pro – as I mentioned earlier, almost entirely because of how light and portable it is. I often wish I could get better image quality from the sensor, but I know that will come in time. And I’m not prepared for the weight and size sacrifices currently needed to go to something like the Inspire line or even some of the drone platforms that are capable of carrying full-size DSLR cameras (plus, I’d be more than a bit scared about potentially damaging THAT much expensive gear all at once).
Where can readers find out more about what you do?
I’m active on Instagram as @kmexplores and you’ll be able to find some of my work at http://www.KaitlynMcLachlan.com. I also create a travel photography vlog on Youtube which features quite a bit of footage from my Mavic.
About Kaitlyn McLachlan
Kaitlyn is a landscape and travel/lifestyle photographer based in Toronto, Canada. She has photographed in over a dozen countries and loves to venture to new places to capture the stunning cities, landscapes and cultures they have to offer. Kaitlyn has worked with clients ranging from Airbnb to UNITY Charity.