Are you really a professional Drone Aerial Photographer?

With all the hype about drones recently in the past 1-2 years and the fact that RTF (Ready To Fly) drones are getting more advanced and easy to fly, almost anyone could buy a "drone" off the shelf and call themselves an aerial photographer or drone operator today.

Just check out the DJI Phantom series from

In the past, taking photographs or videos from radio controlled aircraft were used to be reserved for people who only have the knowledge & know about electrical engineering or RC modelling. 

"Professional Aerial Photography requires more than having a Photographic Eye"

Why do I say that? It is because an aerial photography platform is a highly sophisticated piece of equipment. Failure to understand how it functions or works will result in serious accidents or damages. It is not just all about getting the correct angle or pictures & having the creative eye. I agree that is an important aspect, but the point that I want to emphasize here is that a true professional aerial photographer should know how his aerial platform works extensively, from how it was built to how it functions in every different condition. 

"To fly an aerial drone platform professionally & to understand it thoroughly requires years of experience"

Before RTF (Ready To Fly) drones were the norm, I was flying radio controlled airplanes & helicopters as a hobby. Subsequently, I built my own DIY drone platforms for aerial photography. Over the past few years, I have hand-built almost 4 - 5 different drones. Initially, it was a steep learning curve for me, but soon I got the hang of it which took about months of self learning from other experienced builders over the internet & from a buddy of mine who is an engineer specializing in building drones & microchips.

"A sense of accomplishment & taste of success"

The moment you complete building your own drone, fine tune it and get awesome aerial footage from flying, it will give you an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and happiness. I dare to say that this is something you will never possibly get when you fly an out-of-the-box-ready-to-fly drone.

Check out the drone aerial video i made some time back with my DIY drone below. I customized almost every flight characteristic of my flying rig to my preference. Something you can only do with a DIY drone. 

WWOOF Experience in Takayama, Potato Digging Day!

Once a year, the Suwa family will hold an annual potato digging day and I was lucky to be WWOOFing at their farm during this period. The name of this event is pretty much self-explanatory, as you would have known, be prepared to come and dig for potatos and more potatos! I soon found out that potato digging day attracts many families with young children as you can see below. 

See those big blue baskets below? That is where all the potatos go to after they have been dug up. We fill the baskets to the brim and they weigh a ton! 

It is not the end after a long hard day of potato digging. The next process is to sort the potatoes according to the type. Have you ever seen so many potatoes in your life before? 

After all the hard work that has been done during the day, it was time for lunch and playtime for the children.




WWOOF Experience in Takayama, Japan

On 8th July 2015, I embarked on yet another trip to Japan. However, this wasn't just a regular vacation. It was a work + holiday trip. In June 2015, I signed up for a one year membership with WWOOFJAPAN. Prior to this trip, I have already visited Japan several times, but I wanted it to be a different experience this time. Besides, I had so much time on hand, so why not try something different, right? 

So, what does it mean to be a participant of WWOOF? It is actually very similar to working holiday. However, participants of WWOOF do not get paid. They work/help out their hosts for "X" amount of hours a day in exchange for accommodation & meals and with 1-2 day off a week, depending on the terms set by the host. 

I decided to give this a try because I have always wanted to experience how it is like to live & work in Japan, plus I wanted to photograph & make aerial videos of the beautiful country with my drone. To do this well, I would need more time to know the place well.

After landing in Osaka airport, I stayed for a night in a budget hotel. It felt more like a capsule hotel, but it was cheap for the price; 1800yen with basic furnishing and decently clean. 

Getting to Takayama city the following morning was easy. There are essentially 2 methods that you can take.

1. Direct bus service from Kintetsu Namba Station, which takes 5.5hrs and costs 4700 yen.

2. Shinkansen (Bullet Train) from Osaka to Nagoya and transfer to the Hida Express train that will take you straight to Takayama, which takes about 3.5hrs and costs 10,000 yen.

More information can be found in the below links:

For train & bus fare calculation, route planning, use the below link: 

Good Morning Osaka! 

Good Morning Osaka! 

I opted for the direct bus route to Takayama, but I would highly recommend the train option for first time visitors for one simple reason; the scenery along the way on board the Hida Express is breathtaking! Remember to take the train in the day though! 

Arriving Takayama in the late afternoon, I found Keiko waiting for me at the corner of the train station with her mini van, and soon it was time to check out my new room for the next 4 weeks :)

WWOOF-ing at an organic farm was hard work, but it was an extremely fun & enriching experience. I learnt how to grow vegetables from their seeds, planting saplings in the soil, harvesting, packing for sales & the toughest of all, weeding! 

Harvest from the farm was exceptionally fresh. The best part was that you could just harvest the type of vegetables you want for dinner for just minutes before you cook it. It can't get any fresher than that and it is organic :) 

Check it out below! 

Fresh produce from the organic farm would be sold during mid-day, so I had to wake up early in the morning to help out with the weighing and packing of vegetables.

On my off days, I would be out exploring the countryside, flying my drone, hoping to capture beautiful aerial photographs & videos! 

I'll let the pictures & videos do the talking

My WWOOF experience in Japan doesn't just end here, Suwa's farm was just my first host. However, I actually stayed with total of 3 different hosts in this trip. Stay tune, more to come soon!