Photos from Above

You’ve probably gathered by now that we purchased a drone.

I love aerial photography; back when we lived in California I worked as an environmental scientist. Part of my job involved studying historical aerial photographs, some of them taken fifty or sixty years ago. It was fascinating to see how towns evolved over the course of multiple decades; some sprang up overnight from orange groves, others grew more organically as populations expanded. 

So getting a drone was pretty exciting for me, despite Chris’ extreme reluctance. We’re trying hard to be respectful drone owners, flying it away from other people and on remote public lands. But I can see how drones can quickly wear out their welcome; we had an incident here in Seattle last year where one hit a woman in the head (and sent her to the hospital) during the annual Pride Parade. And the noise can be quite obnoxious if you fly them low; we tend to zip straight up to minimize sound but quite honestly it’s rare that anyone is in the vicinity to hear it anyway.


(Above Photo) These were taken at our wild camping spot just outside of Yosemite – drones are not allowed in National Parks, but are fair game in most national forests and on BLM lands. Check first, of course.  

We bought our little toy in February and have flown it a bit but there are extensive regulations about flying it near population centers (and airports/helipads/National Parks/etc) so it wasn’t until we got out into the woods of California and the beaches of Baja that we’ve had a proper chance to play around with it.


Chris is a far better flyer than I as he seems to have a cooler head when things go sideways. Upon losing connection, I tend to frantically run after it shouting entreaties to return home to me. This is not a terribly helpful strategy given that it’s often 200 feet above my head and on a mission to flee the area.


For the record, we got a MavicPro by DJI.

I like it, but it also has some significant drawbacks.


-Excellent video quality
-Folds up into a small package (good for travel)
-Can be flown without the controller
-Not very noisy


-Photographs are ok…but not fantastic
-Cumbersome to take photos off the drone
-20 minute flight time
-Occasionally loses a signal, making for a drone that doesn’t respond to commands (and causing panic for the drone owner)


Another thing that has seriously bugged me is that our controller broke after about 10 flights (which we were in CA) and we had to send it in to the shop. As of this writing, it’s still being fixed, waaaay past the 5-7 business days that DJI claimed it would take for repairs. We had to buy a second controller on ebay right before we drove into Mexico. It was an expensive hassle. I’m still ticked about it.


Also, they just came out with a new version that is about half the cost and smaller. Dang.


This was our first campsite in Baja. These two boys were the sons of one of the workers. They didn’t speak of word of English (nor Ben any Spanish) but all three had a jolly good time playing together in the waves. My son is the pale, pasty one, fyi. 

That’s our camper stationed next to a palapa. 

And my very most favorite campsite so far: a small private cove at Bahia de Concepcion. It was amazing and we spent all day lounging in the water, building sand castles and snorkeling after tropical fish. The night was horrible though; it was super hot and muggy and our poor camper batteries are struggling to keep both the fans and the fridge running through the night. I woke up with a heat rash and we were all cranky. The heat is going to be a problem for our little camper.


Five empty palapas, an abandoned boat, and our tiny truck camper. 


We’re currently in San Jose Del Cabo and haven’t brought out the drone but perhaps later when we get up to Todos Santos it’ll be time for another flight.






Our other Baja blog posts:

Baja – Ensenada: beaches, puppies, and an animal sanctuary
Bahia de los Angeles – swimming with whale sharks
Cabo Pulmo – Mexico’s only Pacific aquatic national park
Southern Baja – Sun and sand. And sunburns


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