HomeNew Zealand’s first drone photography collection published by Grant Sheehan

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MEGAN GATTEY

Pioneering drone photographer and publisher Grant Sheehan has released New Zealand’s first photography collection featuring images exclusively captured with a drone.Eye in the Sky: A Drone Above New Zealand – launched at Unity Books in Wellington on December 3 – explores New Zealand from 10 to 400 feet above ground.

Sheehan has been captivated with aerial photography for many years. He used to take aerial photos from planes, but was forbidden from flying within 500 metres of the ground.

Kayak racers, including the Welly Paddlers, on Porirua Harbour, Paremata. 'They look like floating pencils,' Sheehan says.

SUPPLIED/GRANT SHEEHAN

Kayak racers, including the Welly Paddlers, on Porirua Harbour, Paremata. ‘They look like floating pencils,’ Sheehan says.As soon as camera technology caught up with the remote-controlled drone – three years ago – Sheehan started experimenting with drones.

His book is the first of its kind in New Zealand, and possibly the world, Sheehan says. “I can’t find any other books out there like this. Possibly mine is the first.”Sheehan started the project four and a half months ago.

In the book, he writes: “I was jolted into going ahead after a drone photo I took for a local sheep farm, Kereru Station, and shared on the international drone site Dronestagram, was picked up by the New York Times.”The image featured 800 sheep staring up, transfixed, at a hovering DJI Phantom drone.”Sheehan’s photo went viral, which inspired him to get his book underway.

Grant Sheehan takes a self-portrait with a drone at the Australian Memorial at Pukeahu National War Memorial, which also serves as the book cover.

SUPPLIED/GRANT SHEEHAN

Grant Sheehan takes a self-portrait with a drone at the Australian Memorial at Pukeahu National War Memorial, which also serves as the book cover.Another push factor was that New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority would put restrictive rules in place within two and a half months that would require photographers to get permission from landowners to overfly their properties.

After August 1, drone regulations would no longer be up in the air.”You’ve now got to get permission from the city council to fly it over the streets, and from people if they they will be in the photo,” Sheehan says.In cities, drones should not be flown higher than 200ft because rescue helicopters fly at 400ft, Sheehan says.Point Halswell Beacon, Wellington, where people often fish at low-to-mid tide.

“You also have to call the air control tower before you fly and after you bring it down.”It is a bit of a process, but the beautiful textures one sees from above make it worth it, he says.”Familiar places can appear transformed by unusual light or the constantly shifting climatic conditions that wash across this island country.”

All countries have something special to offer in terms of landscapes, but New Zealand is in a class of its own.