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Drone photos with photographer George Steinmetz at the Palace of Versailles

During a trip to France for several photo reports, George Steinmetz (the flying photographer) contacted us to organize a drone photo shoot at the Vegetable Garden du Roi near the Château de Versailles.

Jean-Philippe Dollet from DCOMDRONE is at the helm and George Steinmetz, photographer, is focused on his framing
Jean-Philippe Dollet from DCOMDRONE is piloting the Inspire2 drone and George Steinmetz, photographer, is focused on framing it

As is very often the case, contact was established through a Google search and then an email received in these terms:

I'm a professional photographer specializing in aerial photos and have my own Inspire 2 and X7 gimbal with me, but I understand the French system does not accept my American license from the FAA. Do you have time to discuss this afternoon? Best, George

After a few exchanges of emails and the implementation of administrative procedures allowing us to obtain all the necessary authorizations for taking photos by drone, we arranged to meet in front of the gates of the Potager du Roi in Versailles at 6:30 a.m. for a collaboration that I will keep excellent memories of.

Regulations should allow the use of a drone in France by a foreign remote pilot

The recent evolution of European drone regulations normally facilitates the use of a drone in France by a foreign remote pilot. In fact, we still see that it is complicated to carry out a drone flight in France as a drone operator from a member state of the European Union. For a drone photographer from a non-EU state, it gets even more complicated.

Which explains why we are often asked by photo or video professionals to accompany them on French territory with the aim of taking aerial shots by drone legally.

Who is George Steinmetz?

George Steinmetz is American. He first studied geophysics before choosing to be a photographer after an initial experience of more than two years hitchhiking across Africa.

His first collaboration with National Geographic dates back to 1986. Since then, he has never stopped exploring the world. He has long specialized in aerial photography, piloting a motorized paraglider himself to offer us new and exceptional angles of view. He is a loyal contributor to National Geographic magazine. The GEO magazine devoted some 25 major reports to it. He has won numerous accolades as a photographer. Finally, you will also appreciate his work by leafing through the 5 photo-reportage books that he has signed. Today, he regularly uses a drone to continue his work as a photographer around the world. Unlike the paramotor which is always moving, the drone allows it to have a "fixed" that it can optimize. The drone is also a more flexible device to use.

Since 1998, George Steinmetz has used a paramotor to take his aerial photos
Since 1998, George Steinmetz has used a paramotor to take his aerial photos

The drone and its pilot at the service of the photographer

It must be admitted that in the majority of cases, photographer and drone remote pilot are just one person. Thanks to GPS positioning, the drone will be in a fixed position at the time of shooting and the photographer will be able to safely "put aside the piloting" to spend a few seconds adjusting the framing and exposure parameters. Conversely, producing video shots most often requires a moving drone. It is then dangerous and illegal for the remote pilot/cameraman to "lock himself" in viewing the plan that it records and no longer pays attention to the trajectory of the drone, its position and its environment.

control screen of the DJI Inspire2 DCOMDRONE drone equipped with the X7 photo sensor -

Jean-Philippe Dollet from DCOMDRONE is at the helm and George Steinmetz, photographer, is focused on his framing

With George, we worked together but each on our own. Him, his eyes riveted on his return image with the objective of capturing the best photos and me, my eyes riveted on my Inspire2 drone and its flight parameters. At that time, our discussions were sober and focused on the essentials.

Up, Down, A little bit more, Go forward, Go back, Slightly, To my left, To my right, Cool, Good, Great...

I have to land George! ...Okay, It's good.

The X7 camera represents the top of the range for drone photography.

The DJI Zenmuse X7 camera is a Super 35mm camera integrated into a stabilized 3-axis gimbal that installs under the DJI drone Inspire2 to offer the best in high-end video production.

With its 24 MPixels, the X7 associated with the Inspire2 drone and the CinemaDNG license, Apple ProRes RAW, allows you to record a 6K video signal with a dynamic range of 14 stops.

The DJI Inspire2 combined with the X7 sensor is the ultimate pro drone. Most often operated by a pair composed of a pilot and a camera operator, it allows the production of complex video shots in complete safety.

Photo of the DJI Inspire2 Drone S3 approved and equipped with the X7 camera - on the ground before takeoff - DCOMDRONE

Photo of the DJI Inspire2 drone landing. Recovery of the DJI Inspire2 drone by hand by DCOMDRONE

Photo shoot with a DJI Inspire2 and X7 sensor

If the DJI Inspire2 drone excels in film production, it is also the best for aerial drone photography when combined with the DJI X7 sensor and the set of 4 lenses which offers a variety of focal lengths from 16mm to 50mm.

My setback limits and regulatory distance away from the drone led George to use the 16mm to get the framing he wanted, but more often than not, the drone flew with the 24mm or 35mm lens.

We worked from 7:00 a.m. to 9:55 a.m. because at 10 a.m. the site opens to the public. Each flight lasted approximately 14 minutes. In 3 hours I landed the drone 8 times to change the 2 batteries. Needless to say, we haven't stopped.

The good photo is not just about the right angle of view and correct framing. George also waits for the right light; the one that will spread over different areas of the photo to reinforce the aesthetics of the image. Thanks to the passage of the clouds, the sun's rays came to light up the King's Vegetable Garden exactly as George wanted... 'It's good for me. You can land. Good job. Thanks a lot".

Photographic report by Georges Steinmetz
extract from the viewer - Photos George Steinmetz

Before parting we of course talked about "Hart Island" !

Hart Island is a small island that is home to the largest cemetery in New York City. For decades, this is where people who are not claimed by close relatives have been buried. In April 2020, faced with overwhelmed funeral directors and temporary morgues, New York City decided to bury COVID-19 victims without family in mass graves on Hart Island. As a good photojournalist and witness to his times, George sent his drone above the island to take images of the mass burials, considering that there was material to document this rather macabre episode of the pandemic. After a quarter of an hour, the police were on the scene. George was arrested and his DJI Mavic 2 drone confiscated. He had time to remove the memory card to save his photos which went around the world.

To continue working, George bought a new Mavic 2 Pro which he considers ideal for certain jobs although his preference is for the X7 optic installed under the Inspire2, a professional drone that is much larger and more complex to use. Since then, the NY police have returned his drone and George remains convinced that he was not at fault. https://www


If you would like to know more, don't hesitate to contact us.

We will be happy to listen to you and advise you.


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