Shooting from new heights

B y Jaime Thomas

Photographer Alan Nyiri is always looking for a new angle.

Be it soaring above a church, clock tower, town or field he’ll find a way to get a good shot, even if it’s several hundred feet in the air. And he won’t need to leave the ground to do it.

Nyiri has lately become the pilot of a “quadcopter,” a miniature helicopter with four arms and propellers that carries a camera through the skies. Using a remote control and his iPhone, Nyiri guides the Model II Phantom Vision unmanned area vehicle to locations throughout the Lakes Region and elsewhere and takes stunning photographs.

“I’ve been waiting for this my entire life,” Nyiri joked. He explained how the device allows photography from previously impossible spots; the copter can reach areas that might be too tight or dangerous for a full-sized helicopter or plane.

“It’s really revolutionizing aerial photography,” he said. Though the flying camera is new to Nyiri, taking pictures from the sky is not. A professional photographer for 40 years, he carved out a niche for himself with pictures of colleges and universities, as well as architecture and landscape photos.

He said he was interested in photography since junior high school and finally pursued it as a career after college. And while he rented out planes and helicopters for years, he said the quadcopter is something that he dreamed of in the past and has become extremely useful.

“It gives me a chance for that point of view you could never get from a plane,” he said. His first model of the copter carried a goPro camera, and the new one has a built-in, 14-megapixel camera. Should Nyiri ever lose transmission with his device, it will automatically return back to its takeoff point.

Additionally, the quadcopter has a built in GPS and a 6-axis sensor that senses when the camera is off balance and levels itself constantly. The machine can also hover where Nyiri wants it to stay and can fly as far as 1,000 feet from him at speeds of 22 mph horizontally and 16 mph vertically.

But despite all the advanced technology, the photographer said it was quite simple to learn.

“I spent a morning flying around my backyard with no camera, and at noon I went down to the football field and flew it up with the camera,” he said. Before having the newest model, he said he shot blindly but was still able to achieve magnificent panoramic shots.

“In my mind’s eye, I could see pretty much what I’m taking pictures of,” he said. It was this vision that led Nyiri to take the photo that graces the cover of the Lakes Region 2014 phonebook, showing the Poultney town green. He saw an opportunity to capture some spectacular, after-storm lighting and used his new tool to get the perfect shot.

To see Nyiri’s eye in the sky work, search Alan Nyiri or Vermont Photo Workshops on Facebook.

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