A Drone’s View of Christian Community (and a Farm)

Once a year people from all over England get together to pick apples. Well that’s the excuse to meet up anyway. The location is New Creation Farm in Northamptonshire, home to agricultural business – cow and sheep rearing, fruit orchards, firewood production, as well as a Christian community house.
After last years inaugural success with the fruit pick I thought it would be a good idea to film a little of what went on as it shows Christian community at its best: serving, chatting, laughing, and eating. People from all walks of life and all ages. This is the end result and I think it captures something of the location and the day quite well.

The majority of this was filmed with a drone – I don’t like the word drone as it has too many bad connotations with war but quadcopter or UAV isn’t clear to most people. The DJI Phantom 2 that I borrowed is small, lightweight, and fairly easy to control. Underneath is attached a GoPro 3+ on a gimbal which stops vibrations ruining the video. I’ve pulled in some screenshots from the film and I’ll explain what went on.

The opening shot

The opening shots were planned to make the most of early morning light – in this case at 7am as the sun was just rising. It helps having a highly accurate MET office weather forecast so you know which mornings are just right.

It's hard to fathom how vast the expanse of poplar trees is.

It’s hard to fathom how vast the expanse of poplar trees is. The top down view going across the top of the trees was inspired by the BBC Planet Earth series. Now I just need to find some polar bears to film.

In a remote corner of the

In a remote corner of the farmland is a peaceful copse, despite it being right next to a railway line. The early morning sun made for some brilliant long shadows. Keeping the Phantom in a slow straight line was hard work though.

Tractor from above

I trailed one of the tractors carrying a load of freshly picked apples whilst moving upwards and at a slight angle. Pleased with the framing of this shot showing numerous rows of perfect apple trees.


The suction mount I recently used in the Life On The Rocks video came in useful to get some close up shots of the tractor.


Derek and his happy face and farmers cap. He managed to keep a straight face for long enough to include in the final film.


The cows showed a keen interest in what I was doing, which meant I could get some great close up shots with the 100-300mm lens (200 – 600mm full frame equivalent).


Baaaaa. The sheep were less inquisitive than the cows but more inclined to run about even without the drone flying above them.

The big pick

The “big pick”as it is informally known saw up to 300 people come from Liverpool, Sheffield, Brighton, London, Birmingham, Coventry and other places. Three hours of fruit picking and then a BBQ, a great day had by all.

Young and old

Young and old came, people from all walks of life. I went round getting some close up shots with a GH3 as did Viv with his A7S.


Clive and Huw. Top guys.


Yup – that’s a cooking apple. Actually in fairness to Kath this was a set-up filmed a couple of days after the big pick. And even more respect for that fact that she’s allergic to apples as it is! So please give her chocolate to heal the wounds.

River Farmhouse

River Farmhouse – this was taken mid morning to allow for the sun to get into the farmyard. The weather was perfect with bright low sun and hardly any wind.

Cow ring

My favourite shot of the whole film – looking straight down at cows eating silage in feeding rings. Symmetry at its best.

getting towards the legal height that a drone can fly

100 metres. This was getting towards the legal height that a drone can fly in the UK – the legal ceiling is 120 metres. Even from this height it’s amazing how far you can see and just how different everything looks.

Going back a couple of years I would never have imagined I would be able to make a video like this with aerial shots, shallow depth of field close ups, and film colour grade techniques. It’s a privilege to live in a time when there aren’t many limits to creativity.

Watercolours From My Wanderings (part 1 of 3)

Hello, I’m Ian Bird. Pleased to meet you too.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed every casual and all too rare opportunity to paint with watercolour paints. It’s just a nice feeling- sploshing around colour and light in a fluid fashion.

I guess my art has two main themes- architecture and the great outdoors, springing from my career in Architecture and days spent gamboling about on the moors.

This is the first of three posts that will feature my watercolours. I do hope you enjoy them.

UPDATE: see part two and part three of this series of paintings.

Keep your eyes peeled (a strange and worrying saying which I do not wish you to take literally) for parts two and three.