A drone’s-eye view of Singapore

Photographer Chia Joel tells Kurt Ganapathy how he goes to great lengths to capture these magnificent shots of Singapore.

Better known as Idroneman, Chia Joel spends his free time capturing incredible aerial photos of places in Singapore and beyond. Here, he discusses his drones, his shoot planning process and his love of seeing Singapore from a different angle.

Tell us about the equipment you use and the process of capturing these images.

I use and trust DJI camera drones and quadcopters. I own three DJI Phantom 3s (Advanced). These machines have been providing me with a high level of consistent quality and reliability throughout my aerial adventures. The process of my aerial adventures, or should I say, aerial photography sessions, consists of a number of important and well thought-out processes. Most of the time, the day before a flight, I have to plan out where and what I would like to capture and shoot, with some rough framing of the shots that I would like to capture in mind.

And on the day of the shoot?

Before heading out on the actual day, I check the weather conditions. If it’s all good, I head down to the location with my co-pilot – none other than my very understanding, patient and enthusiastic girlfriend – to recce the area to determine a good launching and landing spot. Most of the time, I choose an elevated area to allow for more battery to be reserved for shooting rather than trying to ascend into the sky.

Once a good location is determined, setting up the drone takes about 10 minutes. This important process includes attaching the propellers and the prop guards, warming up the aircraft and ensuring that the signal strength is good with minimal radio interference. This is crucial as a safe and good flight is highly dependent not only on the natural weather conditions, but also the strong signal strength between the remote controller and the drone.

What are the challenges during the flight?

Throughout this entire process, lots of focus has to be placed on framing the photo or video and keeping a close look out on both my iPad, which displays important information like the wind speed, velocity and signal strength, as well as the drone up in the sky.

After my photos are captured to my liking, flying the drone back is usually a breeze as long as the battery consumption was well managed!