Taking to the Skies

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Flying an unmanned aircraft is not something you would typically think of doing in a photography class. However, that is just what is happening in the newest photography class offered here at North Dakota State. The class was offered for the first time this fall for the NDSU Honors Program.

The class recently took a small road trip to Harwood, North Dakota. Harwood is only a couple miles up the road, but it fulfills the requirements the class needed, specifically its distance from the airport that is in Fargo. There are federal rules in place that prohibit the flight of anything within 5 miles of the airport. The town of Harwood is conveniently located 7 miles away.

The instructor for this class was Meghan Kirkwood, a studio art teacher. Her goal for the class was to develop the skills of students in this emerging field. The class also talked about the history of aerial photography, the ever-changing regulations around drones, ethics of using drones and how to use the drone effectively and where this could be applied.

“The class was started to expand the number of classes that the honors program offers,” Kirkwood said.

The class, however, was not just available to only North Dakota State students. Kirkwood said that it was offered to the tri-college campus system so that some Moorhead State students could take it as well.

The drones that were used were called DJI Phantom Advanced. They were chosen based on their cost, durability and quality of photos.

“These drones were the middle tier of photography drones,” she said. “It wouldn’t be a drone that most people would go out and buy just to use in their backyard.”

Kirkwood does not want to stop creating new classes for the honors program. She plans to try and open a class for using open-source photography programs, as these become the newest way to edit photography.

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