Celebrating Aerial Cornwall’s 10th Birthday

The beginning

My first drone flight was 10 years ago in 2014. I was at my parents’ farm and flew above their fields. This gave me the confidence to try another flight at nearby Coverack beach. Seeing these familiar places from an entirely new perspective – I was instantly hooked!

I was inspired by a video on YouTube from GoPro. Their camera was strapped to a DJI Phantom 1. This was the first time I saw a consumer drone and realised the potential they have.

In the early years, with a GoPro attached underneath the drone, I had to put the camera in a ‘timelapse’ setting so it would continuously take photos from the moment I pressed the button to when I landed the drone and stopped the camera again. At the time this seemed fine, but it’s quite funny looking back at it now, with how much technology has progressed since then. The camera would take hundreds of photos on each flight due to the 1, 2 or 5 second timer, and I would have just 1 or 2 shots from the entire flight where I actually managed to get some suitable angles. I was effectively ‘flying blind’.

The early years

The DJI Phantom 2 arrived one year later. It had the option to add a gimbal (camera stabiliser) to ensure that the horizon would always be level and the video footage would be much smoother. This also enabled a live video feed from the GoPro camera so I could see what the camera sees for the first time. This was a complete game changer, even though the video feed would be quite glitchy at times.

Throughout these early years, I spent so much time driving around Cornwall capturing aerial views of the coastline. I loved that it took me to places that I hadn’t visited before and enabled me to spend so much time outdoors. During each flight I was learning, trying out new things and improving constantly.

In 2015 I decided to become a qualified drone pilot so that I could pursue commercial work and sell my images. I picked up some clients and was fortunate enough to get to fly drones as both a hobby and for work.

DJI, the leading drone company, released the Phantom 3 and 4 series soon after. I picked up the Phantom 4 and then 4 Pro in 2017, which had their own camera attached to the drone as standard. This built-in camera achieved much better quality than the GoPros that I had used previously, a very stable video feed and crucially gave me full control of the camera whilst airborne with the DJI app. This allowed me to easily switch between photo and video modes whilst in flight and also change camera settings in response to the conditions.

Other drones

With drone technology constantly evolving I have continually upgraded when new models are released. Over the years I have purchased the following:

  • 2019: DJI Inspire 2
  • 2021: DJI Mini 2
  • 2021: Upgraded to the DJI Mini 3 Pro
  • 2022: DJI Mavic 3
  • 2023: Upgraded to the DJI Mavic 3 Pro

Aerial Cornwall calendar

The first Aerial Cornwall calendar was released back in 2015. It was a great way to showcase my favourite images taken throughout each year. I have posted calendars all over the world and am very grateful to everyone who has purchased them.

Library of images and coastline covered

Having flown drones around Cornwall for over 10 years, I have built up a huge library of images and there are just a few places I’m yet to photograph. I enjoy capturing existing locations at different times of year and have found, with the improvement of camera quality, it’s interesting to revisit places and refresh some images in a much higher resolution than I’ve been able to achieve before.

Plane flights

In 2021 I took to the air in a Cessna 152 plane for some photography flights around Cornwall which enabled me to cover many places in a short amount of time – much quicker than travelling to each location by car. Photographing the coastline by leaning out of a plane window with a camera and seeing it with my own eyes was an incredible and unforgettable experience. These flights resulted in my highest resolution images and a more elevated perspective than drones.

New website and shop

In 2023 I launched a new website complete with a print shop. It’s great to have an online shop where all my photos are available to buy as prints in various sizes and finishes. Later in 2023 I launched a limited series of art posters titled ‘Mor Collection’. ‘Mor’ is Cornish for ‘Sea’.

The future

I’m excited to see how drone technology progresses in the future, with the improvement of camera quality, battery life and portability. Even the equipment available today was hard to imagine when I started Aerial Cornwall 10 years ago. I look forward to continuing this passion for another 10 years.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me, worked with me, hired me, purchased calendars, prints and artwork, for following me on social media, liking posts and leaving comments. I hope my images and videos have brought enjoyment and inspiration to everyone.

I’m very fortunate to be able to live in Cornwall and photograph this beautiful part of the world.

The sky’s the limit – Matt