An early and enthusiastic adopter of drone photography, Martha loves to head out and capture sweeping aerial shots of her property. From season to season, she documents the evolution of life and takes in the natural beauty of the changing landscape.
I've always been interested in landscape architecture and design, and when traveling I love to visit spectacular places, like the great châteaux in France and the stately homes of England. I’m endlessly fascinated by the vastness of these masterpieces, and how the designers could comprehend their visions when they had no aerial photographs of the land they were asked to transform into the parks and gardens we enjoy today.
This is the beauty of drones. They make capturing a bird’s-eye view simple—there’s no need for hot-air balloons, helicopters, or planes. I received my first one about five years ago, as a birthday present from a friend who knows how much I adore trying out new technology. It was a single-rotor model (meaning it had only one set of blades). While cutting-edge at the time, it was challenging to navigate, easy to lose while flying, and even easier to crash, because it had none of the bells and whistles that today’s models offer.
Now drones are more accessible and affordable, and they come equipped with multirotors for smoother flying, GPS systems, sophisticated cameras, and features like “return to home” and “hover.” Plus, they hook up to a phone app for quick and seamless steering. There are rules to keep in mind, though: Check with the Federal Aviation Administration and your local officials before taking flight. In my neighborhood, the maximum altitude is 400 feet, and it is required that you keep your drone in sight at all times.
I’ve gotten comfortable flying mine over my property, and I find the results both breathtaking and useful when I’m planning new features, such as fencing, gardens, and structures. I also like to think about great landscape designers and architects throughout history, like Louis Le Vau, André le Nôtre, Capability Brown, and Humphry Repton, and what they would have been able to achieve with this technology.
This coming year, I look forward to seeing how the orchard by my pool will look as it grows, how the trees will color up next fall, and how peaceful everything will be covered in a blanket of snow.
(Pictured above: In winter, boxwoods wrapped in burlap flank the stables and paddocks at Martha’s Bedford home.)