Drones are expensive, but balloons are cheap. That’s the moral of this video by BBC Earth Unplugged: if you don’t have a professional-grade drone, all you need are some balloons, a helium tank, some fishing wire, and a wide-open field:
The camera itself—a smartphone—is strapped into the cut-off top of a two-liter plastic bottle. That way, if the unit drops, the camera stays secure. The blueprints look like this:
Then, using fishing wire, you can simply tie several helium-filled balloons to the apparatus—enough to keep it afloat while tied to the end of a fishing pole. The end result will look pretty silly, but no matter—you’ll have a functioning sort-of drone.
Set the camera to automatically snap photos every 10 seconds or so, and you’d be surprised how well the device actually works—from a bird’s-eye view only.
If you want a rig that actually shoots forward, though, instead of straight down, then you’ll need a slight rig variation. Using binder clips and more fishing wire, you can rig together something like this, with your camera dangling from the bottom and facing outward:
The BBC team switch to a GoPro here to capture a wider angle of a particular bridge. As you can see, their results are a complete success:
This is a fun—and, at least, legal—way to accurately replicate drone photography. While you should take extra care with your camera, you’ll be surprised by the results.
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