For The Fort Bend Star
Unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones, are about to become fixtures in your daily life, but Randy Kozlovsky, a Sugar Land photographer, may have been one of the pioneers of drone photography.
Kozlovsky grew up in Sugar Land and after attempting to make a living as a professional surfer in Hawaii, returned to Sugar Land and began his career as a professional photographer in the 1960s. Back then, Kozlovsky would attach a small camera to a small radio-controlled airplane and fly it over whatever seemed interesting, snap the camera through its remote device, and then land the plane so he could advance the film to the next frame. Then he would send the plane back up and take another photograph. While this one frame per flight may seem slow, Kozlovsky would then have to mail in his film and wait a week to see what he actually photographed.
“Today it sounds like a long slow process, but back then it was really exciting,” Kozlovsky said.
Years later when today’s drones first started becoming available, Kozlovsky bought his first, then his second, and then his third drone.
“It takes some practice to fly a drone,” Kozlovsky said. “I crashed my first two drones rather quickly.”
Learning to control your drone is not the only difficulty one may face.
“I was flying my drone over a bridge and didn’t realize that some birds had nested in the girders of the bridge. The birds immediately perceived the drone as a threat to their youngsters and began attacking the drone. They would ram into it and try to steer it away from their nests. I was watching the view from my onboard camera and the camera would suddenly rock back and forth,” Kozlovsky said.
Other details to contend with are losing orientation with your drone.
“You may think your drone is in front of you but it is actually behind you,” Kozlovsky said.
If he loses his drone, it is programmed to fly to his home at an altitude of 100 feet.
“The problem is there may be a building or tree that is taller than 100 feet between your drone and home. In that case, you get to see video of your drone flying right into a wall,” Kozlovsky said.
Kozlovsky bought the drones with photography in mind.
“I wanted a different perspective on my photos,” he said. He has used the drone for aerial view photos that are much less costly than hiring a private plane. Last summer when the county was experiencing flooding, the levy district hired Kozlovsky to photograph the levies. “They wanted to see if their levies were holding and also to determine the extent of the flooding,” Kozlovsky said.
While drone photography is a hot topic, Kozlovsky, sounding like the veteran photographer he is, is quick to point out that drones are just another tool for the photographer.
“A bad photo is still a bad photo even if it was taken from a drone,” Kozlovsky said.