Visual Communication in Society

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Events and Workshops

Check soon for new details of forthcoming workshops


We recently collaborated with Futurum – a free online resource and magazine aimed at introducing 14-19-year-olds worldwide to the world of work in STEM (science, tech, engineering, maths, medicine) and SHAPE (social sciences, humanities and the arts for people and the economy). Futurum worked with us to translate our drone research into free educational resources that can be used in the classroom, at home and in STEM and SHAPE clubs. Click here to find out more.

Drone Hobbyists and Professional Drone Photographers
We are currently working with a selection of drone hobbyists who took part in our Drones in Visual Culture project, as well as a group of professional drone photographers, to create video, audio, photographic and textual content for our website. The content will offer individual case studies of how each person uses drones in their everyday life and what types of photographs they like to capture. It will provide an important educational resource for children and young adults with a general interest in visual, cultural or digital media studies, as well as a more specific interest in drones and photography. We hope to add the content to our website in March/April 2022.

Flying Experiences

Eric Hanscom

Hello, my name is Eric Hanscom, I’m a patent and trademark attorney and I live in Carlsbad, California. 

I got into droning in 2015. One of my clients is a surfboard manufacturer and he called me up and said that there’s this “flying camera” flying over the line-up taking pictures of surfers and he sent me a link and I thought, “Okay, this is pretty cool.” 

My wife and I have a vacation rental out in the desert and we have a little resort in Thailand. My wife is from Thailand. And up until this point, neither had done very well. They were frankly both kinda black holes where if we broke even on them, I’d consider it a fairly good year. Well, I got to thinking… when you look at the advertising we had for it, you can see why.

Eric Hanscom, Resort Pamphlet

Anyway, I thought, you know, if I buy a drone and I fly over these places, maybe I can improve our advertising and sure enough, we went back to Thailand and I flew my drone around our place there and we went out to our place in the desert and I flew my drone around there. Pretty soon, we had much better pictures to show.

Eric Hanscom, Area around rentals in Thailand

When this stuff hit our website and our social media presence, all of a sudden, people started coming to our resort and visiting our vacation home and actually, things got so busy that my wife had to go back to Thailand for a couple of months and run the resort because it was too busy for the people there to handle by themselves.

The first thing I like to do with drones is to preserve… survey historical context of various situations. So, I’m fairly active in the attempts to preserve the Salton Sea here in California and so, I fly my drone over the Salton Sea to record how rapidly the shoreline is retreating.

Eric Hanscom, The Salton Sea

And I also have recorded the changes in the tilapia nests over time.

Eric Hanscom, Tilapia Nests in the Salton Sea

Tilapia are a fish, they are actually one of the only fish that has managed to survive in the Salton Sea after the Salton Sea has become saltier and saltier and as the water recedes, the nests are exposed and because of the various cyanobacteria that live there, they produce these marvellous colours which I have recorded for hopefully some PhD student sooner or later will decide that he or she wants to do a PhD on cyanobacteria and they’ll be able to use my footage.

Eric Hanscom, Cyanobacteria in the Salton Sea
Eric Hanscom, Cyanobacteria in the Salton Sea

The second thing I’ve recorded has been a volcano over in Iceland. Once the volcano erupted, I got my COVID shots as quickly as I could and I went over three times on three separate trips before the volcano has ceased to erupt and I recorded that. I kept studious notes of the dates and times that I was flying, I put it all up on YouTube, again with the hope that someday a volcanologist is going to be able to look  back and use some of my footage to figure out what was happening; why was the volcano erupting every six to eight minutes at first, then afterwards, why did the volcano stop erupting but rather seemed to send the lava underneath the cooled lava that was there from the first eruptions.

Eric Hanscom, Volcanic eruption in Iceland
Eric Hanscom, Volcanic eruption in Iceland
Eric Hanscom, Volcanic eruption in Iceland
Eric Hanscom, Volcanic eruption in Iceland
Eric Hanscom, Volcanic eruption in Iceland
Eric Hanscom, Volcanic eruption in Iceland

The second way I’ve used drones is to help out the monks in Thailand to do roof inspections. Now, as I have said, my wife is from Thailand and once we were back in Thailand, my father-in-law asked me to use my drone to fly over the roof of his house. He’d had some people put a roof on and it was leaking and he wanted me to find out why, so I flew my drone over the roof and, sure enough, found that they’d forgotten to replace one of the titles.

My brother-in-law, who was the monk at a temple at that point, he was watching the whole thing and he said, “Hey, can you come over and do the same thing at our temples?” because Thai temples have very steep roofs, as you can see in this picture here.

Eric Hanscom, Roof of Thai Temple

One of the main problems that the monks have is, without drones, they have to put these ladders up against the side of the temples, have a monk climb up with a notepad and take notes of how many roof tiles are cracked and what colours they are and what needs to be replaced, so anyway, we flew over his temple with our drone and took pictures and then we doctored them up a little bit to show what needed to be replaced and the monks were just delighted and they sent copies of these pictures to the central government and actually got a very generous grant to repair the roofs of their temples

Eric Hanscom, Temple Roof with Required Repairs
Eric Hanscom, Temple Roof Repaired

The last way that I use drones is to have fun on my travels and I have travelled to quite a few very, very interesting places, both on business and in pleasure and at least since 2015, I always take my drone along, and so I’ve been able to keep some very nice memories of some of the trips that I’ve taken.

Thank you for viewing my contribution, I appreciate it.

by Eric Hanscom
by Eric Hanscom
by Eric Hanscom
by Eric Hanscom
by Eric Hanscom
Paul Lakeman
Paul Lakeman, Nostalgia

There are many reasons why this particular unique bird’s eye view of La Rocque Harbour is one of my favourite drone images. 

On the slipway to the bottom right of the image, my mum had a catering van that sold sandwiches, pots of tea and ice creams in the ‘60s. In the summer, my uncle Bert came over from Birmingham to look after the deck chairs. I can still remember the smell of his pipe tobacco.

The first bench on the walk that leads down the harbour is in memory of my younger brother Christopher who tragically committed suicide and his and my elder brother John’s ashes were scattered from a boat at the end of the pier. John passed away after a long and courageous battle against cancer. He still loved a swim at La Rocque, even when he had lost much of his mobility.

It was just off the end of the pier that, as a young boy, I got into difficulties swimming and had to cling on to my father’s shoulders as he dragged me to safety.

For the last couple of years, we have been living in close proximity to the harbour and beaches and I have spent numerous sunrises, sunsets and hours in between taking photos with my camera and drone.

My wife Gill and I have spent long lazy days swimming and sunbathing on the main beach and the beaches behind the harbour. We have spent hours with the grandkids down in the rock pools and playing on the beach. Our family often get together at La Rocque. It is a very special place. 

This totally unique drone image was taken with special permission from the Air Traffic Control in Jersey. They allowed me to take my drone to 1200ft as the airport was closed due to Covid. (Paul).

Paul Lakeman, “Waves are the voices of tides. Tides are Life” Tamora Pierce

This drone image  was shot early one morning at St Ouen’s Bay, Jersey on a very high spring tide with permissions from the local Air Traffic Control as the area is very close to the airport. The conditions were almost perfect with little wind but a big swell coming in from the Atlantic. I had visualised the image of capturing the breaking waves on the sea wall. Many photos have been taken from the shore of the iconic Le Don Hilton, an ancient guard house and powder magazine that sits on the seawall. None had ever been taken from this angle, low down behind the waves. When the big waves hit the sea wall, there is a large bang and a vibration under foot, which I find both exciting and inspiring. I got the DJI Mavic Pro drone up in the air and set the camera capture to 5 shot burst mode, watched the waves roll in, pressed the shutter and this image was no 3 of the 5 shot burst. The image captured of the ‘White House’ from this totally unique perspective is still one of my very favourite drone captures. When I posted it up on social media, I had a number of comments asking if it was a photoshopped image and I took those comments as compliments. The image is a RAW file converted to jpeg, a one click edit with Luminar Ai. Right place at the right time maybe but considerable planning took place. You can see for yourself that nature offered a substantial reward for my efforts. There were a number of photographers down there that morning, but I was the only one fortunate enough to be able to see and capture this image. I have often tried to replicate this drone image with little success. The image has been printed in the local newspaper, magazines and I was interviewed on BBC Jersey about my drone photography following publication of the image. (Paul).

Paul Lakeman, Dream Time: Biophilia in the Twilight Zone

Research has shown that spending time embracing nature is beneficial to mental and physical health. This is another of my favourite images as it encapsulates the best aspects of living on a small beautiful island where you are never far from the sea. I can often be found down by Mont Orgueil Castle. In the twilight zone, it’s such a special time of the day for me, silent and always full of anticipation. The drone offers the chance of capturing the ever-changing hues as we say goodbye to night and welcome a new day. In this liminal period, I’m often completely alone. There are no demands on my time; it’s relaxing and blissful. Weather permitting, the drone is often high in the sky waiting for the sun to pop over the horizon on the adjacent coast of France. In these magical minutes, the scene can change in seconds. However, this day dawn seemed to hang around for ages. I’ve taken numerous drone images from this location but always feel blessed to be able to see and capture such an outstanding seascape and castle from a bygone age. The high vantage point the drone offers has been used to draw the viewer into the mystical scene. This is a moment in time that will never be repeated but my drone capture will ensure it is never forgotten. Picture postcard maybe but I make no apologies for sharing. (Paul).