The Great Polish Map of Scotland

A Wedding and a Great Map

We were recently asked to take aerial photographs at a wedding being held at Barony Castle Hotel, in the Scottish Borders.

It is fantastic to be able to provide photographs to help mark such a happy occasion.

Using a drone at a wedding is something different. It captures images that the photographer can’t get from the ground.

The working relationship between the photographer and the drone operator is key to a successful outcome. They work together, calling on each others experience, to ensure great photographs are captured.

Along with still images, the drone can capture video of the day from the air. When edited and processed the video is a fantastic reminder of the event.

Barony Castle Hotel is also home to The Great Polish Map of Scotland, also known as Mapa Scotland. The map is a large, outdoor, concrete scale model of Scotland, measuring 50x x 40m.

The map was built over six summers between 1974 and 1979. It was mainly the work of a small group of Poles from the Jagiellonian University of Poland.

You can read all about the map, and it’s history on the MAPA Scotland website.

The Great Polish Map of Scotland

But back to the wedding in this post!

Working with the wedding photographer allows a real sharing of knowledge to take place.

The drone pilot can draw on the photographers knowledge of image composition and setup.

It allows the photographer to ensure that the images from the drone are consistent with the theme and feel of the day that they are trying to achieve.

The drone pilot adds the experience of positioning the drone and how shots that are not possible from the ground can be achieved.

The drone pilot also knows the capabilities of the camera on the drone and can work with the photographer to achieve fantastic results.

The Great Polish Map was a challenge for the photographer, with a lot of shadows from the trees surrounding the map. The grass areas around the map are also close to the railings running around the map.

With the drone we could position its camera over the map itself which provided many additional options for image composition.

Brides on the bridge

There is a bridge over a small glen between the map and the hotel. This is a great opportunity for the drones abilities. Dropping the drone down between trees and hovering over the glen to capture a photograph of the happy couple on the bridge.

Wedding Party Overhead Image

The drone can also look straight down, making great shots like this possible.

During the photography session we were also able to take some video clips of the wedding party.

After editing, we combined the wedding party clips with footage of the map and hotel. By adding in some photographs with effects and transformations we created a short video of the occasion.

Music on a video like this needs to be personalised. We prefer to take time to discover the couples musical tastes and source music that matches. Much like a film, the music is an important part but the video needs to work with the musics beat and timing. Making sure transitions between clips happen at the right time, or using a sweeping shot where it works better with the music.

The location for the wedding was an opportunity we couldn’t miss doing more with.

We saw that the weather on the wedding day was likely to be overcast. With the permission of the hotel, we performed extra flights on the day before the wedding. This allowed us to capture some shots of the area when the weather was better.

It also allowed us to perform mapping flights over the map. Yes, we mapped the map!

The data from the mapping flights was then processed to generate orthomosaics from the images. Going further we were able to take the images from the short mapping flights and generate a 3D model of the map.

All of the extra footage we didn’t use for the wedding video didn’t go to waste either. We used clips from the flights on the day before the wedding to put together a short video of the Great Polish Map.

YouTube player

We have shared this data, and the various outputs, with Mapa Scotland, the charity who care for the Great Polish Map of Scotland. They hope to be able to use the various images and model for promotion of the map and charity.

Drones are very versatile tools. This is just one example where we have performed the main task of the day, the wedding, and gone on to generate much more from the images and video.

Get in touch to discuss your requirements, from photography and video creation to aerial mapping and 3D model generation.

Can a drone be used to inspect a roof?

Can a drone be used to inspect a roof?

In a single word, yes!

Whether the building is your home or a commercial building, a drone roofing inspection can be a great option to help when assessing the condition of the roof.

The high-resolution camera and the ability of the drone operator to position the drone at almost any point above the roof makes the drone a very useful tool for roof surveys.

In this post, we examine how a drone is an effective tool for roof surveys on both residential and commercial properties.

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What is the difference between a roof inspection and a roof survey?

There is an important difference between a roof inspection and a roof survey.

A roof inspection is an external visual assessment of the condition of the roof. It will examine the state of the roof covering, gutters and pipes, and other visible areas.

A roof survey is more detailed and is performed by a professional roofing company. They will assess the roof condition for water leaks/ingress, potential failure points, internal structural issues and other items.

This article discusses roof inspections.

When would a roof inspection be needed?

Roof condition inspections are required when there is a suspected problem with the roof. They are also performed when monitoring the roofs condition as part of a routine maintenance schedule.

A roof may need inspected when it has been damaged by weather or when buying or selling the property.

In these cases, someone will need to be able to see the roof up close and see as much of the roof as possible to assess its condition.

How is a roof inspection usually done?

A traditional roof inspection will involve a professional roofer physically gaining access to the roof and examining different areas of the roof. This may be as simple as the roofer using a ladder, and any skylight access when the roof is easy to access.

If the roof is higher or has poor access, you may need a scissor lift/cherry picker to give the roofer a platform for examining the roof. For a roof with very poor access the roofer may need to use scaffolding.

A roof inspection takes place at height which can never be completely safe. Qualified roofing companies will put in place training and safety procedures to make the process as safe as they possibly can.

Is a drone roof inspection safe?

Safety is one of the big benefits of using a drone for a roof inspection. The drone operator will normally be on the ground. The operator will be able to position the drone using both line of sight and the live video feed from the drone camera.

The drone never touches the roof. The high-resolution camera system means that it can take images from several metres away. This is an important point to consider if you are using a drone inspection to visualise a damaged roof that may be unstable.

Residential property roof inspection

A drone is a great way to visualise your roof when you need to look at problem areas. It is quick and safe. The image quality allows you to visualise areas of the roof that would normally be difficult to access.

A drone can, for example, provide excellent images of chimney stacks. A few drones have cameras that can look straight up, which is ideal for seeing underneath any overhangs.

Drone image of part of a residential property roof.

The number of images the drone operator takes will depend on your requirements. You may only need two or three images of a particular part of the roof, or you may require more images to cover the entire roof in detail.

If you are on-site with the drone operator then you can request particular images and angles. You can often see the images right away to ensure they meet your specific requirements.

Drones can also be used to take video clips of the roof. The drone could, for instance, provide a clip of a slow flight along the lines of guttering to allow you to check for blockages.

Other, often overlooked, aspects of a drone-based roof inspection is that you can ask the drone operator for images of other parts of the house. Maybe you have hard-to-reach windows which need repairs. The drone operator could take images of those at the same time to allow you to assess the state of repair.

Drones can also be equipped with thermal cameras that can provide even more information about the condition of the roof.

Commercial property roof inspection

All of the benefits of a residential, drone-based, roof inspection also apply to commercial buildings.

However, commercial property roof inspections differ from residential property roof inspections in a number of important ways.

Commercial inspections can form part of a regular maintenance inspection for the roof.

A drone can be used for routine imaging of the roof to help detect potential issues before they become serious. This allows the work to repair the affected area to be factored into a maintenance plan.

Aerial picture of commercial buildings.

Commercial buildings also tend to be much larger than residential properties. This makes using a drone to gather the images even more attractive.

The drone can fly for as long as the battery has a charge. Typically a drone used for roof inspections will have a flight time of around 25 minutes per battery. A good drone services company will always arrive on-site with multiple batteries per drone and with at least one backup drone.

For larger commercial buildings, the drone can be pre-programmed with a flight plan to cover the entire roof surface. This opens the possibility of creating a single image of a large roof area. This is done by stitching together multiple images to form a single image known as an orthomosaic. This technique is commonly used for imaging large areas of farmland or construction sites.

If there are multiple commercial buildings on the same site, then the drone operator can potentially image several buildings in a single visit.

All the captured images, and video, from the drone flights, can then be examined from the comfort of the office.

Can a drone be beneficial to a roofing company?

A drone can be a great tool for a roofing company to use to obtain roof images.

They can use the images to assess problematic areas of the roof surface before sending staff to repair them. They can also the images to spot areas of the roof which need to be surveyed in more detail.

Not every roofing company will be able to own and operate its own drones.

The funding for the drone itself is one element. The staff operating the drone also need to be trained and authorised for commercial flying.

The roofing company may also need specific authorisations from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to operate the drone. This represents an ongoing cost. There are also insurance requirements to consider when operating drones commercially.

Commercial drone operators are required to plan and risk assess every flight. This can be simple and quick. When more complex permissions to fly are required, or the building is close to hazards, the planning will take longer.

There are benefits to both the roofing company and the drone services company when they partner to provide services.

The roofing company can offer drone-based inspections as part of its services. This frees staff for other jobs since they’ll only need to look at the drone images in the first instance.

The drone services company will also have access to qualified roofing professionals. This allows them to provide reports on roofing images for their clients.

Can a roof inspection help progress an insurance claim?

If you are looking for help in supporting a claim to your insurer, or if you are an insurer looking for quick visualisation of damage, a drone is an ideal way to gather images.

House damaged by falling tree

If you need extra information to support a claim, a drone inspection can be a quick option. The images can be included with your claim to support the other details you provide. Obtaining the images will be quick and the insurer will be able to examine the high-resolution images.

For the insurance company, a drone operator can be on-site quickly. They can image the roof to your requirements, and send the images directly to you. Images can be sent from the site or immediately after post-processing.

How much does a drone roof inspection cost?

It may be a standard answer, but the cost of a drone-based roof inspection varies from company to company.

The cost could be as little as £200 for a small number of images of a residential property. For a large commercial property the cost could start at around £450. The quoted price will always reflect your specific requirements.

There are several items that affect the price.

Like any professional service, the level of certification and authorisation the drone services company holds will affect the price.

A cheaper quote could indicate that the company holds basic certification such as the A2 Certificate of Competency (A2CofC).

A higher cost quote could indicate the company holds an operational authorisation from the CAA. This would be the General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC).

Note that the company may currently operate under a Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) from the CAA. This was the commercial certification used prior to the recent regulation changes which introduced the GVC. Companies that use the PfCO will be moving to the GVC certification.

Companies that hold a PfCO or GVC level of certification are regulated by the CAA.

Any drone company offering commercial services is required to have specific commercial drone insurance cover in place.

The location of the building to be inspected is a key pricing item since it affects both the travel costs and the pre/on-site planning of the inspection.

Planning for a drone flight will look at the location, assess the risks of the site, and determine the required permissions for the drone flight. The drone services company will normally obtain the necessary permissions. If the permissions are complex then this could increase planning time and increase the cost.

Your requirements also have an impact on costs. How many images do you need? Are the images being supplied as-is or do they need post-processing? Does you need a video of the roof? Does you need any extra reporting on the findings? These are just examples, you should always discuss your specific requirements with the drone services company.

It is normal for drone services companies to provide free quotations. You can get in touch with one, or more, and ask for a quote. This will allow you to compare services and is the simplest way to determine how much the inspection will cost.

Most drone services companies are happy to answer questions and provide free information.


View of house from a drone, looking straight down.

The aim of this post is to provide enough information to help you decide if using a drone to inspect a roof is a possible option for you.

A drone is a fantastic tool for visualising places that are at height or difficult to reach. A drone can be used where the roof is damaged. It can also be used as part of a regular maintenance inspection.

By working with a drone services company you should be able to easily get images you need.

Using a drone for a roof inspection is safe, normally very quick and the cost will usually be far lower than hiring a roofing company to physically look at the roof.

When you need a more detailed roof survey the drone operator can partner with a professional roofing company to provide a complete survey service.

So, the answer to “Can a drone be used to survey a roof?” is an emphatic Yes!