New Braunfels & Texas Hill Country Drone Services & Photography
Hi, I am Jonathan Gulick and I started 2nd Career Drone Services in December 2020. In my 1st career, I worked as an engineer for a major international oil and gas company and its acquired companies in office, rig-site and shipyard locations in the US and other countries. My upstream work involved three main areas: Drilling & Completions – design, planning and execution; Performance & knowledge management; Deepwater rig selection, build and start-up. My downstream engineering work involved maintaining retail locations and their underground storage tank, piping and fuel dispensing systems located in the mid-Atlantic part of the US.
My interest in aviation is even longer than my 1st career. While in no specific order, my experience has ranged from building and flying two radio controlled planes on over 150 flights, flying full-scale gliders with an instructor, undergoing flight instruction and completing 7 solo flights in a Cessna 172S, completing 4 dual instruction flights in 3 types of helicopters, flying in the “right seat” of several different privately owned single engine airplanes and completing numerous “left seat” flights in corporate and utility helicopters. I used a camera on many of these flights to capture unique images from the air.
With the development of relatively low cost drones with sophisticated flight control systems and high quality cameras, I have been able to combine my interest in photography and flying through the use of a DJI Mavic 2 Zoom (M2Z) drone. The camera and software on this drone produce high quality photographs and videos.
I hold a valid FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot certificate for small unmanned aircraft systems. My drone is registered with the FAA. I am a current member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).
At present, I am not charging for my services as my focus at this time is to gain experience using my DJI Mavic 2 Zoom to capture imagery to build a portfolio which includes content for this website. What I may ask for is permission to show the photos and videos I capture with the drone in this website. I have video editing software which enables me to include text information, transitions and instrumental music tracks. See example videos near the bottom of the Photo and Video Gallery page.
Aerial photographs and videos captured near ground level or higher often result in unique perspectives that are appreciated by many. Should you have a property or structure in which you’d like “at height” imagery, please contact me and I will arrange to meet with you to talk about and look at what I may be able to do with my Mavic 2 Zoom drone for you.
Before diving into this subject, I note the term “drone” is generically used to cover unmanned aircraft, flown remotely (pilot could be several feet or thousands of miles away) which perform a multitude of different missions. As point of note, there are also autonomously operated unmanned aircraft which do not require the use of a remote pilot. They fly based upon pre-programmed flight and navigation requirements and parameters and are not the subject of this “page”.
Other terminology is used to refer to “drones”. The FAA uses - Unmanned Aircraft System or UAS. Some people use Quadcopter or Multirotor. Not all drones have four upward facing propellers. Some have more. Some look like airplanes or helicopters. Drones can range in size from something that can be held in the palm of a person’s hand to “full scale” airplanes or helicopters weighing thousands of pounds.
I sometimes use “drone” within this website as it is a commonly understood term for a small remotely piloted unmanned aircraft used to capture pictures or videos. My preference is UAS or specific reference to the type of UAS I fly, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom which I abbreviate M2Z.
FAA classifies drone flyers in four (4) groups:
- Recreational Flyers and Modeler Community – Based Organizations
- Certified Remote Pilots and Commercial Operators
- Public Safety & Government Users
- Educational Users
I fly under Certified Remote Pilots and Commercial Operators classification. For the drone I fly and how I use it, I am typically limited to daylight flights to an altitude no higher than 400 feet above ground level (AGL) and a distance of no more than 3 statute miles (SM) away . I must maintain visual line of sight (VLOS) with my drone which includes being able to see the direction it is headed and its orientation with corrective lenses, but no other visual enhancements. Some exceptions to the rules can be obtained, but require FAA approval. There are other rules pertaining to drone operations and flying which can be found by accessing the link to the FAA Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) website found near the bottom of the Contact & Links page.
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom (M2Z) with its battery, weighs about 2 lbs. and has a typical flight duration of about 20 minutes which leaves about 25% battery power remaining to safely land with reserve battery energy. With propellers extended, the M2Z is about 17.25 inches long, 20.5 inches wide and 4 inches high. Each of the four sets of propellers (2 blades per set) measures about 8-3/4 inches in diameter. DJI notes the M2Z can operate in winds up to 20 mph, however, I prefer to fly the M2Z in lower wind speed conditions.
The M2Z has a sophisticated onboard flight control and obstacle avoidance systems which, in addition to being wirelessly linked to the Remote Controller, communicates with GPS navigation satellites. When flying close to obstacles, I install propeller guards on the M2Z which, due to their weight, reduce the flight time of the “drone”. Of further note, the M2Z has pre-programmed “Intelligent Flight Modes” which are typically used when recording video.
The M2Z has a fully stabilized 3-axis gimbal camera with an equivalent 24-48mm 2x optical zoom lens capable of shooting 4K videos and 12-megapixel photos. Use of the M2Z camera must be planned to optimize use of natural light on the subject. Weather conditions impact natural lighting, with sunny days and overcast days creating different light conditions as do seasonal positions of the sun. Depending on how the subject is oriented, it may be best to capture images in the morning or afternoon.
I use a DJI Remote Controller to communicate with the M2Z. This controller has a touch screen display measuring about 4-3/4 inches x 2-3/4 inches. It also has two “joysticks” to control the M2Z in flight and various buttons and rotary wheels to control the camera and other features as well as to access information.
I can share imagery with those I fly for of their property via USB memory devices or email and by links to YouTube videos. I am learning how to use video editing software to edit clips, add text, transitions and instrumental music tracks. Go to the Photo & Video Gallery page and scroll down to see videos which show this. I do not critique what I see in the imagery.