Exploring the South Downs of England with the Mavic Pro

Flying out in to the sea

Southern England offers stunning coastline views overlooking the English Channel with towering white cliffs and the rolling hills of the South Downs extending beyond. The South Downs National Park covers an area of over 600 square miles, stretching from Winchester in the west, to East Bourne in the east.

An old barn in the fields
An old barn in the fields

Just a short drive away from London, the South Downs offers an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of city life with a chance to decompress in a beautiful landscape filled with hills, meadows, and quaint local villages.

Also, there are over 1,800 miles of public pathways to explore, which lend themselves to incredible aerial patterns from the sky. If only you had a portable drone that folds to roughly the size of a water bottle. Well, the Mavic Pro is just that drone!

Cuckmere river valley at sunset
Cuckmere river valley at sunset

Whenever I venture into the countryside – be it for a hike, mountain biking, or just a family day out – I always take my Mavic Pro with me. Small and compact, it’s ready to take to the skies at a moments notice. I just throw into my bag and go. As the slogan suggests, you literally can take it with you ‘wherever you go’ – just bring it out when the feeling strikes.

Patterns left in the fields by heavy machinery
Patterns left in the fields by heavy machinery

What I love about the Mavic Pro is that despite its size, at its heart lies an incredibly powerful drone with a high-quality 4K camera, a 3-axis mechanical gimbal, an impressive 4.3 mi (7 km) transmission range, and an app full of intelligent flight features. The Mavic Pro’s max flight time to is not too shabby too, clocking in at a healthy 27 minutes – plenty of time to get your droning done.

Personally speaking though, the incredible transmission range is of particular importance to the way I like to drone. Because I can fly so far, I can explore so much more either out at sea or when tracking the coastline without losing signal. Battery life is so good that with two I can max out close to an hour in the sky with one pit stop to refuel.

Flying in the countryside is one of my favorite things because I get lost in the experience of seeing the world from above. High above, I become fully immersed and don’t worry too much about technical things like smooth maneuvers. But the Mavic Pro is also equipped with a host of flight safety features that make flying an enjoyable, worry-free experience. In a way, this set up allows me to focus on finding and composing the perfect shot.

Stone steps of a war memorial in the English city of Brighton and Hove
Stone steps of a war memorial in the English city of Brighton and Hove

Five cameras power the Mavic’s obstacle avoidance system, while ultrasonic sensors come into play when navigating an uneven, hilly terrain. The coastline can be quite windy, but the drone remains stable and in control even in a moderate wind. If the wind speed does pick up, my Mavic will let me know right away via the DJI GO app so that I can bring it back down safely.

The South Downs offer a unique opportunity to explore nature from an aerial perspective but most importantly provides a safe place to fly a drone.

When flying, I tend to look for features or geometric shapes or patterns that I couldn’t possibly fathom from the ground. This is where the mystery of your surroundings unravel – a whole new dimension reveals itself from the air. Human-made structures, roads, and pathways become the scarred arteries of our landscapes.

Cuckmere river meanders and chalk grasslands
Cuckmere river meanders and chalk grasslands

Different times of the day can quite literally cast the same scene in a different light. I prefer flying at Golden Hour – those few minutes before a sunrise or sunset bloom into day or night. The soft light at this time offers beautifully warm textures that cast long dramatic shadows.

Golden Hour is also a perfect time to drone because there isn’t anyone about, so you have more freedom to explore the landscape on your own. English weather is not very good at the best of times, but it’s always better to get out there and try than to stay on the couch.

I prefer to travel lightly, taking as little as possible. The whole benefit of the Mavic Pro is its portability. Therefore, my iPhone and the Mavic Pro is all I need. If it’s going to be a long day, I’ll take an extra battery with me as well, but that’s it.

Azure sea under the cliffs
Azure sea under the cliffs

I love being able to share the jaw-dropping natural beauty that comes into focus from above. I love letting people see the familiar sights and landscapes from a different perspective. I also feel that technology is at a point where it has become completely seamless with our lives; it’s not something you make an effort for because it’s more an extension of yourself. It’s this that gives us the ability to express ourselves in ways like never before.

 

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Ivan is a designer based in Europe who loves new and emerging technology. Buying his first drone has reignited his passion for photography, offering him an opportunity to see things from the whole new perspective.