Eye in the Sky


Emu Plains photographer Jim McGrath has seen parts of the local community many of us dream about. He has given us a bird’s eye view of the beautiful landscape that we live in, thanks to his amazing aerial photography.

“I have been doing Aerial Photography as a fulltime pursuit for just over a year now, however for over a decade I have been an avid photographer and aerial mapper” explained Jim to the Emu and Leonay Gazette.

“For years I have been using historical maps and aerial photography as well as current maps to discover and plot places of historical significance which have ‘disappeared’ with developments or progress” he continued.

Jim successfully mapped and published an expose on the Emu Plains – Warragamba Aerial Ropeway that was used to provide the gravel in the dams’ construction.

He had previously considered a move into professional drone work. Lockdown gave him the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate his career, leading Jim to explore the aviation side of photography.

“Fortunately, I was able to capitalise on my existing knowledge of photography and grow the business rapidly into providing commercial, real estate and personal aerial, 360° and traditional photography services” he said.
Aerial photography is a skilled operation that can be nerve-racking.

“You only have finite battery life (around 30 mins in total per battery!) to get the drone up and into position, frame shots and get them “just right” before you need to do it all again with a new battery.

“All the while, you are constantly having to assess and navigate wind drift, potential obstacles, transmission drop-outs, birds trying to attack the drone (yes, really!) and most importantly maintaining CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) safety operating guidelines” Jim stated.

When it comes to areas to photograph, Jim believes you can’t beat the Nepean Valley and Blue Mountains.

“The areas are rich in so much indigenous, colonial and post federation history and natural beauty, that not much comes close to. There is always something new to document or discover and by air it gives a fresh perspective to areas we otherwise think we know. The ability to capture new angles with a drone is what keeps it interesting and we are fortunate to have so many natural and man-made landmarks and beauty almost in our own backyard” he ended.

For more information about Jim and his work, visit MountainScape Aerial Photography on Facebook.

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