Mapping huge sites like this isn't easy because it involves a ridiculous number of high res images which must be processed online to create larger maps.... which must be edited in After Effects or Photoshop. Depending on your end goal. Mine is film, so I use After Effects.
How big is this solar site?
It is 200 acres.
When I walk the perimeter it is 2.74 miles.
It is an enjoyable walk but there has been much animal death in the name of 'progress'.
But let's not talk about that hey. I know I am a hypocrite taking their money when I've seen the truth. Yet at the same time I can appreciate the beautiful perfection in the inevitable cycle of death. And photograph it to pay it the respect it deserves.
I remember with clarity the moment the site manager told me the badgers had been served their eviction notice. Unlike the other animals which were just blitzed with chemicals from day 1, the badgers were given one month to vacate due to some old English law.
Sounds ridiculous I know but I'm telling you the truth.
I could show you pictures of dead badgers but instead I will show you this.
Better to focus on the good stuff.
How does drone mapping work?
The drone flies on a pre-set path and takes a shit load of pictures.
A single image looks like this at the maximum height of 400ft.
I use an overlap of 80% which may sound like a lot but when taking 'satellite' inconsistencies and sudden gusts of wind into account it is needed.
What this means is that it takes a LONG TIME to map even just a small section of the site.
Here was my final mapping sequence from yesterday. 20min flight time, 45 images. 3h online processing. Even just for this 'tiny' last part of the field, seen top left.
The blue dot is where I am now. Where I've been living. The yellow line was my flight path.
This 'little' map for example took just under an hour to photograph, requiring two batteries and 300 images. And let's not forget the 24h of online processing.
Add to this the problem that only for one hour each day (midday to 1pm) the modules horizontal, in the ideal position for mapping. Making this time of day the ONLY time of day to create this map. I was totally at the mercy of the weather and for sure had to break a few safety rules flyinging in light rain to get this done.
My heart was beating like motherfu..er I can tell you! But the drone is still in one piece and was not affected by the light rain. God Bless you my Mavic Pro 2.
It is a long old process & cold too! Especially when the light is low and the drone must fly super slow to account for this and maintain a crisp image.
The resolution is MEGA.
What when the mapping is done?
So, when I get home I feed the images into MapsMadeEasy (before backing them up of course) and then I wait...
...and then wait some more
And finally, I wait some more...
In this moment I am waiting for the last part to be processed so that I may send a finished map to the boss, hopefully tonight.
For those of you who missed it, here's me in the early days of learning to do drone mapping.
No doubt you will hear from me again when this google earth shot is finished!
See how beautiful it looks?
Remember to focus on the good stuff.
Who is @samstonehill?