drone photography Frankfurt banking district skyscrapers

Drone Photography and Aerial Photography in Frankfurt

Thanks to increasingly innovative drone technology, architectural photography has long been established in three-dimensional space as well. Impressive presentations of existing properties for marketing, documentation of construction projects, and urban panoramic shots for building visualizations are just a few of the applications for which architects and project developers count on professional drone photographers today.

What Makes Camera Drones so Irreplaceable?

First and foremost, using camera drones means freedom. In principle, it’s like setting up your tripod for a shot in mid-air. You position the flying eye freely in three-dimensional space until you find the perfect view for an ideal image composition of an object. Or one takes the exact position and perspective above a building site from which a person will later enjoy the view over the city from the 25th floor. Such views are needed, for example, to integrate them as background in 3D interior visualizations of planned buildings. In order to implement these views as precisely as possible in terms of position, height, viewing angle and position of the sun, the drone pilot and 3D studio coordinate carefully in advance.

When it comes to exterior views of large-scale construction sites, panoramic images provide the ideal basis for integrating entire large-scale construction projects into the real landscape as 3D renderings. Such images usually consist of up to 24 high-resolution individual images, which are combined into a panoramic image in post-processing.

Drone footage achieves its maximum effect in the filmic realm. Because it is incomparable to experience views of architecture and surroundings through a flight in 3-dimensional space. No photography, no matter how successful, enables such an emotional perception. Especially when flying through interior spaces, cinematic shots are created that can only be realized with great technical effort without a drone. Such cinematic architectural shots are mostly used in corporate films, project documentations or real estate marketing on a high level. In many cases, drone shots are also combined with tripod shots for this purpose, in order to have a versatile selection of image settings available for editing. In this video you can see how freely a flying camera can move in urban space.

In order to make maximum use of this freedom, a high level of expertise is required. Depending on how extensive a drone operation, or production scope is, a professional drone pilot must bring a correspondingly extensive skill set to the start. This is because he should not only be experienced as a pilot, but also as a flight operations planner, camera operator and specialist in final image or video editing.

Drone photography Frankfurt One Forty West Panorama
©2022 Thomas Gessner

The Airspace Over Frankfurt - Anything But a Playground

Frankfurt offers a unique environment for the use of camera drones due to its diverse construction projects and spectacular scenery. Currently, 29 high-rise buildings are under construction and 23 more are under evaluation. With the new Terminal 3, the most modern terminal in Europe is being built and a multitude of exciting residential projects are continuously being realized in the city area as well as in the surrounding countryside.

But due to its compactness, population density and especially its proximity to the airport, it is becoming increasingly costly to be able to conduct drone flights in the urban area. In 2019, the new EU-Drone-Regulation was established, which is fully binding since Jan. 1, 2022, except for a few final exceptions. An entire book could be written about the significance of this situation for commercial drone pilots. But a short description of the essential circumstances should at this point provide a better understanding also for those who want to or have to resort to services of drone pilots in the future.

For a Drone Photographer in Frankfurt (and also in all other urban areas), the planning scope of flight operations with professional camera drones above a certain weight class has virtually exploded due to the new EU-Regulations. What was feasible more than a year ago by means of a simple special permit from the Landesluftfahrtbehörde (state aviation authority) must now be applied for in certain cases by means of an extensive operating description and an air and ground risk analysis. In short, the regulations are largely based on those of manned aviation and apply equally to every aerial photographer in Frankfurt, Paris or Barcelona. This inevitably drives up the time and cost factor for issuing such special permits. After all, an application for flight operations within a high risk class can easily comprise up to 80 pages, depending on the scope of the planned drone operation. The EU-Regulation poses major challenges for commercial drone pilots from all sectors to plan and implement drone projects accordingly. This is understandable in view of the increasingly dense airspace that we will have to share with DHL-Drones, Edeka-Drones or even air cabs in the future. But the feasibility of the EU-Regulations still leaves many questions open on the part of drone manufacturers, drone pilots and certainly also the responsible authorities.

drone photography Frankfurt Messeturm Europaviertel skyscrapers
©2022 Thomas Gessner

Open Spaces and Opportunities for Inner-City Flight Operations

So let’s talk about freedom again. Or rather, the possibilities for operating drones in urban areas in compliance with the EU-Regulation. What, where and how drones can be flown depends on the drone weight class and the risk categorization of the flight operation. The lighter a drone, the fewer restrictions, or specifications, need to be observed. The same applies to size of population density and sensitivity of infrastructures within the operating zones.

For the operation of small camera drones under 250 grams, there are no major restrictions and regulations, except for those that already had to be observed before the EU-Regulation came into force. In this drone weight class, it is currently allowed to take pictures in the city center without further ado. The camera technology of such small drones is now very well suited for creating photo shots of convincing quality for online presentations. However, for sophisticated processing of 3D visualizations or even video productions, one should resort to professional camera drones. Their weight classes are generally between 900 grams and 4 kilograms and are subject to increasingly strict regulations.

In many areas of urban space, flights with drones over 250 grams can be conducted within the so-called “Open Category”. The open category includes flight maneuvers and operating areas that pose a manageable risk to uninvolved persons. Here, the drone pilot bears sole responsibility for compliance with rules that are valid for his or her respective drone weight category. From a take-off weight of 900 grams, the “EU-Fernpilotenzeugnis Klasse A2” (EU remote pilot certificate class A2) is also mandatory and uninvolved persons may no longer be flown over. Of course, an experienced drone pilot designs his flight planning in such a way that he can complete his flights within this category.

It only becomes complex when the planned flight operation can no longer take place in the “Open Category” due to certain risk factors. Example: a high-rise building in the city center is to be flown around for video recordings at a height of 100 meters with a drone weighing 1 kilogram. In this case, it would be very costly to minimize the risk to uninvolved persons within the flight zone to an acceptable level in the event of an emergency (crash). One would have to apply for a permit for the “Special Category” of the EU-Regulation for this and follow the corresponding safety requirements.

As already mentioned, the regulations and specifications for this category are based on the regulations for manned aviation. As a result, even for a short 1-hour drone operation, an operational description and an air and ground risk analysis must be prepared, which may take 1-2 days to complete (excluding inspection by the State Aviation Office and any revisions).

Drone photography Frankfurt Messeturm skyscrapers
©2022 Thomas Gessner

All regulations are mainly relevant for flights in public areas. If the flight takes place on private property, a construction site, a company site or even indoors, you are operating in a controllable operating area, in which only the rules of the “Open Category” must be observed.

At the end of the day, it is up to the tactical intelligence of the drone pilot to organize his operating areas and options in such a way that he enjoys as much freedom as possible in implementing his flight maneuvers.

About The Author

Thomas Gessner is a Cooperation Partner of SKYLINE ATLAS and has been carrying out drone projects on behalf of renowned architects and project developers in the city of Frankfurt for several years. More info about him can be found at:

More Drone Productions in Frankfurt

©2022 Thomas Gessner

©2022 Thomas Gessner

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