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Take Your Aerial Photography to the Next Level

Learn to fly, photograph, and edit with Isaac Crabtree, of North Woods Aerial and Down East Adventures.

Isaac Crabtree has been teaching science at Greenville High School for the past 12 years, and while he has always been interested in taking pictures, it wasn’t until he flew a drone for the first time in 2017 that his interest in technology and the outdoors were combined into a passion for aerial photography. As a life-long learner, Isaac quickly dove into the “University of YouTube,” where he began to understand the connection between the art and science of photography.

 Isaac Crabtree, of North Woods Aerial

Isaac loves capturing the rugged beauty of northern Maine from a new perspective. Aside from being just plain fun to fly, he loves the freedom offered from a drone. Isaac enjoys the places aerial photography takes him. Whether a pre-dawn hike to the top of a mountain for a sunrise flight, or a long dirt road to capture a generations-old family camp, aerial photography has allowed him to explore parts of our state many will likely never see.

Since 2017, he has flown nearly a thousand miles over hundreds of hours. His photos have been featured across numerous social media platforms, in print, and in galleries. He is a two-time finalist in the Maine Outdoor Film Festival’s Broke and Stoke competition. Isaac lives in the Moosehead Lake Region with his wife and daughter. He loves exploring Maine and sharing the beauty it has to offer from a different perspective.

Isaac Crabtree’s Fast Lane Frostbite, was a finalist at the 2019 Maine Outdoor Film Festival.

We talked with Isaac to get more insight into his drone photography background and some of his favorite spots to fly.

How long have you been flying drones?

Three years in April if you don’t count those mini-helicopters that my brother and I would get for Christmas and promptly crash and destroy.

What’s the biggest learning curve for drone photography?

Learning how to compose an image properly. It’s so easy to fly up 400 feet and shoot. It’s much harder (and riskier) to resist that urge and stay low, but it’s the only way to work in a foreground.

Where’s the worst place you’ve ever gotten a drone stuck?

Never stuck, though I’ve crashed twice. Once I hit a tree branch over the shore of a lake and watched the drone tumble about 10 feet before it leveled out and resumed hovering. Another time I was filming some video for a client and had to turn off my obstacle avoidance to get a shot. That time when I hit the tree it was so cold that the props shattered. The drone fell about 30 feet into the snow. It took about 20 minutes to find the drone and required some wading through waist-high snow, but after a quick dusting and replacement of the props it was as good as new. 

We live in such a beautiful state, where are your favorite places to fly?

I’d sooner name my favorite child (Ruby, obviously, but she’s an only child). I suppose I could list a few of my top spots, in no particular order.  

  • The Onawa Trestle: A stunning place that has so many options for various compositions. I find new shots every time I fly there.  
  • Mountain Peaks: For me, specifically Borestone, but any mountain top is great to stretch the 400 feet above ground level allowed by the FAA.
  • Moosehead Lake: Islands, boaters, and mountains make for great subjects. Being that ginormous gives endless opportunities for exploration.
  • The Coast: When I can get over my mistrust of traffic lights (I can go weeks without seeing one up in the North Woods), I do like to make my way south to find some salt water. My time here is generally limited so I tend to seek out the classics.

Sign up for our July 18, 2020 Drone Photography Workshop with Isaac Crabtree.

Are you new to aerial photography or would like to take your aerial photography to the next level? Learn to fly, photograph, and edit with Isaac Crabtree, of North Woods Aerial. These workshops will be focused on the picturesque midcoast of Maine, with sunrise and sunset flights planned in the Camden and Rockport areas, where we will attempt to capture unique vantages of some iconic Maine imagery. There will also be classroom time focused not only on planning, shooting, and editing, but also on some of the nitty-gritty where it comes to flying commercially (and legally). As a full-time teacher and part-time aerial photographer, Isaac is excited to merge his two passions to help you hone your skills in this fun and developing photographic art form. The schedule for the day begins well before sunrise, where we will meet at the best location given weather conditions. Each participant will have a chance to fly their drone with one-on-one guidance. We will then head to the classroom for editing, discussion, and critiques. After lunch and a break, we will meet at a second location to plan and execute a golden hour and sunset shoot. Lessons are limited to 5 people.

See upcoming Down East Adventures!