Drone Provides Lake Panorama Aerial Photos

This aerial view starts at Boulder Cove and continues northwest to Lake Panorama’s upper basin.An aerial view of the dam that makes Lake Panorama a lake.A pontoon heads to Coulter Marine past the Lake Panorama lighthouse. Golfers on the #4 hole at Lake Panorama National on a sunny October morning, with a view of the main basin to the east. A view of Lake Panorama that begins at the main basin and continues northwest to the upper basin.

By Susan Thompson

Some of my favorite photos of Lake Panorama are those that have been taken from the window of an airplane. At least a couple of times, local residents have taken to the skies to capture sweeping aerial views of Lake Panorama and the surrounding area.

With the advent of remote-controlled drones, aerial photography has entered an entirely new era. One Sunday last October, Dronography Iowa was hired to take aerial photos of specific sites at Lake Panorama.

The cost was divided between the Lake Panorama Association, Lake Panorama National, and Friends of Lake Panorama. The idea was the photos could be used on websites and in promotional materials, plus be of general interest to Lake Panorama property owners.

A total of 194 photos recently were added to a photo album on the LPA’s Facebook pages under the title “Fall 2016 Drone Photos.” Dronography Iowa owners Nicholas Nystrom and Tyler Stevens started the business in 2014. 

“It started off as a hobby, just flying for fun. We became very good at flying the drones, and doing our first real estate shoot gave us the bug to make it a business. We soon realized there is a need for aerial photos and videos,” says Nystrom. “Whether it is real estate, music festivals, commercials or action sports, there are so many great opportunities, and the possibilities are endless.”

The pair currently does about 200 real estate shoots a year, which range in price from $150 to $250. This includes 10-15 photos and usually one or two video profiles. 

“Some aspects of what we do can be accomplished in 10 minutes but that's not typical,” says Stevens. “That doesn’t include the post production we are doing to the photos and edits to video. We can be in and out of our client’s hair in that time, but more is happening after the shoot.”

Other shoots such as the 80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines take several hours over several days. “Last summer we were the official 80/35 Music Festival Dronographers,” Nystrom says. “We shot both days and got some amazing photos and videos. We are looking forward to shooting that again this year.” 

The pair does many custom projects, all of which are priced individually. For instance, they shot for all nine Shottenkirk Automotive Dealerships around the Midwest, so all the company’s commercials feature Dronography Iowa drone footage.

Dronography Iowa is a part-time gig for Nystrom and Stevens. They have a Waukee address, but don’t have a storefront. Rather, they direct potential clients to a contact form on their website at www.dronographyiowa.com. They also have a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dronographyiowa. Some shots of the lighthouse near the Lake Panorama marina are featured on the company’s Facebook page.

Besides the photo album on the LPA Facebook page, aerials from the October 2016 shoot are used in LPA newsletters and the LPA and Lake Panorama National websites. There is a wide variety of photos available, with images of the main basin, the dam, both golf courses, the three beaches, both campgrounds, the new Cory sediment basin and the Helen’s Cove/Donahey wetland, plus shots of various areas up and down the Lake Panorama channel.

Photos of the new Sunset Beach playground, plus a 45-second video “flyover” of Sunset Beach set to music, can be found on the Friends of Lake Panorama website here: www.friendsoflakepanorama.org/sunset-beach-playground