Kommetjie has always been a favorite spot of mine in Cape Town. Great surf and amazing people make it a place worth visiting to escape the hustle of bustle of University life in Cape Town. A thirty minute drive from the city centre along some of the best roads in the country can hardly put you in a bad mood. I suppose it also doesn’t hurt that it puts on some great golden hours in both the AM and the PM.
Recently, myself and a couple friends decided to take a drive down to Kommetjie for some sundowners and a possible Instagram post. With some promising looking cloud covering the sky we knew that we should be in for a cracking sunset that would live up to the typical Cape Town fashion. I suppose that it also didn’t hurt that the wind was hovering around 10 knots meaning that a drone flight would of course be imminent. Kommetjie has no tall buildings, hardly any air traffic and an amazing light house which make it a drone pilots paradise.
I unpacked the drone, set everything up and took off. This was about 40 minutes before the sun would go down behind the horizon so I figured that I would have plenty of time to get some nice footage before it got too dark. I took the drone up and down the coast, filming the swell as well as some of the people waving as the drone went past. My favorite part however, was circling the light house with the light spinning in the opposite direction inside. There is just something about filming a lighthouse that makes it so worth it, regardless if its with a drone or with a handheld camera.
The sky progressively became more and more orange and I knew that the footage that I was getting was going to be a joy to edit. And then, of course, the inevitable happened. My second battery had 10 minutes of flight time left. So I proceeded to make the most of it and quickly filled up my memory card trying to get as many pictures and video clips in as possible until the battery reached it’s ‘return to home’ point. I landed the drone and began to take apart the propellers and control and pack them into the box. As always, I opened up my phone to look at the pictures I had gotten from the DJI App and felt pleased with the outcome of this quick drone mission.
It was only when I looked up, that I realized just how grave of a mistake I had made with planning this flight. The image below was the view that I was now looking at. I had used up all of my battery and the majority of my memory card space, before one of the greatest sunsets that I have seen in a very long time, had taken place. So of course, with no DSLR on hand and a drone with no juice left, I was forced to have to make do with my phone. Thankfully the iPhone has a pretty decent camera, but this did not make up for the loss I felt inside from having missed capturing some of the greatest drone footage of golden hour that I will be able to get for a fair while with the upcoming storms and wind that Cape Town is renowned for.
I think it’s safe to say that this is a lesson learnt. In the future, I’m going to have to change my return to home battery level to slightly higher so that I’ve always got a little bit of charge left incase something like this happens again. Hopefully that way, I’ll be able to make sure that when another sunset comes up like this one, I’ll be able to capture it from the sky.