I stumbled on Dimitar Karanikolov’s work when putting together an article about top Behance projects. Something very particular caught my eye – a stunning collection of drone shot images of Inle Lake and Bagan. The familiar city on water which I’ve visited many times and ancient temples were neatly presented from a bird’s eye view. Certainly put things into perspective.
It is this collection that led me to discover Dimitar’s work – cities like Venice, Sofia and Bagan embellish the architect’s portfolio from a completely new vantage point. Today we get to hear from Dimitar himself, the story of experimenting with drones and his ongoing project of cities as seen from above.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional background.
I’m an architect and amateur photographer since I’ve never studied photography and I only do it when I’m in the mood for it. I worked in Rotterdam and London for almost 10 years, now I‘m based in Sofia, Bulgaria but I love traveling and I’m on the move for several months per year.
Do you remember the first time you took your drone for test shots? What was that like?
I was helping a friend – travel photographer who wanted to make a short movie about a remote village in the Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria. He needed several opening aerial shots for the movie, but we couldn’t find any drone pilot so I took a crash course, bought a drone and within a week I was “flying”.
Using a drone is always exciting and every time I feel like a little boy navigating a remote controlled helicopter – it’s fun!
Drone photography makes us look differently at the world. What value do you think this unusual vantage points gives viewers and the kind of effect it has on us?
I especially love top down aerial photos, these straight down projection is very architectural – almost like a plan view, like a drawing – no perspective, no horizont – you capture familiar places and buildings in a very unusual angle – completely different form the human point of view. Some things and scenarios that look pretty ordinary from the ground, sometimes look much more exciting from above – and vice versa.
How do you choose which cities you’ll photograph in? Is this an ongoing project?
I improvise most of the time – don’t do much planning. I just travel and search for interesting places on the go.
It’s wonderful that you’ve been to Inle Lake! How was your trip to Burma?
Inle lake in Myanmar probably was the best place for aerial photography I’ve been to so far. The amazing floating villages and gardens in the lake look even more impressive from the air. And I’ve never before seen aerial pictures of that place.
More photos of Inle lake here.
Myanmar is a diverse and very interesting country photography wise as every region is completely unique – different landscapes, different cultures and people – lots to see and take pictures of!
What kinds of ideas do you wish to translate with your current work?
My photography work hasn’t got a particular subject or a theme: people, landscapes, streets, aerials, architecture, abstract – I like to experiment with all of it and also with using different cameras: mobile, DSLR, mirrorless, 360, drone..
How is drone photography different from you from regular photography? Is the process more rewarding because you only see the results much later?
This is a technology that has been available only since couple of years and it is amazing how good the quality of the camera is from a gadget that you can literally carry in your pocket. The flight range is huge – up to 7 km so you can explore and photograph much more things around you from the air than you could possible shoot with your normal camera. When I travel now I always carry a small foldable drone with me.
Since you can “pause’ the drone just above the object – you can fine tune its direction and altitude to frame the perfect composition, something which is hard to do when you take photos from any other flying devices.
Do you pursue other art forms? How does your specialization in architecture aid your photography pursuits?
What I do in my “daytime job” is architectural visualisations – these are more or less “virtual photographs of future buildings” . Same principles of composition , light and colour are used. So there is a lot in common between my photography hobby and my work as architectural visualiser and architect. I also use photography when need to take aerial shots of the city context were we place a CG building.
What can we expect to see in your portfolio in the future?
I’m planning a trip to Namibia and also making a book with only top down aerial shots from around the world.
Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?
Don’t go too much into the technical details about cameras or drones – firmwares, engines, filters etc.
I only know how to start the drone and which button to press to take take a photo and which for a video.
It’s all about the good composition and interesting subject!
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