Where is your base of operations?
Above Topsail is located just off of Topsail Island in Holly Ridge, NC at 301 HWY 17 S, Suite 2a, HOLLY RIDGE NC 28445. You can reach us at 910.803.1759 or jeff@abovetopsail.com.

How did you get into aerial photography?
I have been flying radio controlled airplanes off and on for the past 20 years. I always thought it would be cool to mount a GoPro camera to a wing and get some photos and videos. Then in 2015, I came across a Black Friday sale at Sam’s Club…

Are you telling me you got your first drone from Sam’s Club?
Yep. I sure did.

How did you convince your wife to let you buy your first quadcopter?
My first flying camera “cost” me the forfeiture of my next Christmas, Father’s Day and birthdays gifts.

How do you take your aerial photos?
I have a few different “flying cameras.” Technically, they are quadcopters, but the public and media commonly refer to them as drones. The drones I have are designed to be steady in the air. A moving camera is not good. And a jerky flying drone is not good for capturing smooth video. My drones do not race or do flips. If you see my drone flipping upside down, quickly get your phone out and take a video. It will probably go viral on YouTube!

How are your canvases printed?
On really large professional printers using quality canvas material that is made to last more than 100 years.

How are your photos printed?
They are printed by a high-quality printer on luster photo paper.

How are your prints printed?
They are printed by a high-quality printer on luster photo paper.

What’s the difference between a photo and a print?
Both are printed on the same type of paper. A photo prints to the edges of the paper; a print has a white border and a title. A print is also signed by the artist.

What does “gallery wrapped” canvas mean?
If you Google this, you will get different answers. So here is what I mean. The canvas material is stretched on stretcher bars that are 1 ½” deep. The edges of my canvases display a mirrored image.

Do you print and stretch your own canvases?
Heck no! First of all, stretching a canvas is hard physical work. My weak artist hands and forearms would cramp when I used to try and stretch canvases. Second, it takes skill to get consistent quality stretched canvases. So I leave stretching to the experts. It just happens that one of the top three custom canvas printing companies in a google search is local. So I use them. #workSmarterNotHarder

Did you just use a hashtag in a FAQ answer?
Yes, I did.

How long will the prints and canvases last?
Longer than I will be alive! In a typical home setting, they will last a generation or two. The more they are exposed to direct sunlight, the quicker the colors will fade. But seriously, if you want your prints or canvases to last forever, seal them up in a plastic bag and slide them under your bed. This will limit the effect of air pollutants and sunlight. This is what the Smithsonian Museum does.

How do I clean a metal print?
Use water or a mild window cleaner and a soft cloth.

What are your standard sizes?
The images can be classified in two main categories: standard and panoramic.
Standard means a single shot. These end up being a 2:3 ratio. Panoramic involves stitching multiple images together into a single image using imaging software. There are a few exceptions, but this is generally the rule. They end up being a 1:3 ratio.

  • Standard Sizes:
    Prints: 13×19
    Canvases: 9×12, 20×30, 24×36, 36×54
  • Panoramic Sizes (1:3 ratio):
    Photos: 13×36
    Canvases: 16×48, 20×60, 24×72

What if I want a custom size of an image?
Contact me.

Why aren’t all images available in all the sizes?
There are a couple reasons. But the main reasons are (1) the resolution on the camera used and (2) the quality of the image. A low light image may have more “noise” that is magnified when it is printed at larger sizes. I may have also cropped the image using software and I have fewer pixels to work with.

Are your images Photoshopped®?
Yes, every single one. I shoot my images in raw format which appear washed out directly off of the camera. However, the raw format captures much more detail than a jpg file. This allows me to use image editing software to bring out details in shadows which is very useful, especially in twilight images.

What creative limits do you place on yourself?
My images start out as photographs. That is the foundation. From there, depending on what I as the artist is trying to create, there could be very minor modifications or extreme modifications. I am not marketing my art as journalistic images depicting actual events (although some are). I am an artist trying to create the most unique and beautiful images that I can. This may include composite images (combining different images into a single image), removing, replacing or adding items to an image. My goal is for someone to see one of my images of a beautiful sunset and say, “I may not have seen this exact sunset, but I have seen beautiful sunsets on Topsail Island and this image reminds me of some of my best memories on Topsail.”

What imaging software do you use?
Adobe Lightroom® and Photoshop®. I use Premier Pro® for video editing.

Is Adobe Lightroom® and Photoshop® available for free online?
No, pro quality tools cost money.

How do you safely ship your items?
I’m not that smart, so I imitated the method of professionals who ship the type of items I do by purchasing the same types of packaging and padding. This varies by product and size.

How long will it take to ship my order?
I print the photos and prints that I sell in-house so they usually ship within a couple days. I do not print and stretch the canvases. Generally, the local canvas printing company and frame shop can turn those around in two weeks. Gift items like calendars and puzzles are in stock unless otherwise noted as “out of stock,” so gifts ship within a couple days.

What shipping method do you use?
Mainly USPS Priority Mail simply because it is generally cheaper, it can be tracked, and it comes with $100 insurance.

Why don’t you have any pictures of where I live?
I either don’t know about your little slice of heaven or I just haven’t gotten there. If you want me to take a photo of your house, click here and contact me about booking a custom home portrait.

What if I want a picture taken of my house/boat/business?
I love doing this! If you want me to take a photo of your house, click here and contact me about booking a custom home portrait. Decide if you want a daytime photo OR a “twilight” photo combining your home with a sunrise or sunset. I’m pretty good at twilight photos and I like to think they differentiate me from my competition. This also make a great gift for a loved one! ::hint, hint::

I saw a video you took and I would like to use it for my business, can I purchase it?
Yes. Contact me. Price is determined by multiple factors including length of video, use, and audience.

Do you have insurance for your drone?
Yes. I carry liability insurance.

Are you a licensed pilot by the FAA?
Yes, I hold a remote pilot’s certificate from the FAA.

Has anyone ever tried to shoot your drone out of the sky?
No, and I hope it never happens. The FAA consider drones aircraft that operate in the national airspace. Being considered the pilot in command of a remote aircraft sometimes seems silly with regulations I have to follow. On the positive side, since a drone is considered an aircraft, I reap some benefits such as it being a felony to shoot at an aircraft.

Can I hire you to take surveillance photos of my neighbor?
No. Long before drones were invented, there were already laws on the books which prohibit voyeurism as well as reckless endangerment of the public.

My neighbor’s son just got a drone. Why should I hire you when he will do whatever I want for free?
You get what you pay for.

FAQ about drones:
What is a drone?
A simple definition is that a drone is a very generic term to describe an aircraft that is capable of flying itself. “Drones” can refer to huge fixed wing military aircraft that fly over hostile foreign countries and shoot missiles, or it can refer to a $20 dollar credit card size quadcopter that can fly in your living room. For my purposes, I use “drone,” “quadcopter,” and “flying camera” interchangeably.

Is it hard to fly a drone?
If you buy a cheap one, yes. The higher the price, the more technology is integrated to help achieve safer flights. A good and relatively cheap “learn how to fly” drone is the Blade Nano QX RTF Quadcopter available on Amazon.

How did you learn to fly a drone?
Flying is easy for me as I have years of experience flying radio controlled airplanes. When I got my first drone, I watched YouTube videos and was comfortable flying it after 15 minutes.

Have you ever crashed your drone?
Yes. If you fly, you will crash.

How high can your drone fly?
There are two answers to that question. The FAA restricts me to flying up to 400 feet above ground. There are a few exceptions, but this is the general rule. But what you probably want to know is “how high can the aircraft physically fly with today’s technology?” The answer is miles. Don’t believe me? Check YouTube.

How far away can your drone fly?
Once again, there is a FAA legal answer and a physically possible answer. Legally, I have to keep my drone in line of sight. But the drone range is miles.

What happens if you can’t see your drone anymore?
There are few safety features that are integrated into higher end drones. The first is a “return to home” button. When pressed, the drone climbs to a pre-determined height and then flies back to where it took off. The second safety feature deals with loss of signal. If my drone loses reception with the remote control for 3 seconds, it initiates the “return to home” feature.

Did you have to register your drone with the Government?
Yes. My drone(s) weigh more than half a pound, so I have to register them through the FAA website.

Did you have to get a license or permit to fly your drone?
Not at first, as I was flying and taking photos as a hobbyist. Once this hobby turned into a business, the rules that apply to me changed from the FAA’s perspective. Once a person begins using a drone to further a business or sell photos and/or videos, they are considered a commercial operator by the FAA. A remote FAA pilot’s license is required. Also, since I am in North Carolina, I had to get a NC DOT commercial drone permit.

How far can you zoom in with your camera?
I can’t. The drones I use don’t have zoom capabilities. Anyone with a smartphone can zoom in more than I can if you are trying to spy on someone.

Can I fly your drone?