For photographers in Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks and Mackinac Island probably come to mind immediately when thinking about great locations for landscape photography. Drone photographers will have to look elsewhere though - drones are prohibited. Fly there and you are looking at a hefty fine from the state, the FAA, or the National Park Service.
So where to fly? Here are my top ten locations, outside of those areas that are off limits.
10. Ludington - Home to two lighthouses and miles of shoreline, this is a great spot to get some awesome drone shots of the pier and shoreline. The highlight is undoubtedly Big Sable lighthouse about a mile walk from the main parking lot in Ludington State Park.
9. Frankfort - One of the most scenic harbors in Michigan, period. Frankfort has an awesome lighthouse at the end of a very long pier, with some majestic dunes just up the shore and plenty of space to avoid distractions while flying.
8. Detroit - Surprisingly, many areas of the city are open to drones, even though Detroit sits on an international border. Belle Isle is a great spot to shoot the skyline from. Check temporary flight restrictions before flying though, as they do pop up from time to time.
7. Manistee River - Winding more than 100 miles through the northern lower peninsula and dammed twice, there are tons of great spots for aerial images. Beware of the power plant by Hodenpyle Dam though - it puts out a ton of magnetic interference.
6. Charlevoix - One of the great harbors in Michigan, plus a small river running into Lake Charlevoix, one of the great inland lakes in Michigan. Its hard to beat Charlevoix!
5. Old Mission Peninsula - Great diversity of subjects here, with a lighthouse on the peninsula's tip, tons of farms in the center, and miles of shoreline on the edge. Come during cherry blossom blooms in May and you are in for a treat.
4. Leland - Fishtown is great, and there's a dam running right through the town - great for some long exposure work.
3. Tahquamenon Falls - Michigan's most beautiful waterfall. It can be a challenge to get a drone close to the waterfall, but well worth it. This is another great spot for some long exposure work.
2. Point Betsie - My favorite lighthouse in Michigan, this spot is easy to access and offers a historic lighthouse and miles of shoreline on either side.
1. Mackinac Straits - Just cannot be beat. Does it get any better than a five mile bridge over some of the brightest blue water you have ever seen?