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Learned a New Surveillance Trick So Your Target Can't See You On a Sunny Day.

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StevenBrodsky

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HOW TO USE THE SUN TO BLOCK A SUBJECT'S ABILITY TO SEE YOUR DRONE. HEARD, BUT NOT SEEN.

Let's say you want to observe a person or animal without being seen (still heard, but not seen) in the sky on a sunny day. I sort of learned this accidentally. I was surveilling a group of people in a public place where there was no expectation of privacy. They heard the drone and kept looking up, but they never locked onto the drone with their eyes. People usually look up and stare at it or wave at it, but this time they looked and just ignored the sound of the drone flying just 80 ft above them. I was wondering why they were ignoring It. I mean, it's obvious that they can hear a Mavic 3E at 80 ft, but they kept ignoring it.

What I realized is the shadow of my drone was right in the middle of the group of people. This meant the sun was directly behind the drone when they tried to look up and locate it.

Lesson. If you don't want your drone seen, but want to get close to the subject, just make sure you can see the shadow of your drone directly next to your subject. They may hear it, but will be confounded by not seeing it.
 
I prefer to stand off with the long-range camera on my Mavic 3 Pro. I can zoom in on their face yet the drone is so far away, they cannot possibly see it OR hear it.

Oh, and also be careful about the expectation of privacy concept. I don't know if you mentioned this because you think the FL drone law on surveillance is a good thing or not but....it's not.
 
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I don't know if you mentioned this because you think the FL drone law on surveillance is a good thing or not but....it's not.
In Cali Its called "lingering" or harassment and while I don't know of too many convictions for it ,Its sure the excuse they give you when the lifeguard tells you to pack up and leave. I never really understood the law though. I mean If I film someone committing a crime and I keep filming to help the police- am I "Lingering"?
 
In Cali Its called "lingering" or harassment and while I don't know of too many convictions for it ,Its sure the excuse they give you when the lifeguard tells you to pack up and leave. I never really understood the law though. I mean If I film someone committing a crime and I keep filming to help the police- am I "Lingering"?
Lingering is governed by WHERE you are lingering.
 
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If you want to spy use the telephoto, 300+ m horizontal distance, 200-250m height (or 120 if you want to stay legal, but it can be easily heard on areas with low ambient noise and a bit of wind). The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear, like pentesting.

Flying near uninvolved people and freaking them out it's just idiotic, specially if you are nowhere nearby.
 
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I prefer to stand off with the long-range camera on my Mavic 3 Pro. I can zoom in on their face yet the drone is so far away, they cannot possibly see it OR hear it.

Oh, and also be careful about the expectation of privacy concept. I don't know if you mentioned this because you think the FL drone law on surveillance is a good thing or not but....it's not.
Regarding my type of surveillance: It's ok because I don't record or photograph anything. I just observe. It's just recreational for me.
 
If you want to spy use the telephoto, 300+ m horizontal distance, 200-250m height (or 120 if you want to stay legal, but it can be easily heard on areas with low ambient noise and a bit of wind). The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear, like pentesting.

Flying near uninvolved people and freaking them out it's just idiotic, specially if you are nowhere nearby.
Someone actually put a value to how close you can be horizontally and vertically to people? If yes, where is this info?
 
Someone actually put a value to how close you can be horizontally and vertically to people? If yes, where is this info?

I only know the European rules, which state some distances depending on the weight of the drone. But those distances were my recommendation for a M3 to not be heard while hovering, except on really low ambient noise areas, like in the middle of a mountain area.
 
Regarding my type of surveillance: It's ok because I don't record or photograph anything. I just observe. It's just recreational for me.
Usually the law makes sure to refer to your drone as being capable or equipped with a camera or recording device; not going to matter much if you actually used it or not. No one can tell if you are recording or not and it isn't practical to review the footage so even if you are just flying around people watching, you are breaking the law in some places. This is why I don't agree with laws specific to drones; they're too vague and left open to interpretation. For example, invasion of privacy is the standard workaround to the "expectation of privacy" defense. Even if someone doesn't have the "expectation" doesn't mean you can't "invade" it when it isn't wanted....or so it goes. Totally disagree with it that...and hovering, lingering, or "loitering" can't be beat except maybe in a courtroom. When you can't be heard, that's called spying. ☺️
 
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Regarding my type of surveillance: It's ok because I don't record or photograph anything. I just observe. It's just recreational for me.
I do that for a living No problem with it really. but the local governments sure like to hammer the excuse across here at least on the beaches that they allow drones ( not many)
and as long as your Drone is "Equipped" with the camera the law can still be enforced I see this all the time with FPV you might not be recording but you are Watching according to them.
When I work security I say about 60 feet is the closest I have ever gotten to someone I try to stay well away from them when possible. When I am at the park or the beach and I'm flying my whoops I will get pretty close to you IF you don't mind I won't Surprise anyone.
 
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You are sounding creepy and definitely doing things that aren't doing the drone flying community any favours.
My latest "observation" flight was a car wreck without injuries. One car went spinning off 30 feet into a field. It couldn't be seen from the road. I didn't even know it was there until I flew over it with the drone. The car that caused the accident looked pristine, as if it didn't hit anything. It looked like the result of a pit maneuver. Initially, an ambulance, fire and 5 cops showed up, but quickly left when there were no injuries discovered.

I broke my rule of no filming during this observation. It was just too interesting not to film it. I also broke my rule of not being seen. The cops didn't even look at the drone, but the bystanders wouldn't stop looking and pointing at it. I was in VLOS and was able to see the skies for any approaching emergency aircraft. I stayed on the opposite side of the street at about 60 ft up under some power lines. (I stayed under the power lines because I knew approaching aircraft would avoid them). I spent about 10 minutes loitering up and down the grassy area to the side of the breakdown lane opposite the accident. I was 1000 ft down the road on an unfinished exit ramp where I myself couldn't be seen, unless someone knew to look for me there.

Not to creepy, I hope.

Anyway, If they wanted to find me, RID would have gotten RID of me. But I don't think RID really works. I've checked my WIFI on my android for RID signals when flying, But it only pops up for a few seconds when I first turn the drone on then it disappears and never shows up again. None of the available apps for RID ever pick up my drone (Mav3E).
 
IN THESE PICS I DID FLY TO THE ACCIDENT SCENE BUT WAS OFF TO THE SIDE OVER THE POWER LINES IN THE MARSHLAND. PROBABLY 40 FT FROM THE SCENE HORIZONTALLY, EXCEPT WHEN I TOOK A PIC OF THE CAR THAT HAD SPUN OFF THE ROAD. --SHOTS WERE USING THE 7X LENS--

[Images of private citizens have been removed by moderator]


Car that ran off the road.jpg
 
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^I don't see anything wrong with flying your drone (capturing photos/videos) at these types of incidents. It needs to become normalized IMO.
 
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Hold on a min.
What would happen if you saw what you thought was an accident and flew on over to film Only to find out later that it was actually someone who was in need of emergency services such as an air ambulance. Well our poor victim is out of luck because the air ambulance can't land because there is a drone in the area--This is precisely why in my state and probably yours it is Illegal to fly anywhere near emergency vehicles ( we are talking miles away here) You need to be VERY VERY cautious and Make sure what you are doing is legal! In California and MOST other states- It is a Huge Felony- ( intentional denial of emergency services). I would check the laws in your area and don't just ask the person on a phone, READ IT FOR YOURSELF.
 
Hold on a min.
What would happen if you saw what you thought was an accident and flew on over to film Only to find out later that it was actually someone who was in need of emergency services such as an air ambulance. Well our poor victim is out of luck because the air ambulance can't land because there is a drone in the area--This is precisely why in my state and probably yours it is Illegal to fly anywhere near emergency vehicles ( we are talking miles away here) You need to be VERY VERY cautious and Make sure what you are doing is legal! In California and MOST other states- It is a Huge Felony- ( intentional denial of emergency services). I would check the laws in your area and don't just ask the person on a phone, READ IT FOR YOURSELF.
I don't live in California but I would love to see that law; do you know the California Penal Code? Hopefully you're not referring to generic interference, obstruction, and/or disorderly conduct type catch all statutes.

Also I understand if a drone is in the area, a helicopter may be unable to land. We get that, everybody knows it could be hazardous. Is there anything else (besides a drone) that would prevent a helicopter from landing?

Asking for a friend who's curious, please realize there are no accidents in progress and no helicopters are being prevented from landing currently. Hopefully this thread doesn't devolve into future hate and sorrow over something that hasn't even happened. Not saying we can't discuss it but would be happy to take up the topic in another thread. In this thread, I want to discuss what was primarily brought up, the laws. OP saw an accident, flew his drone to the accident, emergency services arrived, OP failed to leave the area immediately. Or, OP saw an accident, flew his drone to the accident, emergency services were on the scene, OP failed to turn around and leave the area immediately.
 
California Government Code 853.1, and 853.5 impeding emergency responders. and I to love a friendly debate!
 
California Government Code 853.1, and 853.5 impeding emergency responders. and I to love a friendly debate!
No such law in Florida. I was in VLOS anyway. I could have seen an emergency helicopter coming a miles away and left way before it arrived near the scene.
 
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Car crashes are an easy contrived example. Here's one at the opposite end of the scale: A few teenage girls have set up on the beach for the day. A 30 year old dude sets his towel down 30 feet away between them and the ocean. He sits down facing them and stares. "Surveillance". No pictures or video, similar to some statements here, he just likes to watch people. Particularly teenage girls.

Is there anything wrong here? Is there harassment taking place, or is this guy just exercising his rights?

Replace the guy with a drone. Do you think that changes anything w.r.t. the feelings of the observed? Do those feelings matter?

I'm very libertarian w.r.t. drone operations where other people are not involved. When others are being observed, I side much more with the uninvolved public.

We live socially, and must share this earth. There's something decidedly creepy and wrong with seeing others as simply objects for your own entertainment. An event like a car crash? Entirely different.

Laws against harassment and "lingering" exist for a reason. It's part of the "rules" landscape that lubricates smooth, peaceful sharing of our collective social space. These ideas and constraints existed long before there were drones, often used to nail people with cameras and long lenses.

Just because the social antibodies can put the camera on a flying thing and make it easier to "spy" without getting caught makes no difference, and in fact makes the issue a greater risk in the view of most.
 
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Usually the law makes sure to refer to your drone as being capable or equipped with a camera or recording device; not going to matter much if you actually used it or not. No one can tell if you are recording or not and it isn't practical to review the footage so even if you are just flying around people watching, you are breaking the law in some places. This is why I don't agree with laws specific to drones; they're too vague and left open to interpretation. For example, invasion of privacy is the standard workaround to the "expectation of privacy" defense. Even if someone doesn't have the "expectation" doesn't mean you can't "invade" it when it isn't wanted....or so it goes. Totally disagree with it that...and hovering, lingering, or "loitering" can't be beat except maybe in a courtroom. When you can't be heard, that's called spying. ☺️

In my 62 years I've observed that as a rule, generally, it takes a complaint by someone to trigger law enforcement involvement in privacy violations.

Laws against "lingering", surveillance, and other forms of harassment don't get actively enforced by LEOs except where there's a complaint, or the context is obviously sensitive for some reason.
 
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