SOLD Lake Home on Upper Eau Claire Lake (Barnes, WI)

It’s SOLD.  There goes another northwest Wisconsin lake home sold by Jean Hedren.

I especially enjoyed photographing this one.  It’s a beautiful home, and I was able to create some lovely interiors.  But the outside’s pretty photogenic, too; this lake home has an especially nice waterfront with a sand bottom that’s perfect for swimming.

And just to clarify…  Yes, “Eau Claire” is French for “Clear Water.”  That’s how the Eau Claire Chain of Lakes got its name.  For further evidence, scroll on down and check out the final photo in this series.


Posted in Photography, Real Estate, Uncategorized

Why Drones Should be Illegal for Hunting AND Fishing

Lately you’ve probably been hearing about new laws that ban the use of drones for hunting.  Here in Wisconsin, for example, it’s “illegal to hunt any animal with the aid of any aircraft, including unmanned aircraft and drones.”  That last part was added back in about 2014.

When these laws were first proposed, they seemed to anticipate technology from the far distant future.  But today drones with live, high-resolution video feeds are readily available and hugely popular.  Fortunately, most hunters would still agree that using a drone to scout, spot, or herd game does not fit the definition of fair chase.

True, it’s also reasonable to ask about the ethics of certain other hunting gadgets.  Digital trail cameras are one thing, but now some models use cellular technology to transmit images in real time.  While sitting at her laptop hundreds of miles away, a hunter could watch a trophy buck stroll down the trail toward the elevated stand where she’ll be waiting in ambush on opening morning.  Or, from just a hundred yards away, a hunter already sitting in his stand could do the same thing on a phone.  That, too, might be taking things a bit too far.  But somehow, adding drones to the hunting experience feels like an even more egregious violation of fair-chase principles.

I’d like to suggest that the same is true for fishing, and that it should be illegal to use drones for fishing in any way.  I don’t mean underwater drones like these; nor am I concerned about surfcasters and British carp anglers using drones with a release mechanism to lift their baits out farther than they could cast.  Yes, these are questionable developments.  But I’m referring specifically to the use of drones for scouting and reconnaissance.  Let me explain.

My wife, Jean Hedren, is a Realtor here in northwest Wisconsin.  I help her out with real estate photography and video, and in recent years I’ve been learning a lot about both.  (A brief word from our sponsor: If you’re thinking of selling or buying a lake home or cabin here in northwest Wisconsin, please contact her at  You can also visit her blog and website at  Check out her YouTube channel at Jean Hedren, Your NW WI Realtor. )

Last year we decided it was time to add aerial drone photos and video to the services we provide our sellers.  During the winter I studied up for the FAA Part 107 test so I could get my Remote Pilot Certificate and legally fly a drone for commercial purposes. Then, after several hours of practice flights, it was time for the real thing.  That was back in May.

If you’re an angler, you know that in the Northern Hemisphere most species of fish are spawning about that time of year—often in clear, shallow water where they’re easy to spot from the air.  Some species, like bass and sunfish, make gravel nests that are even more visible from above.  Despite being abandoned, these nests are still obvious months later.  Even if you’re not looking for them, they’re hard to not notice.

I wasn’t looking for the fish; I just wanted aerial photos of the houses.  Most of Jean’s listings are lake homes and cabins, and so this happens all the time.  But that afternoon when I downloaded my first lakeshore drone photos, it was quite a surprise.  Just offshore from one lake home, I saw dozens of sunfish nests.  Within 100 yards of a cabin on a different lake, I saw half a dozen widely scattered bass nests.  I figure it’s only a matter of time before someone at a major bass tournament is busted for using a drone to locate vulnerable bass guarding their nests.

And since several lakes in this part of northwest Wisconsin have thriving muskie populations, I know of a couple shallow bays where I could easily find trophy fish next May and June.  I’d just fly over on a calm, sunny day and look for the submerged logs that aren’t actually logs.  Not that I would.  But I could.

For more examples of unintentional fish-scouting photos, just scroll on down.  They’re downsized for faster loading, and mostly shot from fairly high up.  So potentially, photos like these could reveal even more.  But to protect the innocent fish, I did crop a couple shots so the location is less obvious.  (At the very end, as a final non-drone bonus, I also included two lucky dock shots.  I tiptoed.)

And that’s why drones should be illegal for hunting AND fishing.


Posted in Photography, Real Estate, Uncategorized

SOLD Hayward, Wisconsin Lake Home on Nelson Lake

It’s official.  This beautiful NW Wisconsin lake home on Nelson Lake just closed this morning.  Last spring it was one of the first homes I photographed with a drone.  There were several during those first couple weeks; I wanted to quickly leverage my investment in learning and hardware.  Last winter I studied hard so I could pass my FAA Part 107 test and earn my sUAS Remote Pilot Certificate.  That way I could legally fly a drone for commercial purposes.  And then there was an investment in the drone itself, plus all its various accessories.  Since then, both investments have paid off by allowing me to capture spectacular aerial stills and video that wouldn’t have been possible in any other way.

The aerial drone photos of this lake home helped showcase its private, end-of-the road location on Nelson Lake.  The home and its surroundings were just as beautiful up-close, and I was also able to to create some great interiors and exteriors from images I’d captured with my “regular” camera.  To see a few examples, just scroll on down.

And if you’d like to sell or purchase a lake home here in northwest Wisconsin, just contact  Meanwhile, you can visit her blog and website at For videos of this and other spectacular properties, check out Jean’s YouTube channel at Jean Hedren, Your NW WI Realtor.

Posted in Photography, Real Estate, Uncategorized

SOLD NW WI Lake Home on Lower Eau Claire Lake (Gordon, WI)

It was only a couple months ago that I photographed this northwest Wisconsin lake home on Lower Eau Claire Lake near Gordon and Barnes.  There was an accepted offer in less than ten days, and the new owners are already enjoying spectacular views of Lower Eau Claire.  (Or at least I hope they are.  They closed Friday.  Let’s hope they managed to take a few breaks during their weekend’s unpacking.)

Although it’s now a little cool for swimming, that sand waterfront will still be there next spring.  And meanwhile, here in northwest Wisconsin we can still look forward to more crisp fall evenings that will be perfect for sitting around the fire pit with friends.

And that’s today’s real estate and photo news from up at the lake.  For more fun photos, just scroll on down.

Posted in Photography, Real Estate, Uncategorized

How to Know if Your Realtor is Using Legal Drone Photos

Back in June I wrote a post about how I passed my FAA Part 107 test, and I’m now making legal drone photos.  Drone photos and video were another service we wanted to begin providing our sellers, but first I needed to be fully certified and obeying the law.  Although studying for the test was some work, it turned out that a lot of what I learned has made me a better and safer drone pilot.

Plus, U.S. law is clear: As of August 29, 2016, a Realtor or photographer must possess a Remote Pilot Certificate before they can legally use a drone to capture aerial photos or video that will be used to market your home.  It doesn’t matter if no money changes hands; the FAA clearly defines real estate photography as a “commercial purpose,” and even uses it as a key example of the difference between commercial and recreational flight.  The same would be true of roof inspectors flying their own drones; the key phrase used by the FAA in these situations is “in furtherance of a business.”

To add further clarity, the FAA actually defines “recreational” and “hobby” use:  “Recreational or hobby UAS use is flying for enjoyment and not for work, business purposes, or for compensation or hire.  In the FAA’s Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, the FAA relied on the ordinary, dictionary definition of these terms. UAS use for hobby is a ‘pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.’  UAS use for recreation is ‘refreshment of strength and spirits after work; a means of refreshment or division.’”  As far as the FAA is concerned, fun is fun and work is work.

So if a Realtor or photographer is about to take aerial photos or videos of your home, make sure they’re doing so legally and safely.  When flying a small UAS for commercial purposes (and that includes anything related to real estate), pilots here in the U.S. are required by law to have their Remote Pilot Certificate with them at all times.  Liability for unauthorized operations can fall on both the pilot and the person who hires the pilot.  The pilot would face a fine of $1,100 per violation, and the “person who causes the operation” could be liable for a fine of up to $11,000.

Repeat violators who still haven’t heard from the FAA shouldn’t relax just yet.  The most recent figures show an average of 151 days between the date of the first violation and the initial notice from the FAA.  That number ranged from 0 to 1,294 days.

So…  How can you be sure your Realtor or their photographer is complying with the law?  Other than asking to see their Remote Pilot Certificate before signing a listing contract, is there any way to check ahead of time?  As a matter of fact there is.

The FAA makes it easy to verify that someone is a licensed drone pilot—and also to verify other pilot or aircraft maintenance certifications.  Just click here to reach the FAA’s Airmen Inquiry Search Page.  (Sorry for the rather dated term that’s not quite gender-neutral.  That’s the official name of the page.)  The answer to your question is just a few clicks away.

Of course, being a licensed drone pilot is just the beginning.  Drone photography is still real photography.  This isn’t a job for your neighbor’s teenager who loves drones, phones, and video games.  It’s a job for a skilled real estate photographer who occasionally uses a camera that flies.  Just as with terrestrial photography, there’s more to this than just buying a camera and clicking a button.

Check out my gallery pages for examples of the stunning images that can make your home stand out from the crowd.  For more still, check out my wife’s blog and website over at  And for fun drone videos, check out her YouTube channel at Jean Hedren, Your NW Wisconsin Realtor.

Posted in Photography, Real Estate, Uncategorized

Beautiful Lake Home on the Eau Claire Chain of Lakes (Barnes, Wisconsin)

Last week I had fun photographing this beautiful home on the Eau Claire Chain of Lakes in Barnes, WI.  It’s on a quiet side channel of the route between Middle Eau Claire Lake and Lower Eau Claire Lake.

If you live here, you’ll enjoy an short pontoon ride to Middle Eau Claire Lake.   Smaller boats can travel downstream to and from Lower Eau Claire Lake by locking through a miniature lock-and-dam that’s one of our unique local attractions.    (Impatient paddlers can bypass the lock-and-dam with a quick portage up and over the road.)

It’s a great location, and the house itself is not bad, either.  For more, just scroll on down.


Posted in Photography, Real Estate, Uncategorized

House on 20 Acres Overlooking Pond Near Solon Springs, Wisconsin

Last week I had fun shooting this home for sale near Gordon and Solon Springs.  It’s on 20 acres bordering the pond that’s just visible in the background of this first photo.  Although the sky clouded over just before I began capturing drone stills and video, I had great late-afternoon light for most of the other photos.   Plus, the interior was freshly painted and tastefully decorated.  This house was indeed ready for its close-up.

For more, just scroll on down.  And don’t miss the bonus butterfly shot at the very end.

Posted in Photography, Real Estate, Uncategorized