Thankful

The Trails at The MSV are opening to the public on November 25.

As we gear up for the holidays, there is certainly a mixed bag of emotions coming to the table this year.

Wow, I actually had to pause and really think about what everybody must be going through. All the different situations we all, as Americans, are facing right now.

I have many things to be thankful for this year and every year and I think that sometimes I have to take a step back and really think – think about the things I might take for granted. Those are the things that I should be thankful for – the things that I rarely think about actually BEING thankful for. The things that aren’t always front of mind. The things that, if they were removed from my life, would make a serious impact, but I just never think of them so…no impact.

I live within walking distance of a major cultural center in my city and region. I never thought too much of it before I became involved professionally, but I did become involved and I’m pretty thankful I did. I’ve met some really awesome people and experienced some pretty awesome events and exhibits. I took it for granted and I’m guessing I’m not the only one who did.

Next Wednesday (11/25/2020) marks over 3 1/2 years since I produced the first video in a series to promote and begin the fund raising task to bring a brand new experience to the residents of this region – The Trails at The MSV. They open to the public a day before Thanksgiving. It’s an outdoor venue that anybody can enjoy at their own leisure. Yup, the’re FREE.

By the way, I just joined The MSV – no excuse for why it took me this long. You should, too. See you on the trails!

Flight

Winchester Regional Airport (aka OKV) with Winchester and the Allegheny Mountains in the distance. | Order a print here.

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

I was, without a doubt, a bit nervous before my flight today. It essentially went against all my protocols up to now. Got some pretty epic footage though. Be on the lookout for the marketing videos coming out from the airport soon.

Time

Daggone it – just make time for the things you enjoy!

As Good As It Gets?

Sunset in Woodville, VA

Don’t settle. Never settle. You can always improve, even if it’s only by just a little.

Worth It

Somewhere deep into West Virginia.

Sometimes you drive an hour for a shoot. Totally worth it.

Eye Candy

Well, just because.

Eagle Rock sunset. | Order a print of this image.

Why Do I Even Bother?

Drones.  Drones!  DRONES!!  Seems like they’re everywhere.  And, of course, anybody can just walk right in to most big box retailers and get one.  Everybody’s a “drone pilot” now then, right.  NO!!!  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  I try to follow the rules and regulations.  Why?  Because it’s the law.  I’m not trying to be a goody-goody.  I just don’t have the money to pay any potential fines that could come with breaking any of the current laws.  That’s why it just chaps my a** when others around me blatantly break the rules.  Or when others around me disseminate inaccurate information.

The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is a big deal in my town.  When I first began shooting photography for the festival, I used a drone.  Drone (UAS) regulations didn’t exist back then.  People (certain specific people as part of a bigger group of people) got bent out of shape and actually posted disclaimers that they were not affiliated with me.  I actually got reported and the police shut me down.  I have a letter of investigation from the FAA!  I should frame it.  Just to be clear, this was before any drone regulations existed!  I wasn’t endangering anybody and was being as safe as I could be.  It was too new, people got freaked out.  Oh no, there’s this flying thingy.  It’s spying on me!  It’s invading my privacy!  IT WAS A PUBLIC VENUE DAMMIT!

Fast forward 4 years and now there ARE regulations in place, but it seems that most people just don’t care.  Should I give them the benefit of the doubt?  Perhaps.  But there are channels to check if folks are legit.  Most are not.  Or at least major parts of their operations are not.

I was told this year that I would be too close to an airport to fly a drone during the Apple Blossom Festival.  Nope.  Incredibly inaccurate.  I fly here all the time and have a working relationship with the airport.  It’s class E airspace.  We’re not too close to an airport to fly a drone.  It’s one thing if a local city/town declares an area a drone-free zone.  Localities do that and I would comply.  I have before.  Laguna Beach in CA has such a declaration so I wasn’t able to fly there.  I get it.  There is no declaration in Winchester at Apple Blossom.  But I was instructed not to fly.  Fine, I wasn’t going to fly anyway.

Then I see multiple images from drone flights over the festival.  At night!  Flights at night are NOT covered by the new Drone certification (license) – Part 107, which is technically CFR 14 Part 107 for folks who don’t know.  Flights over people aren’t covered either.  You have to get specific permission (a waiver) from the FAA to do those flights.  There’s an application process where you have to justify the operations and explain how you’d mitigate the risks involved.  The FAA has a website that lists all waivers granted.  Guess what, no such waivers exist in this area (at least for the folks who shot the images I saw).

The exception here is if you’re flying for recreation.  I never understood this and have never agreed with it.  It’s the same airspace – all drones should follow the same rules.  All cars follow the same traffic laws.  How is this different?!?!?!

WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER?!?!?!?!?!

Rant over, as you were.

Part 107

Just to be clear, this image was shot back in 2015 when NO regulations existed for drone flight. This is the image that started it all.

My Corner

My little “corner of the world.”  Stay safe everybody.

corner

Change (aka I’m Old)

So I’ve arrived at that point in life where I can remember growing up with things and experiences and an entirely new generation can’t relate.  Sure there are those people who talk about certain things/experiences like they know.  They don’t know.  You’ve seen those lists and probably videos of products that millenials didn’t grow up with like cassette tapes, rotary home phones, home phones, the “pound sign,” 8-track casettes, Mickey butters, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, dial-up modems, floppy discs, Nick from Family Ties, Family Ties, console TVs, answering machines, Kodak disc cameras – good grief, the list goes on and on.  Now, I’m not saying kids these days don’t know about these things – they just didn’t grow up with them.  There’s a difference.  I was reminded recently when my sister got an air popcorn popper and had no idea how to use it.  It was fascinating to watch all her friends taking pictures and video (from their new-fangled smart phones no less!).

Good grief I feel old.  Now, get off my lawn!

20180804-PANO0001-6-Pano

James Madison Univeristy’s new D-Hall replaces the previous round building that was my work home during my 4.5 years at the school. | See more images including some of the previous D-Hall.

Sunset

So my app told me there was a 47% chance of a decent sunset.  If this is 47% I can’t imagine what 100% looks like.

20180706-PANO0001-3-Pano-Edit

The sun setting over Shenandoah Univeristy in Winchester, VA | Order a print of this image

Scene

Simply felt like a scene out of the movies.  I’m in a big, overgrown field (alone), photographing the landscape and out of nowehere the massive lightning storm erupts before me.  And just like in the movies, I’m telling myself “I gotta shoot this.  Just 5 more minutes.”  Have I not watched enought TV and movies to know better!!!

Scene

I got the shot. | Order a print.

Commence

It’s that time of year and I got to be a part of Shenandoah Univeristy’s version of it.  Always a pleasure.

Commence

Old Jake

I don’t get to shoot for myself much anymore so I have to grab any opportunity to get creative.  I’ve always wanted to shoot “Old Jake” so after a recent flight for a client, I did just that.  The original “Old Jake” weathervane is on display at The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, VA.

OLD JAKE

Old Jake perched on top of Rouss Fire Hall in Winchester, VA | Order a print of this image.

Travel

Apparently this has been the summer of travel and I’ve really got to work on the whole travel photography thing. I tend to overpack for any trip when it comes to my gear. About a third of my carry-on luggage was devoted to the overflow from my gear bag!  Anyway, from NYC to LA (yep coast-to-coast) I got some decent images.  Maybe it’s time to flip over to the whole mirrorless thing…

20170728-DJI_0692-HDR-Edit

Very other-worldly out there in the desert – the heat was making me see things.

Video

The reaction I get these days when I tell people I do video…”You do video?!”  Yes, I do video.  It’s ironic that most people think of me as a still photographer these days when video is actually how this all got started.  So for those that may have forgotten that I do video, here’s a reminder.

Later

One of my workflow tricks as a photographer (now that I kinda know what I’m doing) is to not dive right into my edits right away.  I wait a while and edit later.  I let some time pass between when I shoot and when I edit.  I can’t really articulate why this is, but I just know that if I’m too eager to jump into the edit it’s not as creative as when I wait plus it’s a bonus when I go back through my images and find ones I forgot I shot.  Of course, with thos pesky deadlines looming this isn’t always practical.

Later

Order a print of this image. | North River in Bridgewater, VA shot about a month ago.

Differences

Put aside your political views/opinions for about 45 minutes each day.  Enjoy the fact that there’s always this to look forward to.

differences

It’s been a while since I shot anything and I know this is a similar composition, but it’s never really the same. | Order a print of this image.

Part 107

So I just posted a response (quoted below) to a video that showed up in my Facebook feed, but then I removed it.  Something about the time and placement of the response didn’t feel right to me, but I still feel that it needs to be said.

As more and more people earn their sUAS remote pilot certificate, the skies are becoming more and more saturated with “legal” drone pilots.  And when I say “legal” I mean drone pilots who are allowed to be paid for their craft.  Those flying for recreational purposes do still have rules to follow as well.  And for the most part, those rules are essentially the same rules as the ones for licensed remote pilots (of course, licensed piltots have the added CFR 14 part 107).

I’ve gotten on my soapbox before and I’ll keep getting on it because I feel strongly about these rules and the safety of everybody involved.  I’d also like to continue with my craft and grow it into a more successful piece of my studio, but it becomes increasingly hard to do with such blatant disregard for the rules and regulations happening all around me.

As I mention in the post, I’m not perfect and don’t claim to be perfect.  Granted, you can get some amazing imagery with drones these days, but that doesn’t mean “get the shot at all cost.”  I don’t have the additional cash on hand for potential fines from the FAA.  For me, I’ll continue to follow the rules as best I can.  And I’ll keep plugging away on my little soapbox when I see fit.

On the one hand I enjoy watching well-done video and this is certainly well-done.  On the other hand he, being an FAA sUAS remote pilot, should know better than to fly in some of the conditions depicted in this video.  Completely against part 107 regulations.  Granted, I’m not perfect, but it burns me up that FAA remote pilots are not really following the rules they agreed to when applying for the license.  Of course, my rant is negated if waivers were granted.

part-107

This is the photo that got the attention of the FAA back in the Spring of 2015.  They never saw the photo, but did receive a report from the local police about my flight .  This incident is why I’m so very careful these days and advocate for safe, law-abiding flying.

Snow Haiku

I don’t like the cold
The sun looks great in Winter
I want some bacon

snow-haiku

I really like the juxtaposition of the cool tones and the warm tones. | Order a print of this image.

Sneak Preview

Alright folks – set your DVRs and TiVos and whatever else you high-techy techies use.  Next Thursday 8-9pm EST – “Saving Place, Saving Grace.”  Cedarmeade Studios’ debut on PBS.  Well, it’s not MY debut, but it kinda is for my aerials except that I did just win an award for aerial cinematography.  Anyway…it’ll be cool to watch it.  You can get a sneak preview of it and meet the filmmakers this Saturday (1/7) at The Barns of Rose Hill.  I’m going.

Here’s every link I could find about the film:

  1. Picture Farmer Films (this is the production company)
  2. Holy Cross Abbey (this is what the film is all about)
  3. Indiegogo (you can support the film)
  4. Sneak Preview (another link to get tickets for the sneak preview)

saving-place-saving-grace

One of the few still images I took while filming near the river. | Order a print of this image or others like it.