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.

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

Winter

“Winter is here.”

Today’s checklist:

    1. Snowblower successfully started
    2. Winter Blend coffee in the hopper
    3. Snow on the ground
    4. GoT in the DVD player

Winter

 

MoM

So, tomorrow, along with 30+ other men I’ll be a MOM – aka, “Man on a Mission” – collectively known as “Men on a Misson.”  I’ve done this now for 3 or 4 years now and it’s a blast.  The creative side of me really gets jazzed about it – and tomorrow is absolutely no exception.  It’s an event that benefits the Highland Food Pantry so that’s all you need, right?  This year’s theme is tailgating and all I can say is if you’re a Steelers fan, you may want to come check out my display.  There’s no way you’ll miss it.  That’s all I’m saying.

A couple links to more info:

Winchester Star

Highland Food Pantry

img_4703

You’re gonna want to see this…

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.

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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.

The Eye

There’s lots of competition these days and I encourage any and all newcomers, but keep this in mind →  it doesn’t take a high-end camera, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got the latest “this” or spared no expense on “that” – it takes “the eye.”  Do you have the creative “eye?”  Equipment only matters up to a certain point.

The Eye

“The Eye” at The Handley Library.  The best camera is ALWAYS the one you have with you.

After Blossom

I wonder if I can get something going.  For all those people who host parties for Apple Blossom, what happens to all that extra food?  For all those people who complete massive projects just in time for Apple Blossom and then the weather doesn’t cooperate, bummer right?  There’s an enormous run-up to the festival and then, just like a summer storm, it’s all over in a heartbeat.  Where did all the people go?  Oh no, we forgot to do this or we forgot to do that!  You can finally get to those projects that had to wait until after the bloom.  Don’t blink or you’ll miss something.  Memorial Day is coming.  Will the food still be good enough to serve at a Memorial Day backyard party?  Will the weather finally cooperate?  It can feel like a massive release of pressure.  Oh yeah, and it’s my birthday.

Happy “After Blossom” – catchy?

After Blossom

Part of some backyard improvements at our house.  The rain hanging from the lamp shade compelled me to shoot it.

Requests

Apparently I’m taking requests now.

requests

So my wife has developed quite the “photographer’s eye” these days.

24º

This is what 24ºC looks like to me in Febraury.  Come on, how could I not?!

24o

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.

At Least He Cleaned Up His Mess

It’s not every day that an opportunity lands in your front yard and says “photograph me while I rid Old Town Winchester of a black squirrel.”  This is what makes me envious of those people who have fields and forests in their back yards.  But it was cool and weird when it happened on a main street in town.  At least he cleaned up his mess.  

Unfortunately I had to shoot these images through double-paned glass so they’re not as sharp as they could be.

Maiden Voyage

Well, So far so good.  I took the new Mavic Pro out for its first flight this morning and was impressed with everything about it.  It’s easy to set up, unassuming and is incredibly easy to fly (as I expected having used DJI products for almost 3 years now).  Its image quality is incredible for as unassuming as it is.  It’s ultra portable and the battery lasts forever.  It doesn’t take the place of my Inspire 1, but is simply another tool in the toolbox for this massive gear head.

maiden-voyage

Sunrise over Winchester (processed from a single RAW photo). | Order a print of this image.

Stubborn

Through some pretty intense back pain I still managed to get out on Saturday to shoot the Battlefield Half Marathon.  Although I wasn’t as mobile as I was the previoius two years, I still got some great Fall colors and an awesome sunrise.  I suppose I should have taken it easy, but I’m just stubborn that way I guess.  After all, I got the shot!

battlefield-16