Worth It

Somewhere deep into West Virginia.

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

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.

Last Sunrise

I made it up for the last sunrise of 2016.  This is a photography blog so that’s enough words.

last-sunrise

The scenic Colonial Parkway runs along the James River. |  Order a print of this image.

 

Always Go Back…If You Can.

It pays to scout out a new shooting location.  Then you can go back and get the good shots.  I’m glad I still had time on our little trip or I wouldn’t have discovered this awesome angle of yesterday’s shoot.

jamestown-island-ii

Almost all 1,561 acres of Jamestown Island. | Order a print of this image.

Jamestown Island

I’ve found that some of the best sunrises are during the winter months.  It’s tough, though, to get motivated to get out of a warm bed and subject myself to frozen hands, but the end result is usually well worth it.

jamestown-island

Sunrise over Jamestown Island. | Order a print of this image.

Hidden Gem

This place is magnificent and it’s right in our “back yard.”  Hopefully soon it won’t be as “hidden” when the documentary is released.  It’s also a wonderful place to fly – I wasn’t the only drone there this time.

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

hidden-gem

The Fall colors are peaking along the Shenandoah River at the Holy Cross Abbey. | Order a print of this image.

KOKV 291515Z AUTO 21007KT 10SM CLR 17/07 A3013 RMK A02

Great day to fly – yeah, I’m a geek, so.

metar

The weather finally cooperated with me – just wish the foliage would, too. | Order a print of this image.

X5 FTW

I was cleared for takeoff this evening.  Yep, I filed my first (and second) flight plan.  It’s kinda surreal for me that I’ve made it this far.  When I got my first aerial camera, it was so new that there weren’t really any regulations for it (which explains all the images in my collection that I can’t really shoot these days).  It’s crazy how fast the governemnt moved on this set of regulations.  But I’m always about what’s next and that usually spells trouble for me being a gear-head and all.  I have to separate myself from the ever-growing community of “dronies” who are basically shooting with the same super-wide-angle-infinity-focus camera that everybody else has.  That’s not good enough for me anymore.  Not after tonight’s flight.

x5-ftw

Can you appreciate what’s slightly different about this aerial image? | Order a print of this image.

 

Old-Fashioned

I’ve been lucky enough to live in towns where a drive-in theater is minutes away.  If you haven’t been to the Family Drive-In in Stephens City, I’d encourage you to give it a try.  Now that’s some good old-fashioned fun.  I had the opportunity to visit one in South Dakota in an RV and I’ll tell you, there’s no better way to enjoy it than in an RV.

old-fashioned

The Family Drive-In in Stephens City from a different perspective. | Order a print of this image.

Choo-Choo

Well, just because…

Choo-Choo

I’ve been shooting this location for the past couple months.  Today was the first time I saw the engines parked so..why not, right?

School Daze

There’s an incredible amount of construction around here these days.  It’s apparently Winchester/Frederick County’s turn to grow.  These schools are pretty amazing, too – the new Frederick County Middle school looks very much like a high school.  And then there’s that whole trend where the school’s essentially share the same campus (separate, but together).  I remember my primary schools (elementary-middle-high) weren’t even in the same town really.

note – I just read that back to myself and just pictured the old wrinkled man sitting on his porch telling his grandkids that he used to walk through 4-foot-high snow to school both ways barefoot.  I refuse to accept that that’s where I’m headed. 😁

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The current Gainesboro Elementary School with the new Frederick County Middle School construction behind it.

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The new Frederick County Middle School.

Sanity

My home office is in the basement and has absolutely no connection to the outside world.  I need to get out every once in a while.  If not to see what the weather is like, at least for my own sanity!

Sanity

Folgers

Waking up early is no big thing when you know it’s gonna look like this.  It doesn’t matter what brand of coffee you drink, I still think this is the best part of waking up.

Order a print of this image.

Order a print of this image.

NSV

That would be the Northern Shenandoah Valley.  I’d love to come up here and shoot aerial during the sunset, but there are too many people and I don’t want to disrupt their experience with the noise.  I don’t want to be “that guy.”

Just some much-needed alone time at Bears Den in Bluemont, VA.  Awesome place.

Just some much-needed alone time at Bears Den in Bluemont, VA. Awesome place.

I’m Back…

It felt like a surgical scene as I was reassembling the drone last night, but I’m back.  It’s back.  My nerves are going to really keep me in check for a while after that incident.  Perhaps that was a good thing.

I think I'll need to go through all the settings again.  The rebuild must have sent everything back to factory default.  I typically shoot at 100 ISO, but this one was shot @ 1600!

I think I’ll need to go through all the settings again. The rebuild must have sent everything back to factory default. I typically shoot at 100 ISO, but this one was shot @ 1600!

Statistic

Let’s lead with this…

Statistic 01

Just 8 frames later was how quickly I lost the camera.

I now join the ever-increasing number of UAV pilots who’ve crashed their aircraft.  I should make it clear that it was 100% pilot error.  Luckily it did NOT involve any other people, buildings, or vehicles (including aircraft).  I can tell you that it had everything to do with me being rushed in the moment trying to capture the perfect lighting on an incredibly cinematic scene.  And guess what, I got the shot!  I suppose that’s the photographer’s mantra (after “ƒ8 and be there”).

Long story short (here goes) reception officially starts at 7pm:

  1. Took a little longer with the bridal party that I had anticipated (family waiting for pictures at ceremony site). 6:45
  2. Arrive, sprinting, to waiting family. Have to set up aerial platform fast to capture that fading, but awesome, sunset.  6:50
  3. Finish setting it up and ready to fly.  Guests now waiting for dinner.  6:55
  4. Line up shot and start flight.
  5. I continue flight to get more landscape while, at the same time, I begin lining up family shots. 7:05
  6. Last image I see in the display is tree branches
  7. Still have formal family photos to get (including me).
  8. I kinda don’t remember the next hour or two…

My brother and son immediately volunteered to go after it.  We all put our heads together (and our smart phones) to determine its last known position and they went after it.  It was about a kilometer from its ground station and 30 feet up in the tree!  I just didn’t have the altitude to clear the terrain, but it was so close.

Just look at my face – that expression says it all!

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This is about 10 minutes after the incident.  Yeah, still not at the reception…

RC

I have so much more respect for the RC community now that I’ve had a chance to fly with some of them.  And I’m talking strictly RC, not the new wave of folks who’ve purchased drones and are flying them around referring to themselves as RC folks.  I’m talking about the RC enthusiasts that go way back to flying with gas-powered craft.  I’ll equate it to talking with photographers who used to shoot on film and develop their own images.  These RC guys (and gals) were around long before we started slapping FPV cameras on the bottom of multi-rotors.  I only spent about 45 minutes around this group in Florida and gained a lot of respect.  It was really cool to watch and listen as they literally flew circles around me (I asked them to – made for better images).  For the record I am NOT an RC guy.  I’m just a photographer that uses an aerial platform.  I have so much to learn.

The RC field in Satellite Beach where I met some really cool RC folks.

The RC field in Satellite Beach where I met some really cool RC folks.  That’s an RC plane (top right) and that was as close as I was willing to get.

Travel

So it’s time to start traveling with the aerial rig.  I’m starting to think that my galleries are getting a little saturated with Winchester images (makes sense, right?).  Anyway, I know this isn’t very far from me, but it’s a start.  I recently shot some aerial footage for the town of Front Royal and, as always, I grabbed some stills while I was up there.  Gonna see if I can snag a Disney panorama while we’re in Florida this year.

Front Royal

It’s been a while since I’ve “framed” one of my images, but this one fits the bill. My goal is to do this up and down the valley with as many towns as possible…a little local traveling. | Order a print of this image.