Drone photography

I’ve done a bit of it over the last 6 months, since I got my Florence. And, in all honesty, I think some of it is actually quite good. But obviously I’m still learning. This guy has got it sorted though:

This is the Ludwigskirche in Munich, and it’s an amazing photo, but there’s something rather puzzling about this building: that unbelievably ornate roof – why?

No-one (save for drone pilots – and I’m sure that architect Friedrich von Gärtner who built it from 1829 and 1844 wasn’t really considering them) is ever going to see it.
And then I learned that although the mosaic roof had always been in the original plans for the building, it was only installed between 2007 and 2009. I’m yet to work out firstly why the original plans were never followed, and then secondly why they were finally sorted 165 years later.

Of course, should you lean that way, you’ll understand that there is one pair of eyes that will gaze down from above and enjoy the beauty of the roof:

Look what beauty they have created to please me. I am pleased.

…and will surely reward those responsible with a fat golden handshake, or at least everlasting life in heaven above (where they too can then see the roof in all its glory).

Thankfully, with the advent of drones, you don’t have to be really good for your entire life and then pop your clogs to be able to see this amazing mosaic.

Photos and Weather

We were braced for the wet weather yesterday. One of the (many) nice things about living on the bottom corner of a big lump of land is that it’s fairly easy to see the iffy weather coming from quite a long way off. Thus, plans were made for an afternoon and evening in, with a roaring fire, some (or more) red wine, and a potjie dinner. The soundtrack was provided by Tony Christie, Snow Patrol and the Smashing Pumpkins, amongst others. Add a bit of Minecraft, some colouring books and a magazine or two, and you have a the best of a bad day – sorted.

Of course, the rain is no bad thing – we’re still ridiculously short of water in the Western Cape. But the cold, dry, still conditions associated with the high pressure that has been keeping the rain away are an absolute godsend for flying my Mavic. Yesterday – the evening in particular – was probably the best weather I have ever had the chance to fly in: the light, the wind, the temperature, the clarity: all near perfect. So… I flew. And I used the opportunity to take the Mavic about 750m out over the Atlantic – good prep for looking for whales 10kms up the road at Struisbaai in the near future (albeit that it’s a whole different ocean there, of course).

I’ll upload some photos when I get back to Cape Town, but as ever, if you can’t wait, then there’s always my Instagram which is, like, Instant.

Better weather today means that we’re off to my favourite restaurant down here, and the drive there through the Agulhas National Park usually yields some great photo opportunities (but no flying, obviously), so there’s even more for you to look forward to.

You lucky buggers.

False Bay Flight Fun

A quick lunchtime trip to the False Bay Rugby Club with the newly-mended Mrs 6000 gave me a chance to chuck the Mavic around, much to the joy of the kids and dads playing on the rugby field.

This was all about having fun, not a photo or video expedition, so there’s not much to report other than the fact that it was nice to get some fresh air and some more but you can have a look at a different view of things here if you want.

School holidays are now upon us, so not only does that mean an extra hour in bed each morning, but I will also be using every opportunity to spend some time with the kids and – because I have a little bit of annual leave coming up – flying some new places too.

Vlogging like Casey

OK. Before you begin to panic, don’t. I’m not about to start vlogging.

But we’re lucky enough to be living in an age where there are innumerate ways to communicate, be creative, and express and share your thoughts and feelings with others. It doesn’t mean that you have to have to use all of them. Indeed, some might argue that there’s far too much of this sort of thing going on, and they might be right, but then there’s always been far too much of a lot of stuff and far too little of other stuff going on all the time. That’s how life has always worked: it’s only the stuff that changes.

Casey Neistat is one product of this relatively new-found creative era. And, love him or hate him (or have some other, entirely more reasonable, entirely more moderate viewpoint of him), he’s done very well out of it. And this week, Casey Neistat shared some of his tips on vlogging, in his vlog How To Vlog Like Casey Neistat by Casey Neistat. 

Now, as I said, I don’t want to start a vlog. You people deserve so much more than you’re already getting from 6000 Miles… , let alone having to see my ugly mug on your computer screen each day. I wouldn’t do that to you. But, I would like to do more video-y stuff as an aside to the blog. Stuff like timelapses and drone shots. That sort of thing. So what does Casey say about that? (at 8:15)

Here’s something very important.
No-one gives a sh*t about your stupid timelapses and your stupid drone shots. That’s something I have to remind myself on a daily basis.

Ah. Right.

But thankfully, he’s talking about timelapses and drone shots as part of a vlog. And I’m not – as I may have mentioned – going to vlog.

Quite a lot of the information he shares might seem a bit redundant given that proviso, but there are certainly interesting snippets to take away which have a broader application. Using the best hardware you can in any given situation, avoiding shaky camerawork, the three-act narrative, and – as much as is possible – creating your own unique product; whether that’s from scratch or by building upon things you’ve learned from others doing the same sort of thing. A couple of those tips work really well for blogging as well.

Another fantastic thing about this information age is the accessibility to successful individuals for the ordinary person-on-the-web. There’s loads of great expert advice here (obviously, most especially for would-be or up-and-coming vloggers), and it’s free and easy to get at. The opportunities to educate and enrich yourself are all there. I might find someone who’s good at blogging and see what they have to say. Or… write. Whatever.

It’s not just Casey’s advice that I’m taking. I’m looking at videos and tutorials from photography and Mavic experts. I’m trying to be better at the things I am trying to do, and the internet makes that a whole lot easier than it used to be. The only issue now is finding the time between watching the videos and tutorials to actually put any of the new-found knowledge into practice.

James Kingston has got a Mavic

You may remember James Kingston from this post. Some of the stuff he does is a bit nutty, so when I saw the title of his latest video: It Finally Happened, I guessed that he had thrown a seven. Climbing tall things may be thrilling and yield some amazing shots, but it’s also incredibly dangerous, and one day, the videos will just stop.

I wondered if It Finally Happened was the video that he had made, with instructions for friends and family to release it should gravity get one over on him.

But no… I think he is saying that he has finally got a DJI Mavic Pro (like many other Youtube “celebs”) and that this is his first video flying it.

If you want to see the droney bit, it’s about halfway through – you’ll need to start from somewhere around 8:35. Featuring an impressive hand launch, some frankly terrifying footage of him standing an awful long way up from what appears to be a very solid ground, and copious use of the Mavic’s Intelligent POI (Point Of Interest) Mode. (As I have tested previously here.)

Once again, I am reminded how good editing can make a difference to Mavic footage, and once again, I remind myself that my PC  simply won’t allow me to even start to learn this sort of thing and that one massive technological purchase a year is – sadly – probably enough.