Tag Archives drone

Happy #TravelTuesday one and all! I’m Dave Williams, coming at you from Tallinn, Estonia where I’m exploring this old city in search of coffee, burgers, and awesome views! This week, I have a secret tip for your drone photography.

 

 

Everyone wants to know what they’re doing wrong, right? Well, here’s what you’re doing wrong! The top rookie drone pilot mistake, aside from flying in the wrong places (I won’t go there, though), is…

When people get a drone they go through actions not dissimilar to when they get a window seat on a plane. What us humans tend to do is take a photo of that place down below us, familiar to us, from a new perspective. We get on the plane and, as it takes off over our local city, we see things we recognise out of the window and shoot them for the sake of shooting them. It’s not a bad thing; I’m not saying that at all. If anything, it’s pretty cool to get that new perspective of such a familiar place and to see how things look relative to one another from up there. It’s tantamount to what we all did when we first discovered Google Street View—we suddenly had the technological ability to literally go anywhere we wanted in the entire world and despite that, we all did the exact same thing. We opened up the map, we took hold of that little man, and we all dragged him and dropped him into the exact same position: our front door! We like to see things from a new perspective; it’s clearly in our nature. This little trait we all seem to have rubs off in our drone photography and we need simply to be aware of it in order to avoid it.

 

 

When flying a drone, as I’ve explained in my KelbyOne class, we need to fly like a movie director. This means not simply lifting off and turning the camera to view the place we took off from. It means applying all that we know about photography, such as light, composition, and subject matter, and applying it to the new camera up in the air. It’s simply another camera, which is now removed from us—the same rules and principles apply.

Don’t be the passenger in the window seat. Make your drone photography stand out among the crowd.

Much love

Dave

 

Hello there! It’s #TravelTuesday again so it’s that time of the week that I, Dave Williams, jump in right here on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider to share something that will hopefully fill in a gap somewhere in your creative flow! Today, as I head off on a mission to Iceland, I want to tell you about something that I’ve found valuable in the field of drone photography and videography. I want to tell you how to pull a still from a video so that you can retouch it as if it were a photo in Adobe Photoshop – something I do when I shoot with my drone quite regularly.

First up, load the video you want to pull a frame from in Adobe Premiere Pro. In this example I’m using Premiere Pro CC 2018.

Now move the Playhead to the position within the video from which you want to pull the still image.

 

 

In this example I’m taking a still from a video I made at Kilt Rock during my trip to the Isle of Skye in Scotland last week. Gushing over the cliff at Kilt Rock is Mealt Falls landing straight into the sea. I caught a composition of the two on video and I want to make something of it, so I’ve set my Playhead to the right point and I’m ready to pull out the still.

Next up, hit the Export Frame button. When you do this you’re presented with a dialogue box which gives you a couple of options.

 

 

First up is the File Name. We can change this name to whatever suits. Further underneath that is the Path option, the destination of which we can change using the Browse button. The option that’s rather more important to us here is the Format field. Once we change this it remains selected as that format each time we do this until we change it. There are a few options here, one of which as a photographer we may not be so familiar with, and that one is DPX. This stands for Digital Picture Exchange and it’s the format used when scanning film which records colour density and in fact records a lot of data relating to the frame. The more common formats we’ll see here are TIFF and PNG. Personally I choose PNG, however it all comes down to your preference and your intentions.

 

 

Once we’ve hit OK after selecting the format and destination of the file we can go ahead and take it from our folder straight into Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom to make the adjustments we’d make to any other photo. It’s that simple, yet surprisingly often overlooked.

 

 

I hope that little nugget was useful for you! As always, do let me know how you get on, and you can show myself or KelbyOne on Instagram if you want, we love to see! You can keep track of my Iceland adventure right on my Instagram too!

Much love

Dave

You need a drone…right?

It’s that time of week again! #HybridDaveTuesdays, on #TravelTuesday, right here on ScottKelby.com—boom! So, I caught you with that bait title and now I need to deliver the goods. Let’s do this!

 

Old Harry Rocks in Dorset, UK, shot from my Mavic Pro

I’ll start by offering you a view of Old Harry (the little rock at the end closest to the lens) as seen from 69 metres up. It’s a view that would have cost the price of renting a helicopter or airplane, gambling with the risk of weather, and far less flexibility in maneuvering and fine-tuning.

The market for consumer and prosumer drones is growing like you wouldn’t believe. DJI, manufacturers of the Phantom and Mavic among others, are now the worlds largest aircraft manufacturer AND the worlds largest camera manufacturer. So what does that mean for us photographers?

Well, for me as a travel photographer, it’s all about two things:

  1. Capturing familiar places from unseen angles.
  2. Finding brand new places with no previously seen view.

That means using a drone, which can travel the world with me and can demonstrate an optical performance, which maintains the aesthetics of my portfolio. Mavic, if you were wondering. But, this post isn’t about why I need a drone, it’s about why you need one!

Number one: It’s the best toy ever! The number of times I’m flying and some passer-by sees me with a controller in my hand and immediately stops in their tracks, craning their neck skyward, trying to nonchalantly spot my drone soaring high; or the yell of a child upon noticing the whirr of the rotors, exclaiming to their parents, “Look, a drone!” It’s a fantastic attention-grabber and this translates to the commercial world of a subscribed audience—for example, the fascination of guests and couples when I’ve pulled out a drone whilst shooting weddings is a great marketing tool, not to mention the awesome perspective the paying couple will get for their album.

 

Somewhere in the Black Forest in Germany, shot from my Mavic Pro

Next up, it opens up a whole world when it comes to water. A lot of drone work we see includes water, and that’s because it’s an entirely new world which, short of hiring a helicopter or a boat, wasn’t possible before drones. We can get low and shoot long, get a bit of altitude and throw in some 45-degree views, or go straight up and shoot bird’s eye view, just as a few from many possibilities. Water is, as we all know, the carpet to two-thirds of our planet, and the amount of action going on there carries an intimate captivity, which lends itself to so many awesome views.

 

The Pacific Ocean, off the California coast, shot with my Phantom 3

 

Malibu Farm Pier, CA, shot with my Phantom 3

Drone flying is just impressive. People are fascinated by flight, and by cool new views of things, and the fact that you have a toy (/weapon) in your backpack that can launch—that’s right I said launch—is just intrinsically cool! Drones are one of the most impressive pieces of commercially available kit to hit the ground (see what I did there?) in the last few years, and with just a little practice, you can get some awesome photos and videos to share and boost both your portfolio and your reputation. Also, when you talk about your drone, you get to use words like “velocity” and “attitude,” which makes me wet myself a little bit. ;)

The dot next to the rental is me, shot in Arizona with my Phantom 3

The cost: It’s cheaper than you think! My first drone experience involved a lot of money. And a crash. That memory echoed through me every time I looked at getting another drone, in particular, the cost of replacing it if I killed another one. Well, the advances that have been made in drone tech are astounding. Two particular examples that stand out to me in terms of the automatic features, which DJI spent many, many hours perfecting in order to stop me from crashing my drone, are these:

I was driving through the USA. Nevada, I think. I was making my way along a valley and noticed the awesome mountain changing beside me. It was near Navajo Rock and bore colours not dissimilar to it, so I had to get the drone up and get the shot. Winds were steady and high, but out came the DJI Phantom 3. I took off and the wind caught the Phantom, taking it sideways toward a rock face. The thing was nearly on its side in the air, but the GPS and all the other gadgets built into it kept it flying steady, albeit practically on its side. My better judgment told me to land it, but the demonstration of its stability was incredible, and the awesome tech flew by itself to keep in position.

The other example is when I took the photo up top of Old Harry Rocks in Dorset, a couple of miles from my parent’s home. I stood on a cliff top and the winds were gusting something unreal—the air was still, then felt about 50 MPH, then back to still, then back to 50 in seconds. I had my DJI Mavic Pro on the ground all ready to go. When you launch a drone, it’s good practice to hold a low hover for a short time as a kind of systems-check, and in the case of the Mavic, it takes that opportunity to use two ground-facing cameras to take a snapshot of its take-off point, so it can auto-land back in the exact spot. Whilst I held this hover, the intermittent, wild wind made my poor Mavic flap. My drone was literally wobbling in the air as if it were Homer Simpson on one of those fat shakers. The sound of the motors working hard with fine changes to deal with the deflected air buffeting the cliff below was a sad, sad sound, but it held itself with no control input from me, keeping its cool and just dealing with it until I gave it enough altitude to get out of the situation. Kudos, DJI.

But, what I was actually talking about was the price. That Phantom 3 is around $500, and the Mavic is around $1000. For what you get it’s totally worth the investment. By the way, never say anything like “I digress.” All that does is remind people that you’re digressing. ;)

 

A shot from a wedding taken with my Phantom 3

The photos and videos you can make can be absolutely stunning. Interesting at worst. I don’t need to explain this point in depth, as it pretty much speaks for itself. Drone laws are surprisingly relaxed. In the USA, stay below 400 feet, don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport (unless you’ve contacted the tower for permission), don’t fly over the Super Bowl—it’s basically all common sense. Just don’t risk being one of those drone pilots who makes the evening news and screws up my and Terry White‘s fun!

 

The Alpine foothills on the Austrian/German border, shot with my Mavic Pro

So, what about commercial use? Well my buddy J.R. (who can be seen here on Instagram) has photos plastered on his pickup advertising his successful photography business, and occupying a third of the back portion is a shot of his DJI Phantom 4. It’s there for good reason, and the reason is that the perspective offered by drones brings a whole new lease on life into real estate photography. (Lease. Get it? Real estate… catch up!) Not only that, but tennis clubs, golf clubs, marinas, country houses, aerial surveys—they are all potential earners for your photo/video business if you have a drone.

 

Soaring above Simi Valley, taken by J.R Maddox with his Phantom 4

 

By J.R Maddox with his Phantom 4

 

So, in summary, if you’re thinking of getting a drone, you probably should! It’s a decision you won’t regret!

 

Much love,

Dave

 

A Gator in Florida shot on my Phantom 3
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