Dronie Sunday – 15 September 2019

Ogallala, Nebraska.

For an upcoming Travel Tuesday, we planned a visit to Lake McConaughy, a manmade lake and popular recreation area in western Nebraska. Today would be the first day I used photos from my airborne camera to add aerial images to my travel posts. I haven’t yet had any negative interactions with bystanders who are understandably curious when they hear that whine and spot the flashing lights on the small drone that I use.

I think that part of the reason for a lack of negative interaction, at least so far, is the safety vest I wear that identifies me as an FAA-licensed drone pilot and (hopefully) the professional manner in which I operate. Passers-by stop and comment, many with questions, especially when they see the drone launch skyward. So far, no one has attempted to talk to me while the drone was airborne, but once I’ve landed, that’s when they’ve spoken up. On this day, after I finished with my flight, a group of ladies approached me to ask some questions. I took that as an opportunity to put a positive spin on drone operations. I asked them if it would be OK for me to launch the drone and take some photos of them. Bringing up the drone to head height, I captured their faces as I showed them the live video feed from the Mavic Air. Of course, I asked for their email addresses which Lynn, as my visual observer, noted on the flight log she keeps. Once I processed the photos, I emailed them some copies. They reciprocated the favor by telling us some sights we should check out near Colorado Springs, our final destination for this particular trip.

About the photo: Capturing images is easy from the controller. You may note that my right index finger is resting on the edge of the controller. Immediately under my finger is the button that captures still images. As with any camera, a slight press of the shutter button captures an image. On the other side is a similar button that activates video mode. At first I started out in automatic exposure mode using JPG images while I was busy learning to fly the platform. I have since set the system to capture RAW files (DNG format) and to display a histogram over the video feed. With a fixed f/2.8 lens and my desire to keep the image free as possible from noise, I keep the ISO set at 100, the lowest it will go. That means I can only adjust the shutter speed. I manually set it on-screen using the histogram to determine the best exposure, in this case, 1/1600 sec. One accessory kit I purchased, but haven’t yet felt the need to use, is a lens filter set that includes UV, polarization, and several neutral density filters. The image was processed with Adobe Lightroom and Luminar Flex. In most browsers, you can click on the image to enlarge it for a better view.

John Steiner

2 thoughts on “Dronie Sunday – 15 September 2019

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