Dronie Sunday – 29 March 2020

Buckeye, Arizona.

OK, so I took a break from my drone photography this winter. It’s been a busy season for me between Civil Air Patrol activities, nearby travel destinations, and even a Caribbean cruise (just before CoronaVirus, fortunately.) Part of my issue revolved around how to get to a photogenic place in the desert where I could set up the drone. The carrying case I had been using for the Mavic Air is a repurposed video projector bag that once belonged to a long-since broken projector. It wouldn’t be the best way to schlep the drone and accessories on a hike.

Awhile back I was unpacking from our cruise and I came across a small backpack that I’d purchased to carry water and accessories on our cruise ship excursions. Sure enough, the entire drone kit and all accessories, except the safety vest and collapsible landing pad fit nicely into the backpack. A couple of Saturdays ago, Lynn and I set out to find a suitable place to test the process. We picked the Petroglyph Trail near the Buckeye community of Verrado. We found a relatively level and open area just off the trail and I set up the system. Total distance on the hike from the trailhead to the shooting location and back was 2.2 miles (3.5 km).

You can see the empty blue backpack on the rock near where I am standing. The dark gray cases carry the drone, batteries, controller, and the other bits and pieces of a hobby that truly is the antithesis of “point and shoot.” My job is to fly the drone, compose images and set exposure using the controller screen and take the photos. Lynn’s job is to watch the drone as I maneuver to ensure that I don’t inadvertently fly into something that I can’t see on my screen. Since the drone can fly in any direction, I often “can’t see where I am going” as I maneuver the drone to capture the best composition.

About the photo: The Mavic Air has a fixed aperture of f/2.8. That is a sensitive lens so on bright days, shutter speeds of 1/4000 or faster are common. This image was captured at 1/2500 sec., ISO-100. After downloading from the drone’s micro-USB card, I cataloged it in Lightroom, made a few basic edits there, and then exported it to Luminar 4 for final processing.

I think I can find a way to temporarily attach the landing pad to the back of the pack so I won’t have to carry it in my hand on the next hike. Some drone pilots might scoff at the use of the pad, but in the loose desert soil, that prop wash from the drone’s four blades would stir up a lot of dust that could easily settle on the lens and “cloud up” the images before I even start.


Dronie Sunday – 24 November 2019

Howard, Colorado.

During this summer’s travels, we stopped on our way to Antonito, Colorado at Pleasant Valley Campground near the small town of Howard. The summer getaway place of our friends Fred and Ellen became a good place to show off the Mavic Air. We walked over to a part of the campground with open skies and launched. Located next to the Arkansas River, the view of an abandoned railroad track and gravel road made for a decent composition. Continue reading

Dronie Sunday – 20 October 2019

Moorhead, Minnesota.

The Red River forms the border between North Dakota and Minnesota and is one of the few rivers in the country to flow north, its headwaters begin at the confluence of the Ottertail and Bois de Sioux Rivers near the city of Breckenridge, Minnesota. From there it meanders northward separating the two states until it leaves the United States near the border crossing just north of Pembina, North Dakota. It finally terminates at Lake Winnipeg, the fifth largest lake in Canada. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Angles

Fargo, North Dakota.

This week Ann-Christine asks us to look at photography from different angles. As a landscape photographer, I often go to a “new-to-me” place and take oodles of images of the subjects at different angles. The goal of trying different compositions is that something in one of the angles captured adds a little extra something to make it a more interesting photograph. As her contribution to the challenge, she features a couple of fascinating sand sculptures captured from different angles. You can read her entire challenge post here. Continue reading

Dronie Sunday – 18 August 2019

Fargo, North Dakota.

It’s been a month since I’ve shared a “dronie” photo. I haven’t had much of a chance to take photos from the aerial platform. With a trip to Winnipeg and another to Baltimore in the last few weeks, I’ve barely had time to only complete some proficiency flights as a remote pilot. I hope to change that in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I felt it’s time to share another image captured from one of my first attempts at using the remote photo software built into the DJI Go4 application I use to operate the Mavic Air. Continue reading

Dronie Sunday – 14 July 2019

Fargo, North Dakota.

It’s been a rocky start to getting the drone I purchased to automatically update its airspace database information, but after returning it to the manufacturer, they replaced the unit and this one is working properly. Now I am learning more about camera operations having learned to be comfortable flying the airborne camera. I got into drone flying because of Civil Air Patrol. They are ramping up mission training for using drones in several important operations, not the least of which is search and rescue. At some point I expect our ground teams will be able to deploy a drone to search areas where their vehicles or even walking the area is either uncomfortable or hazardous. Continue reading