mcottondesign

Loving Open-Souce One Anonymous Function at a Time.

HUVR Truck

Showing off our truck on a nice, sunny afternoon. Shot with a Phantom 3 Pro and an Inspire 1.

Small Improvements Over Time

Improving takes time and patience and lots of near-misses. There is usually a narrow window in to capture the ideal scene and if you aren't in position and ready you will miss it. I continue to be 10 minutes late, out of battery or space on the SD card when I realize this is the shot I wanted.

In this case, I wanted to try the waters before going again the next day. The challenges of shooting downtime is that you attract too much attention to play around with expensive equipment as a crowd gathers.

Austin after Sunset

Pushing the distance out a little further and keeping it low across the water. Experimenting with Final Cut Pro X to get the titles and transition.

Out on the a Bat Cruise

I had a terrific time with @LSRiverboats getting this footage. This was captured in 4k@30fps but rendered to 720p for Vimeo. The initial shot was digitally zoomed in and the reset is right off the camera. Some minor exposure correction was done in post to make every match.

This was a lot of fun but extremely challenging to operate from a boat. There were two boats, fading daylight, bats and other groups to contend with. Thankfully everything worked out and I am happy with the results.

Getting Better

I've been trying for quite some time to get this shot. It was interesting because this was also my longest distance flight. I only went 1000ft' up the river away and it took a lot of squinting to keep it in sight.

Another Try at an Old Location

This was taken out front of the Austin City Power Plant and is using the new manual camera controls of the Phantom 3 Pro.

It is hard to go back to previews locations and try to get a fresh take. The challenge is to that you are no longer looking at it with fresh eyes. This is made worse if you liked the results from previous tries.

I am challenging myself to throw away my previous work. All locations (except the Capital) are fair game. I am also going to not get hung up on having done the shot before. I will also shamelessly steal good ideas for others. I am still in the beginner phase and am in no position to be selective.

Smooth Sailin'

This is video from my first flight with the new Phantom 3 Pro. I picked it up earlier today and ran it through its paces. So far, it is a significant improvement from the Phantom 2 Vision +. The iOS app is the major differentiator. All the other features are in support of the app. The remote is the same as the Inspire 1 and feels much more refined. Common features can be done using hard buttons and there is less time spent pawing at the app. I am a big fan of physical buttons and not having to look at what I'm pushing.

I have (foolishly) upgraded my iPad Retina mini to beta versions of iOS 9. The DJI app isn't playing nicely with the new HD video streaming. I can't hold this against them.

Setbacks and Crashes

This is an older video that I hadn't posted yet. It is from a couple months ago and has nothing to do with the rest of the post.

I had a crash earlier in the week that has destroyed my Phantom 2. Almost immediately after take it it lost all power and unceremoniously fell from the sky. My first reaction was shock. I don't know if the battery wasn't seated all the way or it experienced a different malfunction.

After some time to think, my shock turned to gratitude. Gratitude that this wasn't over water, wasn't for a client, wasn't over a road, wasn't over a crowd. I don't fly over crowds but it is always tempting to push the boundaries.

Pushing the boundaries is what makes this emerging field exciting. Getting these images end of being expensive when you look at the output that gave from the money invested.

I can't wait to announce my next aircraft.

Getting more cinematic

The goal was to make a short compilation from several different shots. I wanted something visually interesting without spending hours on each shot. This was all done on just one battery. Except for the last shot, we only took one pass at each shot and didn't review anything. I had several more shots in mind, but will save those for another compilation. I enjoying improvising and the preasure of just starting the camera.

Sunrise Panorama

This is a composite image from several individual shots. It was taken a peaceful Sunday morning just after sunrise. I really enjoy Sunday mornings photo shoots. Austin is still recovering from its collective hangover, the roads are empty, and the sun isn't scorching hot, yet.

There is something more challenging about get a sunrise picture. Sunsets are easy, I can tell how the sunset will turn out on my drive home. There is a very little risk that the weather will change between packing up setting up. On the downside, flying at sunset garners more attention and then you are working home in the dark (with expensive equipment).

Most importantly, after a nice Sunday morning out flying you can always get breakfast tacos on the way back to bed. Let me know if you are interested in this image.

Making Progress

I'm starting to make progress with my ariel photography. The images and video are making me cringe less. I'm starting very basic and working up slowly. Instead of just cranking up fancy effects in LightRoom or adding some razzle-dazzle from Final Cut Pro. Right now it is about making something that works well as Desktop wallpaper.

This blog is the new starting point for a gallery. The goal is more about progress instead of a store of available prints. (That's not to stay I won't sell out and turn this into a store). If there is something that catches your fancy, fell free to reach out.

Putting in the hours

One of the great advantages to sharing your beginner work is that you are able to see rapid progress. The initial learning curve is usually pretty quick. Making a Vimeo and YouTube channel and posting to reddit provide quick feedback. A lot of the feedback will be critical of what you are doing, but this is all part of learning.

Once you reach a certain level of achievement you reach a plateau and growth levels off. This is usually a key area of attrition. The funnel tightens and many people are happy to stop getting better. It is important to identify what the next achievement will look like and keep moving towards it. For me, it was being included in an actual video production.

If you are interested, get in touch with Brent at In Focus Video

Picking a new hobby and starting over

I'm trying out a new hobby, that has been a casual interest of mine. This year is going to be the year of GoPro photography. It is a kind of weird idea, but the idea is really simple. I've bought the Hero 4 Black so there isn't a better model I can blame for my shortcomings. There is also a wide enough group of users posting their content that I have a significant yard stick to compare myself to.

What have I learned so far?

I've learned that it is easy to have an opinion about what looks good but it is very hard to produce something that I am proud to share. This is the challenge of creative work. My initial work is an embarrassment so far. It is well below the standard I want to produce but this is exactly the point.

What do I want to get out of this?

I want to produce work that I am proud to share. Also, I want to be more comfortable sharing my work. Expanding the things I am comfortable doing without much notice is a sign that I'm progressing towards being an interesting human being.

The same things that hold me back from dancing at weddings are the same things that hold me back with my creative work. This way I'll have something interesting to show people who are also not dancing at weddings.