Learning To Fly: DJI Inspire Pro and Mavic Pro Drones

My first drone a few years ago was pretty basic by today’s standards.  Low quality camera, a few minutes of battery life.  No object avoidance:  You were truly on your own.  I flew it a few times, then it went in the closet.

Something about the DJI Mavic Pro made me want to check it out.  I got one and took it to Iceland where it flew once.  My mind was elsewhere.  Back home, I flew it up around Mount Baker and down at Mount Rainier.  Drones had clearly come along a way.  Tons of features, compact and easy to fly.  A reasonable camera for the price.

Of course, coming from Sony a7r2 and Zeiss lenses, I wanted more from the camera.  I looked around and realized I needed a DJI Inspire.  What I really wanted was the included X5 camera which allows different lenses and a nice micro 4/3rds sensor.  It comes with a Leica-ish 30mm kit lens and I recently added an Olympus 90mm 1.8 lens as well.

So the journey begins in drone photography and videos.  Here’s a sampling of what I’ve come up with so far.  Honestly, it’s a bit daunting sending that much money up in the air.

Salt Marsh Aerial Photography DJI Mavic Pro

Salt Marsh Aerial Photography DJI Mavic Pro

Tideflats Colors Aerial Photography DJI Mavic Pro

Tideflats Colors Aerial Photography DJI Mavic Pro

Tideflats Colors and Patterns Aerial Photography DJI Mavic Pro

Tideflats Colors and Patterns Aerial Photography DJI Mavic Pro

Aerial Photography Drone Rainier White River

Aerial Photography Drone Rainier White River DJI Mavic Pro

Above the Forest and Road

Above the Forest and Road DJI Mavic Pro

drone photography, aerial photography

Above the Lake Tipsoo and Road at Defrost DJI Mavic Pro

drone photography, aerial photography

Drone Photography Road Through the Forest Dji Mavic Pro

drone photography, aerial photography

About to Land through Sunlit Trees DJI Inspire Pro

Drone Photography Rainier at Sunrise 90mm

Drone Photography Rainier at Sunrise DJI Inspire Pro 90mm

drone photography, aerial photography

Mount Rainier and Yakima Peak at Sunrise DJI Inspire Pro

aerial photography, drone photography, iceland photography

Aerial Photography Fresh Snow on Peaks in Iceland DJI Mavic Pro

drone photography, aerial photography

Nooksack River Heads to the Sunset DJI Mavic Pro

drone photography, aerial photography

Smaller Rivers Lead to Larger Ones DJI Mavic Pro

And finally a video from Rainier this morning

 

Aerial Volcano Photography

Aerial Approaching Mount St Helens at Dusk

Aerial Approaching Mount St Helens at Dusk

Ok well Mount St Helens isn’t an active volcano per se.  It last erupted and basically blew its top off in May of 1980.  Like most people in Seattle of a certain age, I remember what I was doing on that date.  I was rollerskating around Gasworks Park to Donna Summer.  Ok then.

Anyway, the result of the happenings on that date back in 1980 are a very photogenic crater in SW Washington.  I have a friend who likes to fly and we went up last night and headed down to Mount St Helens. I brought two Zeiss prime MF lenses and my Sony a7r2. My friend who was also shooting had his 5DSr and 24-70.

I was in the front seat, wearing all black to reduce glare. Kurt basically flies wherever we need to get the shots we want. I had the camera set to internal stabilization and the MF lens set to infinity. When I shot out the side window, glare creeped in but shooting through the curved front glass cut it down considerably. I watched my shutter speeds to keep them above 1/300 as much as possible.

I got about 1000 RAW files and so far about 85% are keepers…I love this perspective of the mountain and I think we both did a nice job of capturing the sunset light.

Approaching Boeing Field at Night Seattle Aerial night Photography

Approaching Boeing Field at Night

Sunstar Lights Up Mount St Helens at Sunset

Sunstar Lights Up Mount St Helens at Sunset

Golden Light on Mount St Helens from the Air

Golden Light on Mount St Helens from the Air

Sunset Skies Above Mount St Helens from the Air

Sunset Skies Above Mount St Helens from the Air

Sunrays Bathe the Volcanic Wasteland Below St Helens from the Air

Sunrays Bathe the Volcanic Wasteland Below St Helens from the Air

Mount St Helens Aerial Crater Closeup

Mount St Helens Aerial Crater Closeup

Mount St Helens Aerial Photography Sunset

Mount St Helens Aerial Photography Sunset

Snow and Mud Details along the Crater of St Helens Aerial

Snow and Mud Details along the Crater of St Helens Aerial

Crater of St Helens onto Spirit Lake and Rainier in the Distance

Crater of St Helens onto Spirit Lake and Rainier in the Distance

Sunset Light Warms up the St Helens Crater Aerial Photography

Sunset Light Warms up the St Helens Crater Aerial Photography

Sunset Light Warms up the St Helens Crater Aerial Photography

Sunset Light Warms up the St Helens Crater Aerial Photography

Edge of St Helens Crater and Rainier in the Distance Aerial Photography

Edge of St Helens Crater and Rainier in the Distance Aerial Photography

Approaching Mount St Helens By Helicopter Panorama

Approaching Mount St Helens By Helicopter Panorama

 

 

Mount Rainier Photography – Risking the Weather

With a busy weekend coming up and a forecast for mostly rain and some snow, I decided to slip down to Stevens Canyon Road and scout around a bit for shots.  The road was supposed to open on Friday so I was really eager to get on it and see how things looked.  I really prefer the 410 approach as I find Puyallup and Meridian to be depressing in a sociological sense.  I like the drive through Enumclaw, stopping for some coffee, getting supplies and gas at Safeway and then slowly approaching my favorite parts of MRNP via 410 and breathing easier with every mile.

I sidetracked up to Tipsoo to see how the lake was melting out.  Rainier itself was in the clouds and the lake showed a lot of promise.  Then down 123 to the Entrance at Grove of the Patriarchs.  To make a longer story shorter, I drove around Stevens Canyon Road until about 7pm, watching clouds fly by, occasional snow flurries, some rain, but never a really clear shot of the mountain.

Brief glimpse of Rainier amongst fast-moving clouds. Zeiss 85mm Otus

Brief glimpse of Rainier amongst fast-moving clouds. Zeiss 85mm Otus

The Castle, along the Tatoosh Range. Zeiss 100-300mm

The Castle, along the Tatoosh Range. Zeiss 100-300mm

Stevens Canyon Ridge Details

Stevens Canyon Ridge Details. Zeiss 100-300mm

Driving back to Seattle, a lot of traffic was heading out of town.  After about an hour on I-5, any sense of backcountry relaxation was gone.  I meandered along in the slow lane, watching others soar by.  Passing through the city, my mellow self was giving way to the irritated, curmudgeonly Seattle native in me.

My Friday the 13th Adventure – Rainier Icy Cloudscape Reflections

So I got back from going down to Rainier Friday night to see how the lakes were thawing.  Turns out they are amazing so I will be going back down next week early for some sunrise.  Highlights of the Friday the 13th trip:

– Leaving at 1pm wasn’t early enough – still bad traffic down 167

– Lots of people in the park

– I get to Reflection Lakes and they appear mostly frozen but a few thawed spots.  I hike out to one and get some nice shots.  I see this guy watching me and sure enough once I get back to the road he pounces with all these questions ie Is it safe? (maybe)  Did you get a reflection? (yes).  You can tell he’s been studying this situation for about an hour or more.

– I drive down to the Snow Lake trailhead and two guys are parked there happily smoking.  Turns out they are from the South.  Of course, who else smokes in the park?  🙂

– I hike out to the lake in my Sorels.  There is no trail but some faint bootprints.  I eventually find my way and the lake is gorgeous.  I stay til sunset and get some great shots. I wander over through the brush to this 1000 foot sheer drop and get some nice shots but kinda regret the risk.  I also manage to butt dial my sister which is surprising that I got cell reception and hearing her voice from my pocket was funny.

– I decide to hike back before its pitch black even though I have my headlamp.  My route goes straight up this steep hill but I find my way.  I punch through some snow and land in a creek but am still dry.  I find this steep trail down to the road and it works.

– Driving back down out of the park I run into these two kids hiking back in darkness.  The girl has made a crutch out of a stick since she sprained her ankle.  I gave them a ride to their car at Longmire.

– Driving past Alder at 60-ish mph, a deer wanders onto the road.  I manage to swerve and miss it.

– Driving through Spanaway and Parkland – what  a twilight zone of crushed dreams 🙂

 

whew…home at 1130

 

Mike

 

Mount Rainier Icy Cloudscape ReflectionMount Rainier Icy Cloudscape ReflectionDSC03264Mount Rainier Icy Cloudscape ReflectionMount Rainier Icy Cloudscape ReflectionMount Rainier Icy Cloudscape Reflection

Over Seattle. Aerial Shooting with Sony a7r2 and Zeiss 55mm

Got about an hour’s notice to go flying but I can definitely be ready quickly.  We flew for about an hour around Seattle and I was able to capture several great shots.  Most were keepers in fact.  I was shooting through glass in a Robinson R66 copter. #seattle #aerial

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Seattle Area Photography Classes and Tours

photography classes and tours

Seattle area photography classes and tours from a Seattle native.

 

People reach out to me from time to time about classes and tours around the area.  I think my body of work online and in print leads people to ask if I can help them get similar results.  This is something I really enjoy doing especially in small groups.  I have a training background in software instruction and teaching comes naturally to me.  I can put together a half day class or tour or more.  Contact me for details.  Contact me for more details about a class or tour

Flying Around the Snowy Cascades

Had the chance yesterday to go flying with some friends up around the Central Cascades as we got a nice clear day finally.  I went with my Sony A7R2 for its in-camera lens stabilization and my Zeiss 55/1.8 lens for its fast aperture and great rendering.  With the settings on Continuous AF, Steady Shot set at 55mm and burst mode, I got mostly keepers.

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View of the Snowy Cascade range

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Snowy Cascades in the foreground leading up to Mount Rainier

seattle arial photography

A snowy Ridge atop the Cascades

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Very popular hike called Mount Si peaks here, with a view back towards Seattle