Our new Artlab space at 130 S. Jackson St., Buzz Shop Studios:
I just got back from two weeks in the Utah desert, with a few days in Moab and about a week climbing in Indian Creek.Â This time I left the Cinestar 8 at home to mess with a new DJI Phantom, and the early prognosis is that it’s pretty amazing.Â It flies a GoPro Hero 3, which has some limitations, but it’s still very capable of producing incredible photos.Â For now video looks wobbly and problematic – it’s plagued by rolling shutter problems, and the fixed mount gives it a very un-cinematic feel.Â DJI is on the verge of releasing a stabilized gimbal, which should drastically improve the capabilities of the whole setup for video, which is very, very exciting.
In any case, it’s super easy to fly, has a bunch of advanced GPS capabilities, and with its tiny size, can fly from anywhere with virtually no assembly time.Â It was great for climbing photos from crazy, otherwise impossible angles – it’s easy to hand launch and land from the base of the crag, and in good light the GoPro shots look great:
If any at GoPro is listening, can we get a RAW file output on the still photos? That’d take the Hero3 to a whole new level for stuff like this and it seems like it’s just a firmware upgrade away…
As for DJI Innovations, they’re an amazing new company with an innovative foundation and a bright future:
I spent about an hour last week talking with Daniel and Lucien from allthingsthatfly.com about my experiences so far in the aerial world. These guys get pretty technical and most of their knowledge is way over my head, but we kept it pretty focused on the photo and video side of things, and my successes and some notable failures so far. The full audio is below, and the direct link to the site is here. I come in around 20 min 45 sec into the show:
I’ve spent some time the past few months shooting for Big-D Signature – they’re building some incredible custom homes in Jackson; flying the heli around their job sites was one of the major highlights of the summer. Here’s a quick vid:
And some non-construction stills too:
Flying in and out of Jackson can be an amazing experience â€“ or incredibly frustrating if you happen to be unceremoniously, anti-climatically smashed into a window seat on the wrong side of the plane. Iâ€™ve always wanted to shoot the Tetons from the air, so with a healthy bit of snow already frosting the high peaks and a two-day window of photo-friendly high pressure last week, I decided to take chance out of the equation and go up in a little Cessna at sunrise to see what I might see.
At the worst I figured it would be a fun, though somewhat costly adventure, but at the very least I knew the photos would probably be pretty decent. I got up at 4:45 and drove over to Driggs in the dark last Monday morning, only to find a thick bank of clouds over the Grand, and called off the flight. Aerial photoshoots always generate the most anxiety, but the next morning I repeated the nervous drive and everything came together on cue â€“ I spent two hours above 14,000 feet, circling the Tetons in perfect morning light â€“ the sum of which was one of the most ridiculous, incredible spectacles Iâ€™ve been lucky enough to witness since living in Jackson. Turns out the photos were pretty good too.
Found this on the Kessler Crane website last night – it features some beautiful aerials on both R/C and full-size platforms, and a bunch of other great camera work too from Montana-based Helio Collective. From the Searching for West website:
The hunt is a pursuit of balance, while searching for the unknown. The balance that death has struck with life, the one sustaining the other. Everything we eat was alive once. The farmer clears his field in autumn for new life in the spring, and thereâ€™s a rhythm to it all. One man in one place, doing just one thing at a time.
Mark Seacatâ€™s son, West, was born 10 days before elk season. Husband. Father. Hunter. Where does he draw the line on how much to sacrifice?
It’s been about a month since the first flight of my new Cinestar 8, and since then I’ve logged enough flight time to feel somewhat confident enough to actually try and shoot some cool stuff.Â I packed the helicopter up for our Utah climbing trip (trip reports – part 1 and part 2), and got a few good chances to fly, first in Indian Creek and then two days later in Moab at Fisher Towers.
Indian Creek was a little scary at first (a running theme when flying this thing with a 5d mkII strapped to it) – I flew at the base of Generic Crack from a somewhat flat-topped boulder, with about a 5 ft x 5 ft takeoff/landing zone.Â Given that I’d previously only really flown in big (soft) grassy fields, it was quite the transition – precision was of the utmost importance.Â Also new was trying to frame all the necessary elements (climber, belayer, scenery, etc.) from the air – I haven’t hooked up the first-person video system yet, so it was all essentially blind.Â In any case, I think a few of the shots turned out nicely, and all from an angle (as far as I know) never seen before…
Back in Moab, I planned to shoot my friends Jake and Luke on a sunrise ascent of Ancient Art at Fisher Towers.Â If you’re unfamiliar with Ancient Art, here’s a shot from a week prior of me on the final pitch and Jason Smith on the summit.Â The Fisher Towers area is mind-blowing, and the Corkscrew Summit of Ancient Art is no exception.Â So yeah, I had big plans to shoot those guys on the summit, and I had this image in my mind of what it’d look like, but pretty much everything went very, very wrong.Â In short : the Cinestar has a very powerful GPS waypoint mode where you can plug in coordinates that it’ll automatically follow, and as I flipped it into GPS mode, it went violently wobbling away at about 900 mph, directly towards a cliff and CERTAIN DOOM.Â I was 100% sure it was going to crash, so I flipped it back to manual control, gave it a ton of throttle, somehow avoided smashing into the wall, and flipped it into “come home” mode (yes, it does that too).Â By now it was about 300-400 feet above me (higher than I’ve ever flown), though in a happy, stable hover, so all I had to do was bring it back down to me and land.Â I’m not sure what exactly went wrong, probably a camera gimbal balance problem, but suffice to say that it was quite terrifying.Â Either way, the heli came home safe, and the one decent image is still pretty cool, even though I originally planned on flying much closer to the climbers.
So here are some photos, a bunch from Indian Creek, and the one from Ancient Art – the climbers are just tiny little ants, so there’s a 100% crop for reference.Â Next up, if the weather cooperates – City of Rocks, Idaho.