• Drone Diaries: Fremantle Harbour

    Given the devestating news that I'd not be permitted to take the Phantom to Cambodia, it would be quite some time before the next opportunity to get out of Melbourne with it arose. That time came with my recent visit to Perth, where there could be no place better for a sunset than Challenge Harbour, Fremantle. Further photo evidence here.

    Following some scary technical issues with the aircraft, this series of shots was achieved from close range at very low alititude where an emergency landing wouldn't mean a soggy loss of many dollars!

    What went well:

    • Low flying shots in positions usually achieved with a camera on foot yielded more interesting results with the wide lens of the GoPro. I've found that purely aerial footage has limited appeal.
    • Knowing when not to trust the technology to save itself, and fly short-range until confidence is regained.
    • Outstanding timing and location choice!

    What I learned today:

    • Learn the indications of flight readiness inside-out and wait for them before taking off. Failing to wait for self-test and GPS-lock confirmation caused two lost connections and forced landings, both nearly ditching the Phantom in deep water!
    • Have a plan before shooting commences to maximise effective use of the batteries' flight time. Burning through power while experimenting might work, but with a little experience previsualising will always get more usable shots. Or buy more batteries!
  • Drone Diaries: Melbourne City

    I have a list in my head of all the places I'd love to let this thing loose. One is here at Birrarung Marr Park, on the southeast corner of the Melbourne CBD. An open space to launch from without ruffling feathers, but ludicrously close to some fantastic landmarks and points of interest. I bravely (stupidly?) flew out to the edge of the Phantom's range over the River Yarra, but naturally that was one of my favourite shots. Risks. Sometimes you just gotta take 'em.

    What went well:

    • Drone operating with my cinematography hat on rather than my aviators hat.
    • Pushing the limits carefully in terms of range and risk to equipment. Doing more to get the shot.
    • Bringing all the necessary equipment (spare battery!) and double-checking GoPro settings before takeoff.

    What I learned today:

    • If instinct and the tools at hand say a sunrise is better than a sunset for a particular location, set an alarm and caffeinate. Don't take the easy route.
    • When a fatal crash is imminent, breathe deeply, think logically. Don't touch the sticks without absolute certainty that the way they're being jerked will help.
  • Drone Diaries: Melbourne Star at Sunset

    Those not Facebook friends or Instagram followers (@45x) of mine can be forgiven for not knowing how I recently chose to spend a fair portion of my meager student income. On a DJI Phantom 2; currently the world's bestselling GoPro-carrying quadcopter.

    "Any buyers remorse?" you might wonder. Not likely. Not when shots like this are so easy to accomplish. A drone owner's primary job to put something interesting in front of it, and if you're down in this corner of Australia there are few things on the urban landscape more striking than the Melbourne Star. Here's an Instagram-compliant 15-second clip of what was captured.

    What went well:

    • Location planning. Use of a carpark nearby for safe operation and clear views of the sky.
    • Timing. Catching the right train/tram combo to get me there for this sublime light.

    What I learned today:

    • Always carry a spare battery!
    • Always check the GoPro is recording on the correct mode with the best settings!
  • ShowMeMelbourne: Cool Warmth

    On the Port Melbourne waterfront you're never far from a few runners, skaters, dog walkers or palm trees. And at this time of day you're never far from a scene like this.

    Essential items: tripod, variable ND filter.

    ShowMeMelbourne is a photo project that aims to capture the wonder and beauty of one of Australia's most vibrant and attractive destinations from the perspective of a newbie local. Keep checking back each week for more!

  • ShowMeMelbourne: Starsplosion!

    There are three large observation wheels around the world at present, providing some of the best views of their surrounding cities. A lot like its London and Singapore equivalents, here is the Melbourne Star.

    The Star is completely covered in lights that change colour in impressive sequences, visible from miles away. I decided to make best use of this I would align the centre of the frame with the centre of the wheel then, during a long exposure to zoom from wide to telephoto, creating this explosion of light.

    ShowMeMelbourne is a photo project that aims to capture the wonder and beauty of one of Australia's most vibrant and attractive destinations from the perspective of a newbie local. Keep checking back each week for more!