I have been flying a lot in the Saddle over the last few months. It helps that I can simply leave for work early, stop off and blow through some drone batteries, before heading on to Hale Pohaku where I meet the rest of the crew for a day on the summit. The process can be reversed on the way back down the mauna in the evening after work.
On these short days late in the year this means flying right at dawn and sunset, creating very dramatic light. The rich colors are simply great for photography of this beautiful area of lava flows and cinder cones.
What makes the are even more spectacular is the cloud layer. As you drive up the mauna you pass through the clouds. I love to stop and fly right at the top of the cloud layer, where the fog lays in against the mountain. I am sorely disappointed on those mornings that the fog is not there!
The result of these flights is lot of great video, I just need to put something together to share it.
Of course a good video needs great music. I am indebted to Chris Stark, a local artist who graciously allowed me to use his track Dancing in the Rain as the backdrop for the video. I encourage you to head over to his website ChrisStark.com to check out his albums.
Chasing Fogbows from Andrew Cooper on Vimeo
Flying the Drone
Mauna Kea Morning Air
Kiholo by Drone
Inside Passage… One Last Time
OK, you can stop asking for the new Inside Passage video… It is done!
It has bears! Whales! Sea lions! Grizzly bears! Aurora! Lots of drone footage! More bears!
Actually the video came together pretty well. I already had a piece of music picked out, that saved a great deal of trouble. Nearly four weeks on the water meant a great deal of photographic material to work with. As usual the Inside Passage provided plenty of photographic opportunity, particularly the first week when is seemed like even the wildlife was performing on cue.
And there were lots of bears…
The Mavic Air Panorama Modes
One of the most useful features of the Mavic Air are the built in panorama modes. These are pre-programmed maneuvers, like the quick-shots, that take a series of exposures to stitch into a single frame.
The panorama feature was offered in earlier models like the Mavic Pro, the difference in the Air is that the stitching is done on-board, ready to download from the SD card as a finished product at the end of the flight, no need to process in the DJI software.
There are two panorama modes I find myself using regularly. The spherical and horizontal modes both offer a view from the drone that overcomes the limitations of the camera.
Learning to Fly
Learning to fly the Mavic Air has been a pleasure, and actually much easier than I feared.
The purchase of a drone was a bit of leap, one I had been considering for quite some time. When you realize where I will be over the next month the time was now.
Our annual boating trip into the wilds of Alaska and British Columbia offers stunning photographic opportunities for a drone. Not that the island of Hawaii does not offer a great place to learn.
Now or never! So I put down the money and bought the aircraft.
With drone in hand I need to learn to fly it. I need practice to achieve the level of competency I feel is required. I have had a month to practice, a month I have made good use of. Regularly flying and logging quite a few discharged batteries each week.
I am taking learning to fly seriously.
To watch a thousand dollar drone disappear into the sky takes a leap of faith. Faith in the technology and faith in your own skill to pilot the drone back to the launch site. Any number of times I have piloted it far enough away that the drone itself is lost to view, even though I have a clear view of where it is. It is always reassuring to hear the buzzing grow louder and have this little aircraft reappear as it returns.
The Mavic Air
OK, so I bought a drone.
I have been flying the aircraft for over a month now, logging hours of flight time, and discharging plenty of batteries. I have practiced launch and recovery, navigation, hand catching the drone, and taken some great photos.
Describing the Mavic Air is simple… Impressive.
This is not a review, I am making no effort to list through all of the features and faults of the aircraft. What follows is more my impressions of the drone, a few things I have encountered while learning to use it.
The issue here is that I am completely new to flying a drone, the Mavic Air my first real drone, not considering the cheap $20 toy quadcopter I played with a bit to learn. I have had to learn everything from scratch. It also means I come at this little aircraft with fresh eyes having nothing to compare it with.