Crafting Aerial Drone Photos

Lesson 1 of 7

Making Beautiful Aerial Photos

 

Crafting Aerial Drone Photos

Lesson 1 of 7

Making Beautiful Aerial Photos

 

Lesson Info

Making Beautiful Aerial Photos

What I'm gonna show you here is a little video which shows a little bit of stuff that I'm doing and this is a little more interesting than just flying from a roof. You know, because we've got some beaches and interesting things here, so I'm just going to play this right now. I know there's a full screen button there. I want to go full screen. There we go. And here we go. (drone blades buzzing) Crazy people, man, these guys. Crazy people, crazy people. Now remember, safety first. (triumphant orchestra music) (electronic dance music) Alright, so that's a little bit with the drones. I figure it's easier just to show you what I can do with it. It also makes it a little bit more interesting. People are always like, does that thing got a camera on it? So, anyway, that's just a trailer of video we have on Photoshop Cafe. Those are essentially what I'm flying and that's what we're going to be looking at is the images that these little Phantoms, so, as you probably saw there's a little DJI Phan...

tom quad copter and they go from anywhere between $500 for a basic one, to a couple of grand when they're fully loaded with FPV and all that kind of stuff on there. So what we're really talking about today though is not necessarily flying them, but how to create great photographs with them and how to process those. So we're going to be looking at panoramas, we're going to be looking at some different stuff. In fact, I've got a few examples here of some images. Obviously, I just showed you the video there. We're not covering video today. Let me get in here. And also I've got to do a shout out too, because I've got some friends online watching right now from the Southern California group, our Flight Club. Hey guys, Laria, Aldren. So they're watching right now. Let me show you some images, here. I've just got a few I'm just going to quickly rush through. What is it that got me into this is I am just really excited about the ability to take a camera anywhere, and that's really what this is about. It's about a flying tripod. As it is with regular cameras, we can take photographs, but that is something I want to call it terrestrial photography. That's what everyone else is doing. This is not extra terrestrial (laughing) but you're not stuck on the ground. So what you're able to do is move your camera in three dimensions. Right now, typically as a photographer, you've got two dimensions. You get to go backwards and forwards on the Z-axis, you get to go side to side on the X-axis and I can use these terms because you just watched Paul Tranny talk about 3D, but you're very limited on the Y-axis. Maybe you get a little stepladder or something like that and you know as a photographer, you stand up on a stepladder or climb up on a table, it's like man this is extreme, we've got this extreme angle. Or you have the worm's eye view. Get down on the ground, like uh-oh, that's extreme. But, suddenly when you put on a quad copter now we're talking extreme because we can move our camera absolutely anywhere. We can go up to a legal height of 400 feet. And honestly, there's not much to see at 400 feet. All the good stuff happens low. But what's exciting about it is not just the fact I can change my angle and when you talk about composition, it's a whole new thing in composition now. Because you look at buildings and objects that go up and now you've got intersections with the horizon and different things like that. You can literally compose a photograph using height and imagine what you can do with silhouettes and stuff like that. It's really powerful. Also we can move a camera over objects that we couldn't go before. Now I can out over water and get a view that I couldn't quite get. Or you're on the edge of a cliff, like we just did a shoot recently, and we've got this poor model on the edge of a 400 foot cliff, (laughing) and you couldn't get a shot from the other side but with the drone, you just fly out over that cliff and now you've got a different angle that would just be impossible. You couldn't do that with a helicopter because it'd be illegal to fly that helicopter so low and so close to a person. I mean, you couldn't do that. One thing is just freedom. We have freedom to do whatever we want with a camera. And then the other thing that's exciting is now because of that freedom, we can take photographs that no one has ever seen before. Everything's been done, except for this. Not yet, give it time and everything will be done. (laughing) But right now, you're actually able to take a photograph from a unique view that no one has ever seen before. You've got the wow factor in there. Now, you can't ride the wow factor forever. That's good at first, but you also want to use good rules. When I first started flying, everything was exciting at 400 feet and I was like wow, I can see the ocean from here. And then that got old, and then I started realizing it comes back to the same things in photography. Good lighting, good composition, getting in the right angle, all these things still apply. Anyway, I'm just going to show you a few pictures. This one here is a hangar. One of the things I like to do, as I mentioned, is I am all about low flying objects. And here I'm flying very close to the surface of the water. I have friends of mine freak out when I do this. They're like, pull up, pull up, pull up. I like to fly low because I'm looking for the angle, I'm looking for the composition. It doesn't have to be, oh look at me, I've got a drone, I'm up in the air. In fact, some of my best drone photos don't even look like they were shot from a drone. I just didn't have to get my feet wet. Obviously, we do stuff like this when I do go up high. We'll be looking at some of these. This is Balboa Peninsula. This is just a great, I was actually standing on the island and flying during the sunrise. We'll look at some pictures from that, earlier on. This is another one. This is Balboa Island, this is looking back the other way. And these are panoramas. It's a little weird, but I wanted to do this because this is the entire Newport. So this is the Newport, Balboa Island, and Peninsula. Any of you from around the area, you know the area? So I decided why not do this, all of this, in one photograph, because no one has ever seen that before. No one has seen the entire Peninsula and Island in one photo like this. It looks a little odd, but I think it's kind of cool because it's different. It's a 360 degree panorama. Obviously, we can start to apply some, I'm going to make this a little bigger too, it looks better. There we go. Also apply some adjustments and stuff and start to create art out of it so it's not just up in the air. There we go that looks better. I'll make this even bigger. I should be doing a slide show in Bridge or something, but oh well. Once again, here's this island. I love this spot. This is the same spot, actually the same day, the same shoot, and I decided to do a little bit of a vintage toning to it. The cameras on these are not amazing cameras like you would get if you were used to shooting with a 5D or something like that. You've got the big sensor and the big lens. You don't, you have a little lens, you have a little sensor. It's 14 mega pixels, can shoot in raw the one I have. It's decent but you've got to learn how to process and get the most out of the photograph that you have. Here's another one here. You can see LA in the distance, Echo Park. San Francisco. I shot this one a long time ago before there was a no-fly in a certain area. It was quite legal when I did this. Thought I'd mention that. This was recently, a buddy of mine, Jeff Foster, who also flies, I'm actually really fortunate to be friends with a lot of these people. There's a group of us that have kind of been doing this for a couple of years. We've learned from each other. I've learned a lot from them, and we share with each other. The person that got me into this in the first place was Russell Brown, so a couple of years ago, he asked me to teach a class with him at Photoshop World. It was a drone workshop. It was probably the first drone workshop that's ever been done. He asked me to teach it with him and I knew nothing about drones at that time, so that kind of made me go out and get one and start learning and then I just fell in love with it. I'm out there almost every day flying now, because as a kid, if I had one superpower, it wasn't invisibility, it wasn't super speed. The one superpower I always wanted was flight. So now I can vicariously live through my drone. It's pretty cool because I've got the Vision +, the Phantom Vision + I can look at on my phone here. I've got a controller that you saw on the video, but on here I can see what it's seeing so I get an FPV, First Person View. I also have another one, I have six of them right now. I have another one which is with the GoPro on it, and then I have a Black Pearl monitor with a couple of antennas on it, so bigger monitor. And I can also see what's happening on there, through my drone. So that's the thing, is FPV, First Person View, you can literally look through it and see what the camera is seeing, which is great because if you want to take photographs and you want to get composition, you need to see through, you can't just spray and pray and hope that you get a good photo. So this at Hercules. This is another shot here where I could've just walked down there and stood on the shore there and taken a picture with my camera, but that would've meant walking, so I flew down there and I did this. I'm kind of joking, because what I was able to do is I'm slightly over the water. I would have needed a step ladder to get that height and I was able to move backwards and forwards because I saw that bird there, I saw the post and also I wanted to compose that, because at eye level, see that bird there on that post? Let me put my thing there. At eye level, that was breaking into the horizon, so it was getting lost. So I was able to change height and actually compose in height, that part of the photograph, exactly where I wanted it, and that's just something you couldn't do before. This is a hot air balloon from above. You can tell because of the shadow, there. See you can tell it's a balloon. Oh, it's kind of funny, everyone jokes about this because they think, Oh hey dude, you've got transparent pixels. Like here. It's not transparency, that's actually on the concrete. You use Photoshop so much, every time you see a checkerboard you think it's transparent. (laughing) So moving along, Griffith Observatory. This was crazy, I put this thing online on Google Plus. I had like almost no engagement on Google Plus. I put this on, I get a million views overnight. I kid you not. A million views on this, and then within three days, two million views. So people are interested in this stuff, they're very interested. This is a shot, still frame from a video, using the GoPro. This is Huntington Pier. LA, we're actually going to look at this one as one of our examples. This is kind of a fun example I want to kind of stop and talk about this. I just love this because you see the freeway here, and you've got all these on ramps creating this great, really interesting, what's the word I'm looking for? Web, not a web, but just anyway, this interesting kind of concoction of all these on ramps and it's really interesting. If you look at the shot here, I'm not shooting at ground level, and I'm not shooting from the air above the buildings, I'm actually in the middle. So, I'm able to get a viewpoint that you couldn't really get, I mean maybe if there was a big skyscraper on the other side and I was hanging out that building I might be able to get that shot. But in this case there aren't any high buildings on that side at that height. To be able to just do this with the drone and it's a panorama, so I shot I think this is like four or five images. So literally, what I do is I'll put it up in the air, I'll take a photograph, and then I'll rotate, take another photograph, rotate, take another photograph, and that how you build a panorama. And we're going to look at that and we're also going to look at creating a panorama from video. I'm going to show you how to do that too, which is this one here. This one here is Balboa Island on a different day, and I did this from video. So I was able to stitch together in panorama. And these things print out big. One of my buddies, Eddie Murphy, at Epson prints these out for me at shows. So if you guys are at WPPI next week, you'll probably see them there at the Epson booth. He prints them out for me. When I do my presentations, I hold them up, and some of these are from here to that wall, so they print them on canvas rolls on the R2000 and now the P600, and they just look gorgeous, when you've just got these big, massive panoramas. There's just so much detail on there. And it's surprising the amount of detail you can get out of these tiny little cameras. And it's one thing to look at it here, but when you see it printed out big it's very breathtaking. Here's another shot that I didn't want to make it look like a drone. This is at Laguna Beach, sunrise. There is evidence that I got up early one morning. And once again I changed the altitude here for this reflection in the water. I wanted to catch that reflection from the light in a certain way. So I was able to change the altitude and get that reflection, because you know like the angle of incidence, you know when something bounces at 45 degrees, it's just like when you play pool. Doing photography and lighting is exactly the same as playing pool. So you just got to get the right angle to get that reflection. So I was able to do that, whereas if I was walking around I'd have to go backwards and forwards to get that and maybe I'd have to go back so far that my composition in the foreground would be messed up because I'd be too far away because that's the only way you could do it otherwise, right? But if you can go up and down, you've got just a whole different degree of composition. The exciting thing about that is, you know we're all learning, it's so new. They have like the big ones and stuff like that, but as far as accessible to everybody, it's only been just under a couple of years now, that we've been able to do that. So the rules are still being made as far as photography wise, we're still experimenting, it's a frontier, it's a wild west. That makes it exciting, because you can't go say, Oh look what Ansel Adams did with a drone. Or go back to some great photographer, because you know what, we are the Ansel Adams of today that are making those rules. It's exciting. So we can do that. Here's a little tiny planet and I'm going to show you how to do a tiny planet today as well. And last weekend, my friend Jeff Foster his daughter got married and he asked me to come and do a little shot there at the wedding. So this is where we're able to get after the wedding just standing in a park and it was kind of fun with the shadows. Looking at the shadow play there. And also, you know, hey, there's a dress from an angle that you probably don't usually see at a wedding.

Class Description

UAVs, drones, multi-rotors, and quadcopters are flying tripods capable of framing photos in three true dimensions. Learn how to work with the images they capture in Crafting Aerial Drone Photos with Colin Smith.

In this class, you will learn how to set up the perfect shot, and how to turn the images from a drone-mounted camera into a full-sized work of art. You’ll learn what it takes to bring an image from a small camera to life, and how to make aerial panoramas from multiple photographs and video.

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