Tag Archives: Photography

Significant Advances in the Consumer Drone Market

Lately I’ve been so focused on mobile, apps, development, conferences, and more that I haven’t posted much besides IBM work news and projects.  Well, I’m taking a break for just a moment…

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, then you already know that I’m pretty much obsessed with “drones”.  It is by far the most fun and exciting recreation that I’ve taken up in a very long time. Not only are they fun to fly, but they get you into some amazing views that were previously inacessible, and have applications far beyond just taking pictures.  I’ve written how-tos for aerial photography and videography, taken tons of pictures for fun, and even shot some indoor footage for TV commercials.

I’m always following the news feeds, watching the advances in technology, watching prices drop, and am continually blown away by what the industry is offering.  The last week to ten days have been nothing short of amazing.

First let’s start with the latest from DJI, who announced the Phantom 3 –  a consumer drone with some very impressive specs and performance.

The Phantom 3  is an easy to fly copter that sports a 3-axis gimbal (camera stabilizer), up to 4K video footage, an integrated rectilinear (flat) lens camera, live HD first-person view, integrated iOS and Android apps, a vision positioning system (for stabilized indoor flights) and up to a 1.2 mile flight range.  All for a cost of under $1300 USD.  That’s one heck of a package, and officially makes my old Phantom look like a dinosaur.

3 Days later, 3D Robotics announced the Solo, a direct competitor to the Phantom. The Solo is also very impressive, and has already won an award for Best Drone at NAB in Las Vegas.

The Solo also has a 3-axis gimbal for stabilized footage, and is designed to work with GoPro cameras.  In fact, it is the only copter that integrates with the camera controller and can control the GoPro remotely. The Solo also has dual processors (one in the controller, one in the copter), HD first person view, and has an upgradeable system that can have new camera systems or payloads configured.  It doesn’t have an optical stabilization system built in, but that can be added to the expansion bay.  What really sets the Solo apart is the intelligent auto-pilot sytem that appears to make complex shots very easy. All of this with a price tag starting at $1000 USD.

I currently own DJI products, but this has gotten me seriously considering a purchase.

Both of these are small aircraft targeting consumers, but from the look of it they are definitely capable of high end applications.  Their small size make them extremely portable, and a potential add in many industries and use cases.  Larger copters are always available for larger scale applications.

Let’s not forget drones for the enterprise…  Last week Airware launched their drone operating system.  Business can now license their operating system for commercial applications and data collection.

Meanwhile, people everywhere still freak out over drones as a political debate, ignoring their utility and positive value. The rules for commercial use continue to shake out, but oh man, it’s an exciting time.

Salisbury Festival Time-lapse

Every year the town I live in has a weekend-long spring festival. There are rides for the kids, live music, beer, and lots of food. This year I have a great view overlooking the carnival area, so I decided to do a time-lapse video capturing all of the activity. The trucks pulled in before I got to the office on Thursday morning, but I managed to capture most of the set up, all the way until the trucks drove away on Sunday night.

I set up two GoPro cameras. One was a stock GoPro Hero 3+ Black edition capturing 7MP narrow FOV stills every 60 seconds. The other was a GoPro Hero 3 Black with a “flat” lens capturing 5MP stills every 60 seconds. Unfortunately the 3+ stopped recording after about 24 hours – I’m not sure if the camera over heated, had a bug in the firmware (I realized I’m 1 version back from the latest), or if my memory card had a corrupt sector. The image sequence for Thursday is from this camera. The backup camera kept running all 4 days and captured the entire festival.

Assembling this was simple – I imported the images as image sequences in Adobe Premiere, arranged them on the timeline, cut out the night sequences (there was almost no activity during them), added some transitions, titles, and color correction (contrast and saturation), then added some background music.  I added slow zooming and panning to each of the shots to add drama, which helped make things a lot more interesting.

Assembling A Panorama with Adobe Photoshop CC

I just put together a walkthrough of creating an aerial panorama from images captured with a GoPro camera and an RC helicopter over on Behance.  Check it out for full details.

Here’s the final panorama to whet your appetite:

Aerial Panorama
Aerial Panorama

High-res here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andytrice/13899593912/


Aerial Photography with a GoPro Camera and Adobe Creative Cloud tools

My second article on aerial imaging with a remote controlled helicopter is now live in the March 2014 issue of Adobe Inspire!  The first article focused on aerial videography and Adobe video tools. This time it’s all about aerial photography with a GoPro camera and DJI Phantom (and how to bring these images to life with Photoshop and Lightroom).

You can read it on the web or download the FREE digital publication version to learn more. I HIGHLY recommend the digital publication version, which was created with Adobe Digital Publishing Suite.


Be warned (AGAIN) – flying helicopters with cameras attached is highly addictive. You may easily become obsessed with the endless possibilities.

If you want to learn more, definitely do not miss the Top Gun Flight Training For Hobbyist Photographers workshop at the upcoming Photoshop World conference next month!

Here are just a few panoramic images I’ve captured over the last year with my copter. You can check out even more in my Flickr collection.

San Francisco at Sunrise
Richmond, VA at Sunrise
The Las Vegas Strip

To learn more you can read the full article online or download the FREE digital publication, and don’t forget to become a member of Creative Cloud to take advantage of all the creative tools that Adobe has to offer.

Believable Compositions & Creativity in Adobe Photoshop

What makes a great composition in Photoshop? Well, that all depends on what you’re trying to achieve and personal taste – I won’t even attempt to answer that.

What makes a composition believable? That one is a little bit easier… We’ve all seen bad Photoshop jobs – you know, those where colors are way off, lighting is terrible, or edges are left jagged and pixellated. For the most part, I’d attribute a believable Photoshop composition to having qualities that mimic realism. Consistent use of colors, none of those jagged edges, appropriate use of shadows and lighting, proper perspectives, and most importantly, attention to detail.

Not quite sure what I mean? Check out these examples of some inspiring and impressive Photoshop compositions…

“Drifting Away” by Erik Johansson

“Immortal” by Alex Koshelov

“Kings Landing” via Creative Station

Want more samples and inspiration, just search for Photoshop Speed Art on YouTube, and there is a plethora of content to get your creativity flowing.

Want to create these for yourself?

Just become a member of Adobe Creative Cloud - you’ll have everything you need. Then check out the Photoshop learning center to learn how to make the most of the creative tools.