Flying over Farnham Park

The above video was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro, as I am editing this on a Surface Pro 4. I do also have a Mac which I use with Final Cut. I am kind of exploring both systems and both applications to see which is the most convenient. I shall form an opinion at some point for sure but I am quite amazed with the Surface Pro 4 and how fast it is. I am editing 4K video and unless I start adding various manipulations the video, it handles it all with aplomb.

I am a fan of Lightroom too….. Ok a little bit of an advert for Adobe tonight!

It’s video editing capabilities are limited but in  a way that makes sense because you can very easily jump across to your favourite video editor from within Lightroom. It works well for cataloguing video and for taking screen grabs from an original MP4 or MOV source file.

So here is a little explanation of all of this 🙂

Capture

Frame number 24 above is the original video and following on under 25-35 are a bunch of grabs that I took. I have created a little gallery below for you to enjoy 🙂

Field of gold

DJI_0021-1

The rape seed fields of Hampshire are progressing fast this year, the yellow flowers starting to fade, making way for the greener colours. I found a place to park up and a footpath to follow for a short distance. It is hard to envisage what the view would be like, because all I could see from my angle were the crops, about as tall as I am if not more so.

Once up in the air I could see the tracks left by the farmer and shot a short video. It was from this sequence that I ended up grabbing this image in Lightroom. I then edited it, adding a little bit of a graduated filter effect to the top of the frame to bring the sky back a bit more, to add some balance to the frame.

Then I decided that I should grab an abstract and from where (more or less) the previous  photo was captured, I switched the camera to look down towards the ground below. Expect to see more of this sort of thing from me, I love abstracts and to be able to zoom in or out from above is a thrill.

DJI_0022

It has been a gorgeous afternoon with temperatures nearly reaching 20 degrees Celsius and really feeling like Summer all of a sudden.

Talking of which…

We as a family do like to use rape seed oil in our cooking and there are a number of local producers who market their goods to many local farmers markets and even to the regional supermarkets. The demand for this crop is growing ever higher but I do wonder if we export it? I hope we do, as it is really nice stuff.

One of our favourite snacks is to get some nice bread, fill a couple of small ramekins with just enough rape seed oil and Balsamic Vinegar. Dip dip!! It goes in seconds but it is definitely one of those lovely comfort foods. It is very good for you too, well at least I think so!

Recommended Links

http://www.coldpressedoil.co.uk/

https://leckfordestate.co.uk/produce/rapeseed-oil – Ooh I should write more about this one, it is a great place to visit the whole year round

The curiosity of the general public

Whilst out flying yesterday capturing some video and photography, I initially seemed to be alone, not a soul around. However that wasn’t to be for long! I met a whole bunch of people with the space of 10 minutes, all of whom were fascinated by what I was doing.

The first people I met were a father, son and their two dogs. They were fascinated by the drone and asked lots of questions about it. I demonstrated some of it’s capabilities and showed them some images captured so far.

They left me to it and after capturing a series of photos from the air, I landed up and began packing the gear away into my shoulder bag. Then all of a sudden a party of people turned up, I think they may have been celebrating a birthday or anniversary, they were all smartly dressed but didn’t appear to be a wedding party or anything like that….

A lady of a certain age together with two other women asked me in a very eloquent tone of voice, that kind of voice people used to speak with back in the day, so I instantly guessed her to be a retired teacher, asked;

“Is that a drone? How wonderful, have you taken many pictures?”, she asked.

“Yes, I can show you on my phone”, I replied and promptly presented them with a preview of the footage, there right on the spot. They were in awe, I could tell, or maybe not, I am sure they have seen many amazing things over time.

“Where are you from?”, she then went on to ask

“Oh, not too far away but I went to the nearby school in the 80’s and have always been fascinated by this castle”, I replied.

“Oh”, one of the three ladies went as if in retort. (why do they do that?)

“How old is it?”, one of the other ladies asked.

“1700’s I think, it was built during the reign of King John and played a part in the story of the Magna Carta”, I chirpily replied.

NOTE: My knowledge of history is rubbish because it was actually built in the 13th century not the 18th, “a good 500 years out Mr Lewis, do see me after school.”

Anyway I pointed them in the direction of the information board and made a hasty retreat before they realised I was not a real historian!

Footnote

Despite all of the media stories of how bad drones are for the world and anyone who owns one is an evil narcissistic demon, that is total tosh. I have not yet met one person waving their fists at me in anger with ruddy faces, uttering curse words and threatening to call the Police…. nope not one yet.

Generally people are interested in the technology and I wholly wish to be a good PR representative for them!

King John’s Castle

Having watched one or two videos by my fellow photographers that featured Odiham Castle, I decided to hop in the car and visit the location myself. The closer I got to my destination as I drove into the gorgeous evening light, the more stormy it started to look in the distance as I cruised down the A287 from Farnham towards Odiham. I was conscious of the fact that I may be heading for a storm front, I knew it was too good to be true, an otherwise horrid week of torrential downpours had subsided and had led us all into a fanciful dream that Summer was back. I decided to press on nonetheless in the hope that if the heavens did open once again, it would probably be brief and the sun would pop out again. All photographers know that when that happens, you can sometimes witness an incredibly clear, crisp form of light.

Suffice to say, the rain didn’t arrive and as I pulled up near the Castle, the weather was actually looking like it was on the mend but I had lost the best of the light. Oh well, I shall make do, I decided and made my way down the canal towpath.

The walk isn’t at all far from the nearest parking spot and it is a lovely stroll. I highly recommend it for any time of year, as you get to appreciate Nature and all of her seasons. The Canal incidentally for those of you who don’t know the area is The Basingstoke Canal. We plan to shoot and film more along it’s entire stretch wherever we can in the years to come.

I decided that I will use my DJI Mavic more for photography than video, as photos tend to be quicker to edit and to share on the blog. I shall also collect up as much footage of a location as possible and to take my time over that. Film editing is a longer process, especially if I want to go a little more to town on it, adding music, cutting clips, recording voice overs etc. So I plan to share more video once I have enough to produce a series of mini documentaries. Got to be ambitious!!! Will I follow a theme? Yes, probably quite a few over the course of time and as I practice my flying/filming skills too!

DJI_0016

I joked over on Facebook that I had miniaturised the castle in order to take this photo. In many ways it does feel like I have or maybe I became a giant with a humongous tripod to match? Joking aside, the ability to position a camera anywhere in three dimensional space is still boggling my mind. It is so exciting and I have a head full of ideas for future entries on this blog. So much so, I think I have a firm theme for this site now, which I didn’t feel I had lost at some point in time whilst writing this blog…. I digress!

The DJI Mavic can shoot both RAW and JPEG at the same time. The photos on this page were all shot in DNG format and when I got home, I imported them into Lightroom. All I changed at this point were the white balance as that was off by a long way. I then applied a preset called “Punch” and finally some sharpness to make it look really crisp. The images off the camera were all shot with no sharpness or very little. So it is a very similar process to editing photos taken off my Nikon D7000. The cameras are of a very close resolution too.

The photo below was taken as a test but it clearly shows that on the DJI Mavic, you have the ability to focus and control your depth of field. It is one of the first to offer this and that is pretty incredible. The older drones all featured cameras that are single-focus (I think, correct me if I am wrong) and also suffered from fish-eye distortion. This lens is closer to something like a 50mm with an aperture of 2.8. This makes it a great drone for filing or shooting photography that is quite tight, you can fly through tight spaces using the amazing “Tripod Mode”

DJI_0007

So that pretty much wraps up today’s post, how about a video of Odiham Castle? That will come another time, I want to go back a few more times and shoot some more sequences over the seasons.

Last but not least

It was great to meet fellow bloggers Johann and Roberta Briffa last weekend in Guildford along with two other friends of theirs. The Briffas hail from the sunny island of Malta and regular visitors to this blog, yes there are many of you (joke!) will know Tina and I love the Maltese islands and the people. We look forward to catching up with you Johann and Roberta the next time we visit Malta or when you come back to visit the UK!

Please do check out their blogs, they write frequently, more so than I do and I enjoy every post they share.

https://jabriffa.wordpress.com/

https://chorizoandthyme.wordpress.com/

Roberta, you asked me to blog more, hope this is a good start? 😉

Spotlight: Odiham Castle, Icarus Imaging

Every now and then, maybe once a week, I am going to pick out a great video that I have discovered on YouTube or Vimeo and share it here on my blog.

This week I am going to give a shout-out for Icarus Imaging and a video they made of Odiham Castle because I came across this when I was looking to find videos of locations I plan to film at some point. Plenty of people have already shot footage around Odiham Castle but I thought this one was the slickest of those that I found.

Flight: Waverley Abbey

Waverley Abbey is one of our favourite places and it is not far from where we live, just a 20 minute drive approximately. It is popular with people looking for peace and quiet, inspiration, therefore very popular with artists in the summer months when the meadow grass is left to grow longer.

We had it to ourselves on a cool April evening and the light was pretty good, so the contrasts weren’t too severe for photography or filming. It was also an ideal opportunity to get to shoot some aerial footage with the new Mavic Pro – yes, I apologise for mentioning it again and no I am not sponsored by it’s manufacturer DJI either as one of my friends over on Facebook was suggesting 😉

A drone is no different to any other form of camera, it takes practice to get the shots that you can work with to make a short film like this. You also need to consider the music choice too. I started off with an assembly of clips taken from the original footage that totalled 7 minutes and I needed to cut that down by 50% to match Elgar’s Nimrod. It was more by luck rather than judgement that I cut it to size. I never think about the music at the time of recording, that spark of inspiration comes later and in this instance I knew I wanted to use some classical music and the Enigma Variations always screams out “Great Brtain”, our green pastures and all of that sort of thing.

Visual effects- I only use video transitions at the start and finish rather than between each scene, I quite like my videos to be a little bit punchy even when not exactly matching the action to the soundtrack. I find that some transitions can end up looking a bit cliche, just for the sake of using them. I had some fun at one point playing with some news style animated titles taken from After Effects and importing them into Premiere Pro but that too just looked cliched, so I settled for the more understated titles. Why does this all matter? I am trying to come up with a style for my videos that I publish online, just for that professional look.

The Spinney

The following short film came to me in a moments inspiration whilst I was out researching a location for both filming and photographing. The light was bursting through the trees in this small woodland “Spinney” and it struck me how beautiful it was.

This kind of shot would traditionally have been created with a camera mounted on some kind of mechanical pulley or rail system. No need for that when you can use a drone. I set my Mavic up to use “Tripod mode” which changes the behaviour of the drone when you fly in a sideways direction to operate at a very steady speed, providing the operator with more control over the smoothness of the resulting video.

I also turned off sharpening in the recording, favouring doing that in post-production. I am liking the D-Cinelike mode which provides for a greater lattitude when editing later.