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 ­čśë

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.


Travelling light with the DJI Mavic

The DJI Mavic is a beauty in terms of capabilities and design but the craziest thing is that it squeezes down into a small form-factor, so small it fits into a bag that is the size of a D-Slr camera. I am quite excited at the prospects of where I can take this quadcopter. Carry on luggage here we come. 

It is one of the reasons why I chose to buy it rather than another Phantom. I can grab it on the way out of the house and off we go exploring the local countryside of Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire, Dorset which are the most accessible places for us. 

I’m planning to take it to Wales and Corfu later this year. Wales is no more than a month off from now and I’m already envisaging aerial shots of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path and lifeboat stations with the camera sweeping around them to reveal a jaw-dropping landscape just behind the main subject. 

I have to admit I get quite excited every time I see a drone shot on the TV and find myself trying to work out how the pilot gets such smooth shots. 

I am editing 3 videos at the moment to share in subsequent posts and then after that I will start a series of articles on some of our favourite locations around our part of the world. 

This blog originally started off as being a site about photography and finally I feel like I’m getting it back on track. 

Here are a few shots of what the Mavic drone looks like….

Drone Code

One or two of my readers were curious to know what the rules are for flying drones, especially over urban or built up areas. Here is the most recent document that has been issued by the CAA, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority.

I carry a copy of this with me in my bag, so if anyone asks me whilst I am out flying, I can inform them of the rules. I have been fortunate so far not to have had a single problem with the public other than just curiosity.

One question I had was regarding can you fly over built up areas? Well, sort of and my interpretation is that over property or people, you should observe a distance of 50m all around, to the sides and up above. Then over built up areas you can fly a certain distance away but not over the top.

I also found this article quite useful: http://www.aerialdroneimages.co.uk/caa-update-drone-code/Dronecode-page-001.jpg


Aerial Photography

I have recently bought a new drone, the third I’ve owned in fact and this time I have gone for DJI’s Mavic Pro and wow what a fabulous piece of technology it is. It has now been for 3 flights and I am blown away by it. So many capabilities and lots os features to try out and thank goodness for another long weekend coming up!

It shoots fantastic video at 4k and below but the camera is a 12MP affair which captures great stills too. Here are two that I took, albeit not from any great height just yet but I was getting used to the controls and it’s characteristics.

The location in the first photo is Frensham and in the distance you can see the “Little Pond” which is actually not that small.


I was also drawn to this old ghostly looking tree…


I guess you could call it a “petrified” tree? It may have been struck by lightning or fallen victim to one of the heathland fires that has occured at this location.

Frensham is quite popular for film making. It wasn’t all that long ago, I walked into a film set and began to wonder why I hadn’t been ushered away by security but they were in fact packing up and didn’t mind me in the slightest. The Hollywood stars had left the day before for California no doubt. The film was “The Huntsman”, so quite a big blockbuster. I heard the other day they are filming the latest Jurassic Park just outside Farnborough right now…. shan’t risk flying the drone over that, I may regret doing so!!

April 25th 2017

Nearly the end of April and so much has been going on that I thought it would be good to write a diary entry style post. The picture above was taken from where I’m sitting. It’s a cool day but very sunny and pleasant nonetheless. Listening to a Chiffchaff singing in a nearby tree and the wind rustling reeds. I could be sat in the middle of Surrey. I am but I’m in the grounds of Exxon’s UK Headquarters just a mile or so away from Leatherhead. The company I work for share office space with Exxon and my contract has been extended till end of July. They have massive grounds and their own nature reserve. Quite often see woodpeckers and Heron here.