Drone Photography and Aerial

Q: Where are you from? Where do you live now?

A: I grew up out in the country in Northern California, about three hours north of San Francisco. I moved to San Luis Obispo for university, and now I live in Morro Bay, California.

Q: What is your full-time profession?

A: I am a construction inspector during the day, wanna-be photographer at sunrise & sunset.

Q: How long have you been involved in photography?

A: Kind of my whole life. Starting back with 110 film as a kid, though I didn’t get serious and graduate to an SLR until around 10 years ago.

Q: How did you get into photography? Tell us the whole story.

A: My dad (@vidimages) has always been into photography and video production since before I was born, exposing me to the process for as long as I can remember. I always had the interest but never really started exploring the world of photography until I moved to San Luis Obispo. I got my first point-and-shoot digital camera back around 2003 and I’ve been snapping consistently ever since.

Q: How did using drones change your photography?

A: It reenergized my passion and excitement for photography/videography as well as provided another tool to keep it fun and new. While I can’t compare my aerial camera to my DSLR, I often describe my drone as a 400-foot tripod. If you want that angle, you can get that angle and that is an amazing feeling to have.

Q: What informs your decision of when to use a drone for adding light to an image vs. When you use a drone to create your perspective?

A: Mostly, time-of-day. While Lume Cubes are potent light sources, I have found that they can’t be effectively used for aerial lighting during the day. They really shine once the sun goes down.

Drone Photography and Light Painting

Q: Do you have any advice for someone just starting out in landscape photography or aerial photography?

A: My advice is the same regardless of the type of photography, or activity for that matter…

- Keep it fun – If it’s not fun, why are you doing it?
- Put the time in to practice – There is a sunrise and sunset every day. Get out there.
- Learn everything you can – You have access to every photo tip and technique in that phone of yours, but trust your gut.
- Treat your camera like a tool – Yes, try and keep it clean, but remember, you have it to take pictures. Change that lens in the wind! I’d rather be photoshopping dirt out of an awesome picture that coming home skunked.
- Be respectful, especially with drones. This includes other people, animals, and sensitive areas. I don’t hover and fly where people can see or hear me because I don’t want to take away from their experience.

      Q: What was the hardest thing to overcome when working with drones for lighting?

      A: Slowing down. It is easy to rush and get caught up in the moment trying to get the shot when you know the batteries are only going to last for so long. Establish a hover, take a breath, and go make magic.

      Q: What do you look for or gives you cues that it'll be a good location to add light to the scene with a drone?

      A: Honestly, I think aerial lighting can be a good addition to almost any scene. It doesn’t matter if it is a waterfall, human, or flower; off-camera lighting is an amazing tool that can be used almost anywhere. While a location might seem good, if you are going to disturb a bunch of people in the process, it probably isn’t. If that is the case, I usually just come back when it isn’t as busy.

      Q: What's in your camera box right now?

      A: Too much… I shoot with a Canon 5DMII with optics from 14-400mm + 2x teleconverter, Really Right Stuff tripod, SPL water housing, GoPro Hero 6 Black, DJI Phantom 4, DJI OSMO Pro, Zoom audio recorder, Ricoh Theta 360, and of course my Lume Cubes.

      Q: What's your favorite quote?

      A: “You’ve spent an infinity years not being born yet & you will spend another infinity years being dead. Finish your cereal and go outside.” – K. Steele

      Q: What do Lume Cubes let you do either with your aerial you weren't able to do previously?

      A: Lume Cubes provide a whole new function to your existing drone. Instead of the drone being an independent tool in your photography kit, it bridges the equipment gap and making it a powerful accessory to enhance your other gear, giving you access to a whole new style of shooting.

      Q: Can you describe how you made your favorite image with Lume Cube?

      A: I wish I had a great story about a vision, how I studied the weather and star positions to perfectly line up the shot, but I don’t. I’m a very spontaneous photographer and my shots just tend to happen.

      My favorite Lume Cube shot was made on a fun but intense photo mission up into Southern Oregon. No plans, no reservations, just a loaded rig and capable crew. We found ourselves alone at one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen and decided to set up camp. Once my drone camera was reduced to a noisy mess due to low-light, it was Lume Cube time. I lined up what I thought might look good and set the focus on my DSLR, mounted the Lume Cubes to the Phantom and took off. I captured multiple long exposures of each individual island being lit from above, never adjusting the focus or zoom. Once it got darker, I took another long exposure of the stars so I would have a good sky to hide the light trails left by the drone during the light painting. Using the power of Photoshop, I stacked all the images creating the effect you see here.

      Long Exposure and Drone Photography in California and Oregon

      Q: Any recommendations on how to get the most of some Lume Cubes while working with Drones?

      A: Be safe and take baby-steps. I can’t afford to be crashing drones by being risky. Because of that I usually err on the safe side and don’t get what I want the first couple times I try something. It can be frustrating but has worked for me in the long run. Don’t misconstrue that as being boring – just baby-steps to badassery.

      Q: Describe Lume Cube in 5 words or less.

      A: Peerless. Indispensable. Magical.