Ten Tips To Help Improve Your Drone Photography

One of the coolest purchases that I have made for my photography is my drone. It really allowed me to see things in a new way. Sometimes you need a change in perspective to jump start you for a while. The drone certainly did that. Below I have listed ten quick tips to help you get off the ground with your drone. They are things that I found useful early on, and I still use today.

10. Stay safe and obey the laws – While drones are fun they are also potentially dangerous. Your first instinct may be to take your drone out and fly it without thinking about where you are. The first tip is to first stop and look at where you are flying. Can you even fly your drone there? I have come across places that I thought were in the middle of nowhere that actually are very near a small airport that I didn’t even know about. The laws are in place for a reason so make sure you know what they are, and obey them. The first bad drone crash will be the last one as they will probably all be banned.

9. Prepare your drone pre and post flight – This tip kind of goes hand in hand with the tip above. I put them at the top because I feel that they are the most important. Before flying somewhere new make sure that you props are in good shape and secure. Another important tip is to calibrate your drone. Not getting a proper calibration in can result in a flyaway or a crash. Before you have even left your house make sure that your batteries are all fully charged, and if possible you have a few backup batteries for the drone. One battery can give you a long flight, but multiple batteries can mean a fun day of flying. One quick post flight tip is that I always swap cards out. I take out the card that I used to make my images, and I immediately place a new card in the drone. This prevents you from getting out a ways with your drone and then realizing that you have forgotten a card. It also prevents the same scenario without having one on you. I have done both and it is not a fun feeling.

The Sun Sets Over the Purdue Bell Tower

8. Shoot in RAW – I always shoot in RAW, but with the drone I feel that it is even more important. The megapixels of your drone vary from model to model, but they are not fantastic in any model. You want the most data that you can get for your images in post. Shooting in RAW makes that happen.

7. Think of all of your post-processing tools while in flight – You have a lot of tools at your disposal in the digital darkroom now. Early on in my flying days I was not using everything available to me. One way to increase the quality of your image is to get a little closer to your subject and make a panoramic. With the steady nature of the DJI crafts it is very easy to do. A slightly more advanced move is to make what I call a vertirama. This is where you stitch a photo made from vertical pans. Combining these two styles can make for an interesting photo. Continue reading “10 Tips For Better Drone Photos”

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A Winter Day At The Michigan City Lighthouse

A while back I posted a few images from a fun day at the Michigan City Lighthouse. This was the first photo that I made on that day. I was walking up to the lighthouse, and I saw the way that the lines led you right to the lighthouse. This was a great spot to make this photo as it fulfills a big checkmark for a successful photo. You want to create a way for the eye to just flow around the photo. Here you have the catwalk leading you to the lighthouse, and the way the lighthouse is framed it leads you back to the catwalk. It is a simple concept, but I think that it works here.

Making the Cliche Photo

Sometimes when you are at a spot you make a photo that you know has to have been made before. This shot was made from the pedestrian sidewalk before walking out to the lighthouse. I made this photo as my first of the day. I knew that I liked the lines, but I felt that I had seen it before. Checking Google when I got home I saw that indeed this photo had been done before. Even with that said it is still good to make a photo when you see it. I didn’t release this photo right away for the cliche reason. Looking at the photo though I still like it so why not show it?

Flying Over Lake Michigan and the Ice Shelf

I lived next to Lake Michigan for many years of my life, and I never stopped to see the ice shelf that can develop. Saturday I was up north packing up some things in LaPorte, Indiana when I decided to take a break. I talk a little more about that in yesterday’s post. I had some ideas when I was walking up to the lighthouses, and as funny as it sounds none of them were what I ended up shooting. You can imagine the scene from the air, but you really have to fly to know what you are looking at. In a way it becomes improvisational photography which is pretty cool.

From The Ground

My brother went out with me to shoot, and while he was in the air with his drone I made a couple of pictures from the ground. Most of them were just for me to see the ice shelf. This one above though was one that I knew could turn into something cool. So many elements that are not normally in play here. I would have to be in a boat nearly hitting the rocks along the pier to get this shot. With the ice out there I could walk out to get it. The late afternoon light really gave me the color that this photo needed.

Over the Cliff

One thing that I wanted to try out was to fly over the ice shelf to show just how cool this thing is. The problem with that is the sense of scale is lost this way. This could be the length of a football field, or it could be me hovering just above the ground. This is where a boat coming by would have been amazing.

The Week In Photos

Last week was a fun week for me in a way. Although I finished the week a little under the weather I had a good week shooting. I was able to photograph some wildlife, sports, and then this cool location. If every week could be like that it would be perfect. I had another location lined up for Friday on my way to Indiana State, but that did not work out. I have the photography bug so when the conditions are right I think I can make some pretty cool editions of the Photos of the Week coming up. This is one of my favorites from the recent batch that I have made. You can see my weekly edition of my favorite photos by clicking here.

A Cool Flight Over Lake Michigan

Yesterday I was up in LaPorte as my parents are moving out of their house. I took a break from packing up boxes of my stuff to go out and make a photo. I was not feeling well yesterday so my shoot was cancelled. I was feeling the need to create. I still was not at 100%, but I had an idea for a photo. The photo above was not it. The ice that was around the lighthouse had moved out into the lake. The light was great though so I spent some time flying around the lighthouse.

The Shadow Rules

When I started flying I had some ideas of what I wanted to do. When I saw the shadow of the Lighthouse growing longer and longer I threw all of those ideas out of the window. The shadow was what was then driving my photos. I found a bunch of views that I liked, but right now this is my favorite photo from the day. I will have more tomorrow when I have had a little time to go through them all. Sometimes you just need to stop what you are doing and have a little fun.

Why We Celebrate

This season I have been posting quite a bit of things that mean Christmas to me. Obviously things like Santa, Christmas trees, and our Elf on the Shelf Nobow are all fun ways to celebrate the season. The real reason is to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. It is also a great time to spend with family. Hopefully you are having a great Christmas wherever you are.

Thank You

On days like today especially I think about all of the people that make this venture for me possible. Thank you all for your support and kind words throughout the year. This blog only exists because of the loyal readers. I hope that you have a great Christmas, and I look forward to what the new year will bring.

Driving Through the Washington Park Festival of Lights

Sometimes you get surprised by how cool something is. That happened last night. We were going to go out to dinner and my parents suggested going to see the light display by the lake. I was a little suspect of how cool it could be, but with the little one with us I went along with the plan. Of course the little one passed out about two minutes out from the lights so she never saw them. I quickly loved it and made many pictures. I even made a second pass through to get a different angle on a couple of the displays. We then went to dinner where the little one woke up, and then we made another trip just down the road to see the lights. She loved them as I knew she would.

The Best Time to Photograph Christmas Lights

This was not the best time to make photos of the Christmas lights. You really want to make your photos during the blue hour just after the sun sets. The light is much more even at that time which makes for a much better exposure. Had I known that we were going to make that trip I would have left much earlier to photograph the sunset at the lighthouse, and then make the trip through the lights. As you can see in the photo above the first photo I made had a very cool sky above it. The light display then turned away from the good light, and by the time we made our way back around the sky was black. A blue sky makes for a great background for the lights.

More Photos From the Night

I haven’t dumped a bunch of photos on here in a while. That was so much fun though that I thought I would share all of the photos from the night. They are a little small, but if you click on each photo it will open up much larger for you.



Continue reading “The Washington Park Festival Of Lights”

My Favorite Sixteen Photos From 2016

Each year I get another year older, but I get to add a photo to my year end countdowns. It is hard enough to cut photos down to sixteen for my break out categories. To get a list of the sixteen photos that I like the most from 2016 overall is nearly impossible. I decided to go with the photos that I remembered the most, and had a special meaning for me. You can view more of my favorites from the year by clicking here to see my Exposure page. Below are sixteen photos that I believe tell a story about what a fun year this past year was.

16. The countdown starts with a photo before the LaPorte Slicers took on Michigan City for the Duneland Athletic Conference title. Many years ago I played for the Slicers, and it was fun to get back and photograph one of their games. It was even more fun to see them win the conference up close and personal.

Fireworks over Lafayette

15. This year on the Fourth of July I tried to get as high as I could over Lafayette to shoot the fireworks over the city. I set up my camera and listened to some good music as I waited for the fireworks to start. One thing that I like about this photo is the large amount of fireworks from other towns and people in the background. Next year I would like to take my drone up to see what I can do on the 4th.

14. One city that I have seen many pictures of is Austin, Texas. This year I was able to visit the city, but I spent most of my time at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. I did not have time to do the normal sightseeing. One photo that I was able to make that I think sums up the city right now is the one above. The city is growing rapidly. There are new buildings going up everywhere. Here was a view from the building I was staying in downtown.

13. Our trip to Boston this fall was one that let me cross a couple of items off of my long standing travel list. I have been wanting to visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum for quite some time. I know that by reading this blog you know that I am obsessed with sports and photography. I also love learning about the Presidents of the United States. They all have a unique story, and they all end up holding the highest office in the land. Kennedy was one President that I heard a lot about growing up, and it was great to get to visit his library.

12. Speaking of crossing some items off of the bucket list this was a great moment for me. After photographing my first NASCAR race at the track where I watched my first race I was getting in position to photograph victory lane. I looked up and saw my two favorite drivers running side by side coming right at me. Both racers were competing in their last race at the Brickyard, and I was very lucky to get a chance to see them race. It is not the most technically brilliant photo that I made last year, but it was one of those moments that you are thankful for.

11. Each year I make portraits of the Lafayette Brawlin’ Dolls for their program. My job is very simple that day. I point the camera at them, and let their personalities come out. It is a highlight of the year for me as I can make some great photos. This was one of those moments that you would consider an outtake, but it becomes one of my favorites.  Continue reading “My 16 Top Photos of 2016”

My Sixteen Favorite Football Photos of 2016

This past football season went by far too quickly. Football is the only sport that I cover that I really played at an organized level. This year it seems as if something was always coming in between me and the sport that I love. I was able to photograph a couple of awesome games, and next year I have a road trip to Knoxville planned that I am really looking forward to. There were some great moments this past season though, and I have picked sixteen of them to post here. As I write this I realize that I compiled the list about a week and a half ago, and I have already changed my mind about the placement of some of the photos. In all reality the numbers do not matter here. These are sixteen photos that I really liked from this season, and for the sake of a countdown I have assigned numbers to them. Here are my favorite sixteen photos in numerical, but no particular order.

16. As I compiled this list I realized that many of the images came from the Indiana State game at Minnesota. I think that the access I was given made it a special game for me. It was real fun finding ways to show the gameday experience. When you are with a team your job is to show the audience something that they cannot see. I took my job at that time to show the people looking at the photos a lot of what they could not see behind the scenes. This is what makes photography fun for me. Indiana State gives me a great opportunity to do that.

15. Here in West Lafayette we have a lot of good football teams very close by. The closest to me the West Lafayette Red Devils. I usually try to make my way down the street a few times to see them play during the season, but this year the only game that I could make was half of an early season game. That is too bad as it is fun to watch football under the Friday night lights. This coming season Purdue will have an early game on Friday night under the lights.

14. This year I was able to meet an online friend who like me went from shooting from the stands to shooting on the field. It was cool to catch up with him in person. While we were doing that the team he was covering, Iowa, scored right in front of us. I made this photo of the celebration after the touchdown. I love these types of photos, and even if it was for the wrong team at the time I made it.

13. This was a moment that was a lucky one for me to capture. I was switching ends of the field with my 300mm when a big play happened. I was out of my normal position, but right in position to make this photo. This was a lucky capture, but when the moment happened I made the most of it.

12. This story has a funny ending to it. I made the photo of the coin toss as ISU took on Minnesota. As the team photographer that is my right. Into the first quarter I had someone with a security jacket on tap my shoulder and ask me to walk with them. Play was going on, and my team was driving toward me so I asked them what was going on. They explained that I had to leave for making this photo. I explained that I was the ISU team photographer, and everything was okay. I like this moment though. The day was made better by the blue skies that seemed to match the colors of the Indiana State uniforms.  Continue reading “Top 16 Football Photos of 2016”

Watching the LaPorte Slicers Play Football Again

The last time that I was able to see the LaPorte Slicers play was when they were in the State Championship game two years ago. I had a lot of fun seeing the orange and black play, and I made it a point to get out and see them play again. Well here it is nearly two years later, and I finally was able to see them play again. This game felt just as big as that title game did. The Slicers were 7-0 coming into the game and rival Michigan City was 6-1. It was homecoming for City, and LaPorte just needed a win to take the Duneland Athletic Conference crown. At one point it seemed like they were on their way to an easy victory. They scored to go up 28-7, and Michigan City seemed to be melting down. One big run by Michigan City changed all of that. The big mo was in their favor, and it took everything that LaPorte had to hang on and win 42-35. This was a great game between to very good teams. A game like this should come down to the wire. My heart would have liked the blowout, but you don’t always get what you need. The did get the W though, and I am sure the celebration carried over from Michigan City into LaPorte last night. This is a program on the rise.

My How Things Have Changed

Back when I played for LaPorte (before many of the kids playing yesterday and maybe some coaches were born), we didn’t go to State Title games and win the DAC. When I went to LaPorte baseball was king. Now it seems as if football has become the sports to watch at LaPorte. They had some really great athletes on the field last night, and I think that they have bigger things coming for them this season. As I was driving home I was going over my schedule for the next few weeks in my head. At some point I would love to get back to see this team play again. It may be a few Fridays away, but I want to make that happen.This is a new era of Slicer football, and I really enjoyed seeing it live.

More Photos From the Game

Last night I put together an Exposure page for the game that you can find here. That was a phenomenal game that