I am pleased to announce that I am running my creative workshop at the World of Drones Congress in Brisbane on the Wednesday 25th of September to book and learn more please visit the The World of Drones congress website
Location Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Exhibition Hall 1, Hospitality Suite
Date Wednesday 25 September 2019
Time 9:30am – 4:30pm
Feedback from drone ops I have trained in the UK:-
‘Firstly thank you very much for all your help. I thoroughly enjoyed the way you delivered the training. I also appreciate your patience and help! ” – Mark Pollard
“I am raring to get going now, I have a greater understanding of what drone settings are best for video.” Joolze Dymond , Professional sports Photographer.
“Thank you, I enjoyed the workshop very much and now I feel equipped to improve my showreel and video work all-round” Roy Morris, Aerial Aspect
“The Drone Training with Carys was invaluable, I enjoyed it that much that I went on to book a 121 session of training with her as well. I definitely left the training a lot more confidence”. Vicky Louise.
I am looking forward to meeting you all, I do hope you can attend
I have now been flying drones professionally for over four years. I am a camera operator and shooting producer/director for TV and I have flown drones for major TV companies including the BBC, ITV, Channel 5 and various independent production companies. I have appeared on BBC 5 Live, BBC News channels, Good Morning Britain and in The Guardian as a drone industry spokesperson and expert. The past 12 months I have become a public speaker and educator. So now I feel that this is the next move for me and for a while I have tried to find the right NQE to join.
I am very excited about joining The Aerial Academy and for many years have admired the company’s ethics and focus on delivering high-quality drone training, from experienced drone pilots to those starting out in the drone industry. I am looking forward to working alongside owners Jonathan Carter and Elliot Corke and working alongside the other instructors.
Part of the reason for running this course is to share my passion to encourage more women into becoming part of the drone industry. There is the potential for a level playing field for women in the drone industry, but also realise that some women may be intimidated being the only woman on a PFCO course – so we are launching a UK first PFCO women-only course. Starting this initiative with a limited one-off course which we expect to be in high demand. We have already have had a number of women book on the course.
It will be held on 13/14th May 2019 in the Manchester/Sheffield area.
Why we’re running a women-only course
Approximate figures suggest that women only make up 3% of the UAV industry – as a company we would love to see that rise and think that this course might be the answer.
For a long time it has been known that women are not joining the ranks of professional drone pilots. Studies are underway to understand why women are not becoming professional pilots, but in the meantime we hope that this course will be received as a positive move by the drone industry.
On this course you will get the usual high standard of support from The Aerial Academy with 12 month support and guidance after the course, Ops manual creation and a dedicated pro facebook group.
Looking forward to meeting those of you who are joining me in May
The PFCO course is for anyone who wants to use their drone commercially in the UK to gain insurance and be safe legal. Please note it is still the law not to fly your drone as additional skills on the side of a paid project. If you are gaining financially for any part of a shoot you must be legal. See my PFCO Link
Way back in November 2019 I was approached by The Photography Show after appearing in the Guardian to see if I would be interested in speaking at The Photography Show and The Video Show in Birmingham. Strange how that felt like a lifetime ago and here it is just around the corner. The organisers also asked if I would be a Women Who Photo ambassador.
The WomenWhoPhoto campaign aims to inspire and celebrate women who use a camera for stills and for video. There are many more who are speaking over the 4 days and it is not just the ambassadors. There are other women speakers across all the days but some of us have chosen to be featured.
The gender imbalance in the Photography, Video, Camera operators and of course Drone Pilot’s still exist and if we can highlight this and inspire others to take up the profession or as a hobby this would be amazing.
I have known for a while that I am heading to Switzerland in November to speak at Evolve Filmmakers retreat, I will be doing an introduction to using drones section. I am very excited. The aim of the retreat is increase your story telling skills and as well as increasing your confidence and also network with a wide variety of film makers from all over Europe and the UK. Carrying on from yesterday’s blog post I think it is really important that you don’t hold yourself back, invest in your training as a freelancer is really important.
My friend and colleague Emma Wilson has opened up two final places on her Evolve Videography Retreat in Switzerland – Two days of immersive learning and practical exercises and three nights of good food and great conversation in a five star spa hotel with like-minded female filmmakers, all expenses paid*
More reasons to book onto this FEMALE ONLY workshop, Evolve NOW:
1. BE INSPIRED and learn from an experienced and successful female wedding filmmaker and former BBC Trainer with guest appearances from Sharrone Califiore, Fiore Films and The Drone Lass (me)
2. THE CHANCE TO SHADOW Emma on a European destination wedding, expenses paid.
3. LEARN NOW, PAY LATER – payment available in instalments so you can BOOK now with a deposit and take advantage of this ‘once-a-year workshop’ and be ready for 2019
*Flights to Switzerland currently around £40.00 RTN
** this workshop is all about hands-on and fully immersive learning and only for those women ready to take their business to the next level
As you know I regularly welcome guest bloggers and writers to write reviews of new pieces of kit. This has taken a bit longer than I planned to post. This post is written by Janine Kilroe she has created images for the last 30 years, initially as an Editorial Advertising Photographer commissioned by many international blue chip companies and for the past 9 years she has focused on creating a truly unique one off style of hand painted fine art photography. Her work is available in galleries throughout the UK. We are honoured to have her write her thoughts for the blog as she has also exhibited her work at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and The Saatchi Gallery, London.
Over to Janine, for her first impressions of the DJI Mavic Air.
Why does a professional PFCO photographer videographer buy a Mavic Air?
I do a far bit of travelling abroad (images shot with the Mavic Air in Southern Spain) and taking my Phantom 4 Pro isn’t easy, its bulky and also heavy with the 5 batteries. I have not had any problems flying with it as carry on but each time I have been through security on the return leg home I have either been asked questions and had bag swabbed on one occasion. I have been waiting for a drone that was small enough but had a decent quality to its images and video. Hence my Mavic Air Combo purchase.
It’s so compact and light.The ease and speed of setting up to getting in the air. The ability to take other equipment as it takes up nowhere near as much space as the P4Pro carry on bag. Good quality 4 K images and video perfect for Vloging, Blogs and commercial jobs where the image does not have to be massively enlarged. Video Storage Bitrate 100mbps. The 3-axis gimbal is better protected tucked within its body rather than the Mavic Pro. I know I will be much more likely to take and use my Mavic Air with me tucked into a small rucksack for travel and those difficult to get to locations that needs a long walk in rather than the P4Pro.
Noisier than I expected but I’m sure DJI are on the case re quieter props.
No side sensors that nearly got me into trouble only because I’m used to having them on the P4Pro and had momentarily forgotten the Mavic Air doesn’t!
Having flown in cold weather 0 c with a wind of 15 mph I discovered flying into the wind the battery was short of power. When temperature rose the battery had plenty of power to fight the wind so be warned if trying to fly into the wind in cold temps. To be fair DJI do warn you about this but I was surprised at the actual effect it gave.
Regarding the shaking people were reporting at take off in cold conditions I personally didn’t experience this. It seems that DJI took this customer feedback on board and to my knowledge have sorted it out with the last Firmware update. So no longer a negative.
Shorter Battery life 20 mins not a deal breaker just makes you even more aware of planning your shot before take off to max the time available. I changed my default low battery warning from 20% to 30% (giving me 15 mins flight time) as the default at 20% just left 3 mins to return which in my book is simply not enough safety margin to allow for the unexpected etc.
Who is it for?
Anyone who wants a well made small light compact drone that produces a good quality image and video. Like anything the more experience you have with correct camera, video settings plus post processing the better your final images and video will be. This comes with practice and then more practice…….
My personal conclusions
As in life we cannot have everything and no the Mavic Air is not of course as good as my P4Pro I never expected it to be. The Mavic Pro has a bigger sensor but has the exposed gimbal and doesn’t have a Video Storage Bitrate of 100mbps. Plus is bigger. What I would like to see is a side-by-side comparison of the Mavic Pro and Mavic Air RAW images. Maybe a project for me to do?
So I’m I happy with the Mavic Air?
Yes very happy actually it literally “fits” the bill. Its small compact and fits into any bag. Interestingly when going through security at the airports as hand luggage no one was interested. It does the job with providing you don’t want to be producing massive images and you know what you are doing re camera video settings and how to get the best out of your images in Post Processing stage. It’s very quick and easy to assemble and get up in the air. I have used it with my iPhone which is fine but my tip would be to always turn your phone onto Airplane mode to stop distracting phone calls, notices etc. I however want to see as much as I can so have bought a mini iPad adapter holder to use. Yes it makes it a bit heavier but the good thing is there is flexibility to which viewing method you want to use. The other Tip is get yourself a decent set of Neutral Density filters they are essential I have Polar Pro ND filters for all my drones and Osmo Pro etc. You must be able to control your shutter speed and with the fixed aperture it’s even more essential.
Along with Becki Warner from Warner vision and Photographer Rebecca Douglas we have set up a female only UK based drone group. First of all I need you to share this far and wide as we want to create a nice friendly group of women who fly drones.
Because we need to connect to others like us who want to inspire others to take up flying drones. We are also looking at creating meet ups and further training opportunties.
Now I know that there has been a bit of a backlash from some of the facebook groups and forums that we posted this on. Why it is that women set up little tiny groups on their own? Don’t worry we are not men bashing, we like men as approximately half the population are men. Between us we have fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons so we are not against men. Sometimes when we ask a question we get ridiculed. I have seen it on forums where women ask a drone question and you get a few sarcastic replies all unfortunately by men as they are the majority. There are some very supportive men and they have helped me a lot. We thought we would information share, support each other as we work at our drone businesses. We haven’t ruled out the possibility of opening up the group at a later date.
Hell, I don’t even make my blog known on the UK forums, incase there is some kind of backlash and trolling. It’s not that I am super sensitive, I just don’t want to deal with what can be quite a toxic place. I know that there are a number of NQE trainers giving my blog out to help people and I am presuming some are men as the majority of people on the course are men, and they read what I have written. Yes as a collective all drone pilots professional and law abiding hobbyists it’s good to stick together, share info but unfortunately it doesn’t always feel that way.
There are what I call feminist men, like my Dad who told his little girls, girls can do anything they want, whilst showing us how diesel and petrol engines work and what the differences are. I have lived by that and to be honest when I was growing up in the late 90’s and early part of the noughties, I wasn’t aware of sexism. I just got on with it, perhaps I had a tougher skin. Perhaps I let this stuff wash over or perhaps I just wasn’t aware and I just have always carried on regardless in life.
However there has been a shift recently and I think its a lot to do with the fact that women have been making some ground up and this threatens some men. It makes the question what will happen to them, they think what work will they do? If half the work force were to be women in most professions would the men feel uncomfortable. So because of that then we have seen suppression and that means in all forms. It seems with lots of scandals coming to light that things have been going on behind closed doors. Many men and women knew about these scandals all were scared, men scared to speak out and stand up to it could jeopardise their careers and women the same. Some feeling the shame for not being strong, when actually they were being strong just by standing up all day and carrying on trying to carry the pain of what they have suffered. Yes, I am talking about the recent sex scandals.
Tuesday, was the 100th anniversary of some women getting the vote, parliament voted for it at 8pm on the 6th of February 1918, we the UK were at war. And it was only a small amount of women, you had to be over 30, own property or have been to university or be married. This meant 60% of women could not vote, including many of the women who worked in the war and whose jobs ended in peacetime.
It wasn’t for another 10 years that all women got the vote in the UK and they had to be over the age of 21. This is only 90 years ago. So that is very recent history, I do believe it is unfortunately in our female psyche for many reasons not to value ourselves. This journey had only just begun to give women more rights. It wasn’t until, 1956 that Civil service reforms in UK gave men and women who are teachers and have other government jobs the right to equal pay. We know we still have an issue with equal pay in this country. In Ireland, 1976, Irish women are finally able to own their own homes outright. Then as recent as 1982, women in the UK were allowed to spend their money in English pubs without being refused service. Yes you read that correctly 1982 and so before that you could be refused service in a pub just for being a woman. I find that extraordinary.
It was only 2017 that forward thinking Iceland as a country has made it illegal not to pay the sexes equal pay. They have been way ahead of the rest of the world for sometime. It can be argued that even if women get the same pay for job roles they still not earn the equivalent if they take time out to have children.
With all that recent history in the UK it is easy to see why women still are not equal. Not to value their skills, time and knowledge then under sell the work and services that they offer. If you find other supportive women from all walks of life lifting each other up (if you pardon the pun) why not create that group.
It is difficult for others in a majority to think of how others feel, think and behave. I am not in an ethnic minority and so I don’t know what challenges they face in getting work with in the media industry I work. I can think of the challenges I face as a woman in technology roles and then offer an empathetic understanding but I don’t know what it’s like as I am not young person from an ethnic background. That is why work forces in whatever industry should be diverse, you get a better balance of views and ways of working. We should all be respectful to each other and supportive. There are opportunties for all. Be envious or look at what others are achieving and use that to be inspired instead.
I am often asking for contributors for this blog to write about reviews, and I get lots of male volunteers and I give them space to write about their experiences, but why is it so very few women want to be featured?
They say if a woman is applying for a job she will read the job description and if she meets 100% of the criteria she will apply, if a man reads the same job description and he meets 60% of the criteria he will will apply and work out the rest when he gets the job.
Equality will only work if we get the men onside and they support women in their endeavours. I had always shied away from all female groups and asking for special opportunties, but times seem to have changed. I spoke to my fellow female pilots and they wanted this so we could share and discuss ideas related to drones. Without the mansplaining and misogyny we have been receiving on facebook groups and drone forums.
Here in 2018 there seems to be a resurgence in feminism my Mum told me in the 90s, it sort of drifted off as women were making great leaps and bounds or it felt they were. Now it seems with all the discussion around sexual predators, the centenary of some women getting the vote, the BBC salaries being shared in the public domain showing equality between the sexes. Note it won’t be just the BBC, it was because the BBC was forced to publish the pay of the stars in 2017. It will also be in every industry, company and office in the land that is effected. Equal pay is going to be hard to achieve especially if us women ourselves don’t value our skills and experience.
It feels like we are in a new wave of feminism, as we examine as a nation how much further we can go. This is the centenary of women getting the vote in the uk and just need to look at the hashtags surrounding the social media posts around the anniversary of women getting the vote #vote100 #100years #stillmarching #ourtimeisnow #thiscenturyisours and the one this post has been about #stillworktodo
Maybe Paperchase has got it right
I do feel we will be hearing more and more discussion about equality as 2018 continues. I have no idea if setting up and all female drone group is the right thing to do, it feels right and so myself and the small group will make no apology. Suffragettes broke windows and burnt down buildings to get action, the suffragists took quiet action and campaigned instead in peaceful process. All wanting the same thing. I see us more like suffragists a quiet corner where we work towards our goals in a supportive way.
Feel free to comment on this post, I would like to hear your views.
The Drone Lass
Note this is group is now called The UK Female drone collective this is due to another group with a similar name setting up their by line was for those kicked out of other groups for breaking the law! We are not those people…so added in the Female. Come join us if you want support and learn how NOT to break the law! – update 29/4/2019
So this morning James Beer was giving his review of the Mavic Pro and now we have the DJI Mavic Air. With the heady excitement of a drone launch that harks back to the time of Steve Jobs launching Apple products in a darkened auditorium with an enthusiastic cheering room of drone geeks. This was no where near as slick, a very nervous Michael Perry, North American DJI head honcho, stumbled over his words either he was very very excited, hadn’t had enough time to rehearse or was just so nervous at getting all the info imparted to the audience it made for slightly uncomfortable viewing. But who cares we have a new drone!
What is interesting is that social media feeds were way ahead of this launch we knew yesterday what was being launched the internet being more leaky than a leaky bucket. We even saw photos and a few of the specs revealed. As the live stream from New York got going it seems that DJI social media team were tweeting way ahead of the actual press conference. The press are such leaky bunch and its all down to who can get this information out faster than anyone else. But who cares we have a new drone!
So like christmas elves Michael Perry informed us as soon as the Mavic Pro was launched 18 months ago (which is dinosaur years in the drone world ) they went back to the drawing board to redesign, reinvigorated and reimagine this drone. To be honest this reimagine thing that DJI goes on about makes it sound so exciting and yes I do believe there are now a number of us wanting a Mavic Air.
So the Mavic Air what is it like? Well its half the size of the Mavic Pro and weighs 41% less. It will fly for 21 minutes on one battery, which were were informed is the longest flight time for a drone of this size. Cue some more heady marketing language it has , power, intelligence, and is portable (my inspire is portable it’s all relative) – they did say it was a good looking drone and stopped short of saying it has a good sense of humour and is good with children! 😉
The Mavic Air is all of these things as described. Because it’s powerful it needed a new ventilation system design, it has a 3 axis gimbal 4k camera with additional new designed casing and also increased distance coverage.
It’s a small drone, to prove this it came out of a Mary Poppins sized pocked of Michael Perry’s gilet, that contained his wallet, his i-phone and the controller which has handy removable joy sticks. I think one joy I won’t be looking forward to if I were to purchase will be hunting around for them as they fall out of your hands and down a hill or crevice and replacing them will be an unnecessary cost. In 300 plus years that plastic will still be in existence and someone will be able to pick it up and say oh my god they used to fly drones here! I see why they have decided to do the removable joy sticks to make the controller truly portable, but I really think that will be a niggle.
So what about the other specs for this drone?
22 Mph wind resistance for a drone 430g that is very impressive, considering that is the one thing that holds me back from purchasing a small drone like this.
The camera is a 1/2.3 CMOS sensor 24mm F2.8 camera that is capable of 100Mbps at 4k and 30fps. Again on a drone this size will be impressive if its capable of all this.
Loads of different flight modes, new panoramic mode that can stitch 25 photos together automatically.
Quick shot intelligent video modes, which are just getting more and more advanced each time DJI re-imagines it’s drones. This means that pilots won’t need the skills they had to have before. Smart capture just like the spark before – this hand gesturing which isn’t always as successful as lot of online reviews have suggested. It apparently is new and improved .
In addition there is this very safe new addition of APAS Advanced Pilot assistance systems so building on obstacle avoidance that was introduced nearly 2 years ago – this drone will go round obstacles and fly over and around. Now that is impressive! This is due to 7 onboard cameras and new software so yes it is going to live up to is safer drone label.
What else, oh yes it comes in Arctic White, Onyx Black and Flame red. But from underneath when flying you will still see a black casing.
I may have missed out a lot of additional information there was a lot to take in.
So how much will this drone cost? £769 for the Mavic Air x 1, Intelligent Flight Battery x 1, Charger x 1, Power Cable x 1, Propeller Pair x 4 , Propeller Guards x 1 Gimbal Protector x 1 Carrying Case x 1 Spare Controller Sticks x 1Remote Controller Cable x 3 Communication Cable x 1 USB Adapter x 1 RC Cable Slider x 3
For the fly more combo £949 all the above plus 1 x RC Controller 1 x USB & Lighting cables for device connection, 1 x Intelligent Flight Battery, 1 x Battery charger 4 x Spare propellers, 1 x Propeller guards Pair, 1 x Travel case, 1 x Power cable, 1 x User guide.
If you have recently bought a Mavic Pro – don’t despair you still have a great drone. There are advantages of both the Mavic air and the pro and as DJI reimagines it’s drones so quickly whatever drone you buy it is out of date as soon as you buy it. New cameras and new phones all pander to the tech geeks need to stay at the for front of tech which unfortunately moves so fast you can’t keep up. As always assess the drone that you use and what you use it for, buy what you can afford also what you can afford to crash!,
I am currently using an inspire 1 for TV and everyone is happy but one day I will have to upgrade but that will be once I have the funds and the desire to do so.
What is exciting about drone companies constantly developing the technology means that the new developments from this drone will filter through the ranges to the new drones, I for one can’t wait to see what happens with the Phantom range.
Shipping starts on the 28th of January and you can pre-order from selected stockists I see that Heliguy made their internet page for pre-order live as soon as the press conference in New York ended. Please note I am not affiliated to this company but I recommend them as their customer service is 5 star!
This drone will not be for the drone pro users but a fun drone and may be like the Mavic pro be good for corporates, web and social media films. Anyone obtaining money for drone work will still be requiring a PFCO and insurance to operate professionally.
Please comment if you are planning on buying one, I would happily let you write a review!
I am looking forward to seeing what the footage and real reviews are like and those will start to filter through to the internet in the next few days and weeks
In my previous blog post 360 cameras and photography pt 1 I talked about my passion for creating 360 content and I had managed to secure somewhere to post my new images. This was an opportunity when taking photos on a radio outside broadcast I was doing some photography for.
The first obstacle was how to publish these photos. I wanted ‘true’ 360° images that you could have a look around, not flat modified versions – but neither Twitter nor Instagram support this kind of content natively. I looked at using third party sites such as Kuula and then sharing the content to Twitter but in the end the decision was made to just put my images onto Facebook where the files would be instantly recognised as 360° content and be viewable correctly on both computers and mobile devices.
This worked well, the only downside being that FB compresses images and 360° content doesn’t look anything like as sharp as it does when you view it via camera apps such as Theta’s own viewer. The response however was very positive and I found myself being approached a week or two later by the same department for more 360° images – but this time of an art and sound installation which had been created for Manchester International Festival.
This turned out to be a great opportunity and perhaps the perfect subject for a 360° capture. The artwork was made up of stories from homeless people that had been painted over the course of the festival onto cardboard which was fixed to the walls, floor and stairs of a disused shoe shop in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The venue was long with pillars dotted throughout; there were different lighting level and the art filled every wall and parts of the floor so visitors were completely surrounded. It was a work you couldn’t photograph in its entirety in a single frame and it was impossible to capture the feeling of how the words covered the whole room – unless of course you photographed it in 360°.
I photographed the venue using the Theta S (not owning a Samsung at this point) and took some images with a tripod and then some low down, placing the camera gently on top of the art in places where the public simply couldn’t stand. The resulting pictures captured the work really well and a couple of images were put on Facebook where they were used to promote a radio programme about the artwork, which was broadcast with binaural sound (making the fact that we had 360° images as well as sound even more sweeter). I also wanted to create images which could be used on Twitter and Instagram so made some manipulated flat images which showed the walls of the room shot from a higher angle using a tripod.
Then a colleague of mine suggested I look at making a rotating gif of one of my images to give the feeling of 360° on platforms which couldn’t support 360° content. We looked at a few ways of doing this but I was reluctant to use any method which wasn’t extremely quick and simple because a lot of my work involves me photographing events in real time where images need to be ready to use in seconds. We eventually opted for the paid app Pi2Video (which costs less than two quid), which enabled me to import 360° images, select the angle and speed I wanted to view them in and then make a short video clip of the picture rotating. I put one of these on my Instagram feed not knowing if it would play correctly or if it would be that satisfactory because you couldn’t explore the image manually – but the clip still got a great response so it’s a method I would definitely use again.
So that’s where I am on my 360° journey so far. I have plans to look at AV capture that can be viewed with or without a VR headset and I am keen to find more projects where 360° material will enhance the viewing experience rather than be an unnecessary addition. I would like to try out
More cameras and particularly those where the offload and stitch is relatively simple and would be accessible to self shooters (rather than complex rigs which use multiple cameras that require complicated stitching in edit afterwards).
As for the current crop of consumer cameras I don’t want to give my opinion on which is best because there are some great comparison sites out there such as threesixtycameras.com and thewirecutter.com and I have only used four different cameras so can’t comment on the whole range of makes and models available.
I’ve used the Ricoh Theta S, the Nikon KeyMission, the Samsung Gear 360 and the Samsung’s newer model the Gear 360 2017 (which allows for iPhone integration) and whilst every one of them has specific things which give them the edge of over the others, I’d happily use any of them. That said, when I bought a second 360° camera I went for the Samsung Gear 360 2017. My decision was partly based on the need for a camera that had decent video quality (the Theta’s video output is notoriously bad) but mostly down to price. The new Samsung has a slightly lower spec than its older sibling but not only does it work with an iPhone, it also only costs around £200 (unlike the previous model which still retails at well over £300). At the time of buying my Samsung I had also been trying out a loaned Nikon KeyMission and I liked it a lot. The Nikon is robust with a good weight (handy for when you place it windy outdoor places and then have to hide out of shot), it pairs with a phone reasonably well, the picture quality is great and the offload process is straightforward. But it costs over £400 and that extra £200 over the Samsung 2017 can’t be justified. If money is a consideration then it’s worth remembering that the tech is still quite new and the prices will come down and I’m not sure the Nikon can justify such a hefty price tag when there are now comparable cameras on the market at half the price.
Personally I can’t wait for the next crop of cameras and in the meantime I am going to continue exploring what I can do with this sort of material and build up my 360 chops until I am as familiar and comfortable with 360° capture, editing and workflows as I am with regular content.
Thank you for joining me these last couple of days
Thank you so much Emma that was really enlightening and an enjoyable read.
Carys x aka The Drone Lass
If you visit 6 Music Facebook page you can see some of the content Emma created ….shhhh 😉
Next two blog posts will be by Emma Gibbs as you know sometimes I hand the blog over to someone who has something to share that is drone or technology related. Emma is a talented photographer and we often chat about different cameras so over to Emma.
For the past ten months or so I have been playing around with 360° photography. It’s taken me a while to really appreciate it. Whilst I totally understand the appeal of being able to capture an entire scene (including the sky above your head and the ground beneath your feet) I struggled to produce content which I felt had much impact and I was frustrated that it was difficult to widely publish the photographs in the form that they were meant to be seen – as images you could rotate, twist and explore.
On more than one occasion I nearly gave away my Ricoh Theta S, a 360° camera I had chosen purely because I owned an iPhone and therefore couldn’t use the higher spec Samsung Gear 360 which required a Samsung phone to operate it. The Theta lived in the bottom of my handbag; I would use it for occasional pictures but my increasing annoyance at my inability to get any output from it that I was happy with meant that one night when a guy down the pub started talking to me about his interest in 360° photography I very nearly whipped the Theta out and gave it to him. Fortunately good sense prevailed and it was this very camera which finally helped me develop my love of 360° content.
It’s still early days for consumer 360° cameras and as a result the image and video quality isn’t always as good as you’d expect which can be disheartening. Whilst venting my frustrations to a techie colleague at work I suggested that I was impatient for a standard of technology that doesn’t exist quite yet and my colleague said it was like when people go to a wedding with a point-and-shoot camera and then get disappointed that they don’t end up with DSLR quality photos. It was an accurate analogy; having a camera that can miraculously send stitched 360° digital images instantly through to my phone is so amazing that of course I expect the images to be as sharp as anything my other cameras can do. And to be fair, the pictures *do* look tight when displayed as flat equirectangular files (or even as spherical pictures via the camera’s accompanying software) but as soon as you view them spherically via sites such as YouTube, Flickr or Facebook the images lose a lot of clarity and you find yourself wondering why they don’t look as good as they should.
So what’s it like to shoot 360° content? The thing I’ve found most interesting is that there are several ways to present your work. When I started taking 360° photos I found (to my disappointment) that I couldn’t put images that I could rotate onto Instagram because the platform didn’t support it. The 360° pictures I found on Instagram looked great but they had been twisted and manipulated, with many being made into flat ‘tiny planets’ which aren’t accurate representations of the subject they are supposed to be capturing. I had always approached 360° photography in a very literal sense, thinking it should show what a place was like from all directions, when in fact other ways of displaying 360° images are equally as valid and perhaps creatively more exciting. Where I had been looking for places that would be visually interesting to explore via a photograph that you could navigate around, I realised that I could also look at capturing other environments which had prominent landmarks or textures (such as grassy parks and wide open spaces edged with recognisable buildings) – and whilst they wouldn’t be that exciting as rotatable images they would lend themselves really well to spherical manipulation as flat photographs.
Realising that there is more than one way to approach 360° material was a bit of a light bulb moment for me but that said, I still wanted to find subjects and environments which would be enhanced by being viewed as a rotatable image. 360° visuals still felt a bit like a novelty approach to photography and I wanted it to be something that gave viewers an experience that regular stills or video couldn’t. So I approached colleagues from a radio outside broadcast I was due to be working on and asked if I could take a few 360° stills along with the regular images I would be producing for their social media feed. I didn’t make a big deal about it or promise anything amazing but they agreed and so I had my pilot.
Join me tomorrow when I go into more detail of the pilot and the challenges of creating the images.