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New Year’s Eve Fireworks - Baltimore Inner Harbor

New Year’s Eve Fireworks – Baltimore Inner Harbor

Summer is officially in full swing, and the Fourth of July is just days away. After a day of celebrating in the sun, be sure to grab your camera for the evening’s main event: fireworks. Whether you’ve photographed fireworks before or are just starting out, this year, we want to challenge you to expand your creativity by taking your Fourth of July images to the next level. Charge your cameras and dig out your tripods! Get prepared and inspired, using this behind-the-scenes look at how these images from photographer Greg Pease came to life.

Guest blogger, Greg Pease, is a photographer, located in Baltimore, MD. Specializing in location photography, he uses his expertise to capture images of people in the workplace, aerials, and landscapes. Find him online at www.gregpeasephoto.com. 

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Fourth of July Fireworks – Washington DC

Fireworks displays have always sparked my imagination with their light, colors and patterns. Early in my career as a professional photographer, I began documenting my hometown of Baltimore’s revitalization in the mid 1970’s. I photographed the developing skyline, using the fireworks displays to illuminate the city and its marinas that ring around the Inner Harbor and the hundreds of boats gathered to view the fireworks above.

Fireworks provide a creative opportunity to use the quality and massive volume of light to illuminate and provide color and drama to large-scale subjects and scenes, such as landmarks, monuments and skylines at night.

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Monument Lighting Holiday Celebration, first monument to George Washington – Baltimore

In 2011, I was hired by Visit Baltimore to photograph the reenactment of the Bombardment of Fort McHenry for their kick-off ad campaign for the Star-Spangled 200 Bicentennial Celebrations commemorating the War of 1812.

 Reenactment of Bombardment of Fort McHenry Photo Notes: This photo was produced using seven reenactors and one cannon moved to multiple locations while shooting from a scissor lift fully extended 50 ft. high. The image was created in Photoshop by assembling the multiple components including the flag, cannon fire and fireworks into a single image.

Reenactment of Bombardment of Fort McHenry
Photo Notes: This photo was produced using seven re-enactors and one cannon moved to multiple locations while shooting from a scissor lift fully extended 50 ft. high. The image was created in Photoshop by assembling the multiple components including the flag, cannon fire and fireworks into a single image.

At the close of the Star-Spangled 200 Celebrations, I photographed the grand finale at Fort McHenry. I wanted to use the fireworks to create the atmosphere that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words that would become our National Anthem: “the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air…”

\Battle of Baltimore Reenactment of the Bombardment of Fort McHenry with Rockets Red Glare Photo Notes: Two cameras were used to shoot this photograph, one for the fireworks and the other for the Fort to create a single image.

Battle of Baltimore Reenactment of the Bombardment of Fort McHenry with Rockets Red Glare
Photo Notes: Two cameras were used to shoot this photograph, one for the fireworks and the other for the Fort to create a single image.

The Prep:
My planning begins with an aerial photo of the general area of the fireworks display. Google Earth Satellite is a pretty good source to determine where to set up cameras.
Pro-tip: Reflections in water are an enhancing feature, so look for water view locations.

The Gear
I set up two cameras, each with its own tripod.
45mm and 90mm are my favorite lenses (with a full frame sensor camera), and both are tilt/shift lenses, which enables me to shift up and down or vary my image format from horizontal to vertical to include more fireworks in the sky or water reflections below.
I use a LADDERKART (3 step) to transport equipment and to get above people standing in front of the camera/

The Details:
Long exposure noise reduction should be enabled.
f5.6 @ 5 seconds @ ISO100 was successful in many of the examples shown here.
Set your color balance. My preference is for a cool colored sky to make the generally warm fireworks visually move forward.
Shoot as the fireworks are ascending and descending, and vary the effect by shooting only the descending fireworks. This technique will prevent the fireworks from obscuring the buildings, etc.
Shoot as rapidly as you can before the smoke builds up.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks - Baltimore Inner Harbor

New Year’s Eve Fireworks – Baltimore Inner Harbor

There you have it! Try out these tips this weekend, and be sure to share the results with us by tagging #bestofLB8 on social media.

The latest in the Drones and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Special Series, in which Kike profiles interesting information, research, and thoughts using drones, UAVs and remotely piloted vehicles for journalism and photography. 

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Shopping for a “drone-obsessed” friend, family member, or yourself? I have decided to update my article The Best Drones for Beginners that was enjoyed by thousands of readers, and think of a general guide (list is not in order of preference) to help you choose your first drone.

I recommend you read my Drones and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Special Series before buying any aerial platforms, including:

 

1.  Byrobot Drone Fighter GX100: 2.4GHz RF two-way communication with six channels mini drone. Remove the rotor guards in expert mode to cut down on the weight and you can even do 360 flips. It has infrared transmitters and receivers on it, so if you have two or more, you can assign them to different teams. If your Drone Fighter is “hit” by an infrared shot, its LEDs flash and your controller vibrates in your hands. Get hit six times, and the game is over.

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2.  Sky Viper Video Drone: With a Super Tough Duraflex Body made of resilient polypropylene, it’s easy to perform easy one-tough stunts. Perform barrel rolls in mid-flight with a simple tap of the Stunt button. Experience a true bird’s eye and record 720p High Definition pictures and video. Be sure to check the Sky Rocket S670 Sky Viper Stunt Drone too.

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3.  Holy Stone RC Quadcopter Drone with HD Camera: A key 360 four-ways flip (left, right, forward, backward), continuous roll for perfection action and wonderful performance. It’s equipped with a key return and “headless security system” to prevent from losing the copter.

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4.  Cheerson CX-10 Mini RC Quadcopter: The 29mm 4CH 2.4Ghz-6-Axis Gyro LED RC Quadcopter incorporates a 6-axis design which makes the gyroscope adjustable, promoting flying stability. Flight time is up to 4-8 minutes and it includes a 3-level adjustable speed flip function.

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5.  Syma X5C Explorers 2.4G 4CH 6-Axis Gyro RC Quadcopter with HD Camera: Equipped with HD camera, it performs flips at the press of a button with 360 degree eversion. Wind resistant, the X5C can be flown indoors or outdoors for about a 7 minute flight. A 6-axis Gyro stabilization system ensures maximum stability. For an FPV version, look at the Syma X5SW WiFi FPV, working with both Android and Apple iOS mobile phones.

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Check out the rest of Kike’s drone recommendations and the full article here, and don’t forget to head on over to Amazon and iTunes to pick up a copy of his new book, So You Want to Create Maps Using Drones?

 

Guest post by liveBooks client Kike Calvo. 

This post is the latest in the Drones and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Special Series, which profiles interesting information, thoughts and research into using drones, UAVs or remotely piloted vehicles for journalism and photography, that I learn about during my travels.

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Pictured: Upgraded DJI Phantom 1. Photo © Nano Calvo.

 

If there is a question that gets asked over and over in the many emails I get in response to my Drones and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Special Series, it is “What gear and components do you use in your on-going process of becoming a proficient aerial photographer and filmmaker?” I will devote today’s column to discussing one of my basic rigs.

One of my unmanned vehicles of choice is the DJI Phantom, both Phantom 1 and Phantom 2. My decision is based on size, portability, and reliability. With the knowledge that experts from DSLRpros bring to the table, I have upgraded my system to include the following:

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Photo © Nano Calvo

 

Futaba Control Radio

“The Futaba remote control gives the Phantom nearly twice the range of the standard RC remote,” said DSLRpros Associate Josh Hohendorf. “In addition to increasing range, the connection with the craft is much stronger and reduces interference from foreign frequencies that would otherwise disrupt the flight of the craft. It offers a variety of programmable controls that photographers and cinematographers alike can customize their remote to suit their specific shooting needs.”

“The Futaba can save an unlimited number of settings for any unlimited number of crafts. Controlling the camera is also superior to the standard RC system. There are two range selectors. One knob for large-scale range selection and another wheel for smooth, fine tuning within that range.”

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Photo © Nano Calvo

 

Carbon Fiber Propellers

For awhile I debated whether I should be adding these or not. I finally went with them. “Carbon Fiber props are a must have for anyone using the phantom to capture visual content,” said Hohendorf. “The props are far superior to the standard plastic propellers in every way. Their rigidity prevents them from bending and warping like the plastic propellers. In addition, the rigid design translates into overall handling performances of the craft. It can achieve faster speed, harder maneuvers, and greater altitudes. The propellers are also precision balanced. This results in a far greater efficiency over the standard plastic propellers. The craft will fly several minutes longer with the lighter and more balanced propeller. A standard propeller will produce a great deal of vibration into the frame of the craft. This means that the video being recorded will display these vibrations in the form of ‘jello’ on the screen. The balanced carbon propeller will eliminate any vibration into the craft and result in clean and clear visual content.”

Warning: I suggest not installing carbon fiber propellers until you have become a proficient pilot, with a thorough understanding of the dynamics and operations of your craft, as these propellers can be more dangerous than plastic ones due to their superior strength.

To read the full article, check out the original source: So You Want to Shoot Aerial Photography Using Drones?

To learn more about drones, please visit: Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.



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