Posts Tagged ‘Flying’

Stunning ‘orbital drone-lapse’ captured by flying a drone in huge circles

14 Nov

It’s difficult to stand out when creating a time-lapse these days—from the storm-lapses of Mike Oblinski, to the ‘flow-motion’ hyperlapses of Rob Whitworth, to the award-winning work of Michael Shainblum, it seems like it’s all been done. Until, that is, someone comes up with something like ‘Low Earth Orbit.’

This drone-lapse from Folegandros Island, Greece was captured by Hong Kong-based production company Visual Suspect using a simple ‘orbital’ technique; translation: they flew a drone in massive circles while recording time-lapse.

The results look like something out of Google Earth, but instead of static low-res images from orbit, you have living landscapes captured in HD. Here’s an explanation of the “how” and “why” by the creators themselves:

Orbital drone movements are the ones with power to convert two dimensional images into dancing focal layers escaping out of the frame. We wanted to further explore the technique, with high altitude long orbits, along with ones very close to the ground, we call them “Orbital drone-lapses”. These shots are a mix of automatic and manual flights.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

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New FAA drone rules restrict flying near 10 major US landmarks

30 Sep

The FAA has released a new set of drone rules that restrict UAV flight near 10 major Department of Interior landmarks in the United States, including the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, and the Hoover Dam.

According to the FAA, it has decided to exercise its authority under Code of Federal Regulations Title 14 § 99.7 to establish these new restrictions after receiving multiple requests from both law enforcement and national security agencies. Starting October 5th, when these new rules go live, drone owners will no longer be allowed to fly their drones within 400ft of the following 10 monuments:

  • Statue of Liberty National Monument, New York, NY
  • Boston National Historical Park (U.S.S. Constitution), Boston, MA
  • Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, PA
  • Folsom Dam; Folsom, CA
  • Glen Canyon Dam; Lake Powell, AZ
  • Grand Coulee Dam; Grand Coulee, WA
  • Hoover Dam; Boulder City, NV
  • Jefferson National Expansion Memorial; St. Louis, MO
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Keystone, SD
  • Shasta Dam; Shasta Lake, CA

Anyone who violates these new rules could face criminal and/or civil penalties. The FAA says that there are “a few exceptions” to the restriction, though it doesn’t specify what they are, instead saying that the drone operator has to coordinate their plan with the FAA and/or the landmark site specifically if they wish to fly within 400ft of the above landmarks.

Drone operators can view a full list of restricted airspace on the FAA’s website.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

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Master drone pilot captures video while flying around, inside, and under a moving train

25 Sep

Absolutely, positively never try this yourself. By all accounts, this flight was highly illegal and DPReview in no way condones this activity.

If you’re at all plugged into the world of drone news, you’ve probably seen this video floating around the past week. Captured by master First Person View (FPV) drone pilot Paul Nurkkala, it shows his “flight of the year” in which he flies around, inside, onto, and under a moving train… barrel rolls included.

Nurkkala captured the video using his custom built drone, which is equipped with a GoPro Hero5 Session and piloted from afar using special FPV goggles.

The video has split the internet into two predictably conflicted camps. The first thinks it’s just the coolest footage to ever come out of a drone, because Nurkkala is clearly such a talented pilot. The second is infuriated that he would do something so obviously illegal, post the results online, and receive so much praise and adulation (and so many views… at last count his 5-day old YouTube video had accrued nearly 850,000 views).

No judgement if you find yourself both entertained and a little bit annoyed/angry while watching the video.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

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Build super simple flying wing delta wing rc pdf

23 Aug

20 Tigershark did not enter production and although the program was not officially terminated until 17 November 1986 it was dead by mid, despair all that remain: Man returns to site where jet crash killed his family. including Vice Admiral William D. 1963 for a target kite that used stiffenings, 16 was considered unsuitable largely […]

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$11,000 Leica Noctilux lens shattered, or: Why you never check camera gear when flying

19 Aug
RIP Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux. Photo credit: Leica Store Manchester

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, here’s your 1,000 words about why you should never check in your camera gear when flying. This $ 11,000 Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux ASPH lens and the $ 7,000 Leica M10 it was attached to are both broken, possibly beyond repair, after the owner checked them into the hold on a flight instead of carrying them onto the plane.

The lens showed up like this at the Leica Store Manchester, who posted this photo to their Instagram and Facebook pages as a warning for other photographers who have considered checking their camera gear. It might be easier, but you never know what kind of treatment your bag is going to get.

Case in point: the murdered Noctilux above arrived at its destination with two front lens elements shattered… through a filter. What’s left of the poor filter is stuck in the lens’ filter threads. The owner has sent the lens and and camera to a Leica service center, but while the camera might be fixable, we doubt there’s anything to be done about the lens.

Shall we consider this lesson learned?

Photo by Leica Store Manchester and used with permission.

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Shaolin Flying Monks Temple: Wind Tunnel Facilitates Midair Kung Fu Fighting

26 Apr

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

Mixing modern architecture and traditional arena theater design, the Shaolin Flying Monks Temple features a massive wind tunnel that lets combatants in rural Henan, China, fly and fight in front of hundreds of fascinated observers.

The mountainous setting is home to the historical Shaolin Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and is considered the birthplace of Zen Buddhism and the Kung Fu martial arts practice (as well as the cradle of Chinese civilization more broadly).

Designed by Latvian architect Austris Mailitis, the pavilion is designed to be both contemporary while also deferential to the region and its traditions. The designer was commissioned based on a chance meeting at the Shanghai Expo in 2010.

The mounded shape of the complex and branching, trunk-like protrusion of the tunnel take their inspiration from a translation of Shaolin, meaning: mountain in the wood.

“The architectural and conceptual image pays respect to the beauty of surrounding nature and the historical heritage of the site. Developed in the shape of two symbols – mountain and tree – it serves as a platform for any kind of scenic arts focusing especially on flying performances.”

“The building method combines modern and ancient technologies,” explained the architect” — a laser-cut steel superstructure supports stone steps handcrafted using local quarry resources.”

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

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Flying drones over the internet isn’t the future we wanted, but it’s the one we’ve got

25 Mar
You’re flying… kind of! Cape lets registered users fly drones in remote locations. Takeoff and landing are handled automatically by the drone.

We were promised jetpacks, but as many-a-scholar has noted, here we are knocking on 2020’s door and we are still jetpackless. We have, however, managed to put countless drones into the sky. While jetpacks are scarce, a drone can be had for as little as $ 15 and as much as, well a hell of a lot more than that. Anyone can fly a cheapo drone into their living room wall, but if you want to fly a bigger drone somewhere cool there are costs, logistics and federal guidelines to contend with. What’s an apartment-dweller with big drone flying ambitions to do?

Enter Cape: a service that lets you fly real drones in real outdoor locations, without leaving the comfort of your home or your web browser. No license, no learning curve, no expensive crashes. Flight locations are exclusively located in California at this point, and the service is in beta so its developers expect to work out some bugs and improve latency before launch. Deep into a stretch of grey Seattle weather, flying a drone around a sunny California desert sounded fantastic to me.

Just sitting at my desk in Seattle, flying over the Sacramento River. You know, no big deal.

How I learned to stop worrying and love the drone

Cape’s locations include desert and coastal sites including San Francisco Bay, the Salton Sea and Sacramento River. Each has its own hours and days of availability, but most are available weekdays until 5pm Pacific Time. Provided your internet connection is robust, all you need to do is select a site that’s available and hop to the controls of your very own DJI Inspire 1.

Your flight begins with a diagram of your keyboard control shortcuts overlaying the camera’s live feed. Getting started just requires pressing ‘enter’ to initiate autopilot take-off. And there you are – soaring above the California desert with the press of a button.

When your session starts, you’re met with this handy controls diagram.

Cape’s drones are as dummy-proof as you’d hope they would be. A map in the corner of the screen indicates where your aircraft is in the geo-fenced zone. You can’t go beyond the zone’s boundaries, can’t crash your drone into another drone, and can’t stray outside of minimum and maximum altitudes – autopilot will kick in and prevent you from doing any of these things.

You quite literally learn the controls on the fly, but they’re easy to master. There’s some lag, but it was honestly less than I expected. In no time, I was zooming across a little patch of California desert at a reasonable speed and legal altitude. There wasn’t much to see, since that’s how deserts are, aside from some distant brush and pixelated mountains on the horizon.

And on that topic: considering you’re flying a drone that could very well be a world away, the live feed resolution isn’t bad. At best it looks like a Google Street View image, but most of the time it’s a bit more pixelated than that as it catches up with your movements. This translates to a slightly less awe-inspiring experience than, say, actually being there to gaze on some distant desert mountains.

I’m trying to drown this drone and it’s having none of it.

It’s a small world after all

The zones feel small once you’ve flown from one edge to the other, and by necessity the controls are pared down to a minimum. If it’s a truly realistic piloting experience you’re hankering, I’m not sure it’ll scratch that itch. Playing tennis on a Nintendo Wii is convenient and fun in its own way, but it’s not the same experience as playing on a real court with a racquet in your hand. You don’t come away with the same satisfaction when so much is done for you.

So if it doesn’t quite provide the same excitement as flying a drone in person, is it escapism that Cape can provide? Sure, getting a peek at the sun for the first time in days, even virtually, felt pretty nice. I can attest to how strong the desire is around Seattle to be somewhere sunny right now. I got a little bit of that escapism from Cape, but not so much that I’ll be racing back to fly somewhere else tomorrow.

But really, when you think about what Cape allows you to do, it’s kind of incredible. You’re controlling an aircraft hundreds, maybe thousands of miles away, in real time. Finding visually rich places where those drones can be operated safely and legally seems like a tricky balance. Cape’s website says the company is working on ‘unlocking new locations,’ and if one of those locations is in say, Norway or Iceland, then you’d definitely have my attention.

It’s not jetpacks, but maybe we’re getting closer.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

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Flying your drone into the Space Needle can land you in jail

17 Jan

A small crew setting up for a fireworks display on top of Seattle’s famed Space Needle received an unexpected visitor on New Year’s Eve: a drone. The vehicle came crashing onto the Needle’s top platform in the afternoon of Saturday, December 31st and luckily, nobody was hurt. The footage above shows the drone hovering around the tower for several minutes before making a beeline toward the platform.

There are no city statutes prohibiting drone use in Seattle. Since nobody was hurt and there was no property damage the drone operator would not be charged on either of those counts. However, the pilot may face a charge of reckless endangerment – a gross misdemeanor that carries up to a year prison sentence and/or a $ 5,000 fine in the state of Washington. 

It seems that officials have tracked down the drone’s owner, and Geekwire may have found that person’s (now locked) Twitter account. A cached tweet appears to show the operator blaming DJI’s ‘return to home’ function for the crash.

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Daredevil Santa: Human Flying Drone Enables Sky-High Snowboarding Tricks

24 Dec

[ By SA Rogers in Gadgets & Geekery & Technology. ]


“This isn’t fake, I promise,” said filmmaker Casey Neistat as he announced the impending debut of his ‘Human Flying Drone Holiday Movie’ on Twitter with a dubious-looking graphic. Anyone who saw that tweet could be forgiven for their skepticism, especially since Neistat was teaming up with fellow YouTube star Jesse Wellens of the channel PrankvsPrank to pull off the stunt. But by all accounts, this footage of the ‘world’s largest homemade drone’ is real, and a Santa-suited Neistat is actually flying 25 feet in the air.


No one in the world sells a drone that can lift a human being, so Neistat and his team set out to create one. The octocopter drone, which is augmented with a Samsung Galaxy Gear 360 action camera, reportedly took over a year to build, and the video clip was shot at a ski resort in Finland over the course of four days. In it, the daredevil YouTuber zooms down a slope on a snowboard and then takes off into the sky, going higher and higher before the final jump takes him 100 feet into the air, as smoke bombs fastened to his feet emit vivid pink plumes.



One thing that’s not quite what it seems is Neistat’s single-handed grip on the handle: he’s actually securely fastened to the drone, dubbed ‘Janet,’ by a body harness. The rest of it, as far as anyone can tell, is legit. Looks like fun! Check out how it’s done in the behind-the-scenes video above.

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[ By SA Rogers in Gadgets & Geekery & Technology. ]

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Gear of the Year 2016: Dan’s Choice – the DJI Mavic Pro (which he stinks at flying)

24 Dec
The Mavic Pro inspired me creatively and challenged me as a photographer more than any other product this year. Even if I still stink at flying it. Photo by Dan Bracaglia

I first flew the original DJI Phantom in 2013 as part of an article for Popular Science and have had drones on my mind ever since. However, my obsession with the idea of flight goes back to childhood, when I would launch into the sky anything I could get my hands on: kites, rockets, model planes, RC helicopters etc. 

When DJI announced the Mavic Pro at the end of September, I knew my years of patiently telling myself to ‘wait one more generation,’ had paid off: the Mavic Pro was the one for me. The reason? DJI is easily the most reputable maker of consumer drones and with the Mavic Pro, users get an easy-to-fly product (with years of R & D incorporated into it), good image quality, and an impressively-compact/portable package. It truly is the every-man’s drone. 

This is one of the few watchable clips I’ve shot so far.

Two months after pre-ordering, the box finally arrived at our office. And the first thing I learned upon firing it up is that despite the name, owning one certainly does not make you a ‘pro.’ The first thing I did with it was smash it into a wall in my apartment (I know, flying it inside the first time was a bad idea). 

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been flying RC aircraft since childhood, and I like to think I’m pretty skilled behind the sticks. After all I can maneuver one of those $ 20 RC helicopters you get from Radio Shack (they do still exist, right?) like a champion. But crashing a $ 20 RC copter into a kitchen cabinet is one thing, crashing a $ 1000 drone into a kitchen cabinet is another thing entirely (video below). Note: this was the second crash. 

Photography is all about finesse and control, whether over one’s settings, light, subjects or all three. However being a good photographer does not make one a good drone operator. Despite the Mavic Pro being incredibly easy to get off the ground and fly safely (thank obstacle avoidance), there is a substantial learning curve in using it in an effective manner.

Outside of my childhood passion for controlling things as they soar through the sky, the DJI Mavic Pro is my gear of the year because it is the one piece of kit that challenges my understanding of both photography and video as mediums. Moreover, it challenges me to learn new skills that can be used to get new shots and perspectives as a content creator.

And knowing it’s in my bag and can be launched in under 10 minutes make me all the more eager to use it. Suddenly I can shoots stills and videos of friends skateboarding, or snowboarding or an outdoor concert, from both the ground and the air with relative ease. 

A sample image edited to taste in Adobe Lightroom. Photo by Dan Bracaglia

The drone industry is no longer in its infancy, in fact it’s growing up fast. And I think the Mavic Pro is a sure sign of this. High end consumer units are coming down in price, shrinking in size and offering increasingly impressive stills and video. At the same time, accident avoidance systems and other safety measure are also getting better.

It’s possible that before long we will live in a world where drones are as ubiquitous as smartphone. That’s somewhat of a terrifying thought, but all the more reason, if you are operating a drone, to try and be as safe and respectful to those around you as possible. Set a positive example for other drone fliers. Don’t ruin the fun for everyone else. 

I’ve only flown the drone on four occasions, but I can already see (modest) improvements in my skills, which is pretty exciting. With traditional photography, improvements can often only be seen retrospectively. Of course, accidents do happen and I’ll probably break the Mavic Pro in due time (perhaps even before this piece goes live). Fortunately, DJI offers one year of insurance for $ 100. That will cover you for up to two drone replacements in that time. I would certainly recommend this coverage to any first time fliers.

In conclusion, please enjoy the above scenic out-of-focus clip I shot last weekend In Seattle on one of the only clear days we’ve had this winter. Some day I hope to go back and try again. Maybe I should practice a bit more first, and not in my kitchen. 

Or instead you can watch the below clip of excellent 4K footage from the Mavic Pro, shot by Youtube user Digital Tech Reviews & Tips. #DroneGoals

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