Old 01-21-2015, 11:34 PM   #1
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Default Great copter shot

Image © Doyle Massey
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What an impressive structure and probably the only way to get that photo is with a quadcopter.

The wide-angle distortion is a little bothersome with the horizon tilting to the right and the well cars on the trestle's apex tilting to the left. As the quality of the built-in cameras get better these photo platforms will be a railfans must-have item. I noticed no exif data. Is Doyle using a DJ Phantom?
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Old 01-21-2015, 11:59 PM   #2
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From what I remember from seeing his copter during the Santa Train, I think it is a Phantom Vision or something along those lines.

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Old 01-22-2015, 12:01 PM   #3
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Is Doyle using a DJ Phantom?
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From what I remember from seeing his copter during the Santa Train, I think it is a Phantom Vision or something along those lines.
The shot has EXIF data, it was a PHANTOM VISION FC200
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Old 01-22-2015, 12:44 PM   #4
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The shot has EXIF data, it was a PHANTOM VISION FC200
recalling it from memory is better.

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Old 01-23-2015, 06:09 PM   #5
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From what I remember from seeing his copter during the Santa Train, I think it is a Phantom Vision or something along those lines.

Loyd L.
I'm using a homemade drone made with balsa wood, discarded plastic utensils from KFC, duct tape and four miniature gasoline motors with spit valves and miniature turbo chargers. I have an old Kodak 616 with folding bellows hanging below using florist wire.

So far I haven't been able to get it off the ground, but I'm still fine tuning. It's just a matter of time...

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Old 01-23-2015, 06:11 PM   #6
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I'm using a homemade drone made with balsa wood, discarded plastic utensils from KFC, duct tape and four miniature gasoline motors with spit valves and miniature turbo chargers. I have an old Kodak 616 with folding bellows hanging below using florist wire.

So far I haven't been able to get it off the ground, but I'm still fine tuning. It's just a matter of time...

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I looked all over for you during the santa train, but I guess you're a good hider..

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Old 01-23-2015, 06:17 PM   #7
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I looked all over for you during the santa train, but I guess you're a good hider..

Loyd L.
My wife and I only chased it from Speers Ferry over to Frisco this year. I've only got a half million shots of the train from the last 40 years, so it's lost a little of its mystique for me. Still, it's a cool operation to see each year.
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Old 01-23-2015, 08:35 PM   #8
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My wife and I only chased it from Speers Ferry over to Frisco this year. I've only got a half million shots of the train from the last 40 years, so it's lost a little of its mystique for me. Still, it's a cool operation to see each year.

I'm not sure where all I shot it, but I did knock down most of the must have shots that I am familiar with, so who knows if I'll return.. lol

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Old 01-22-2015, 02:12 AM   #9
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These quad copter cameras usually have an extremely wide lens. The distortion works for me actually. But Doyle surely has the option of straightening it out in something like Photoshop.
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Old 01-22-2015, 02:25 AM   #10
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The wide angle distortion of the Hero and Vision cameras annoys me, especially when you have someone like Grumpy killin' it with a DSLR in the air.

http://blog.grumpysworld.com/?paged=2

I have a Hero4 and have been shooting video on narrow only. Unfortunately, for still shots it's limited to medium and wide.
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Old 01-22-2015, 03:06 AM   #11
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The wide angle distortion of the Hero and Vision cameras annoys me, especially when you have someone like Grumpy killin' it with a DSLR in the air.

http://blog.grumpysworld.com/?paged=2

I have a Hero4 and have been shooting video on narrow only. Unfortunately, for still shots it's limited to medium and wide.
It seems to me a decent point and shoot camera with a built-in or Wi-Fi interface to the copter's software would be the answer. I wonder if the marketing departments of Canon, etc. are aware of the need?
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Old 01-22-2015, 03:38 AM   #12
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To do it right, you need a D4, a 24-70mm f/2.8, and a Bell 206 JetRanger with the cabin door removed.
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Old 01-22-2015, 03:46 AM   #13
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To do it right, you need a D4, a 24-70mm f/2.8, and a Bell 206 JetRanger with the cabin door removed.
Been there. Only I used a Arri 435 and an Angenieux 24-290mm T/2.8.
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Old 01-22-2015, 04:03 AM   #14
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To do it right, you need a D4, a 24-70mm f/2.8, and a Bell 206 JetRanger with the cabin door removed.
I've been looking on Craigslist...
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Old 01-22-2015, 01:35 PM   #15
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The wide angle distortion of the Hero and Vision cameras annoys me, especially when you have someone like Grumpy killin' it with a DSLR in the air.

http://blog.grumpysworld.com/?paged=2
I just went through 4-5 of Grumpy's most recent posts, starting with the one you linked. "killin' it" ??? Not in my view, looks like he is a very boring aerial wedgie shooter. From what I see of the posts I looked at, he does nothing to take advantage of having a copter. He may be technically precise, his DSLR may offer a different distortion profile, but to what end? I'd much rather see shots of the type seen in this thread, despite the distortion (which is adjustable in post anyway, I would think).
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Old 01-22-2015, 06:49 PM   #16
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I just went through 4-5 of Grumpy's most recent posts, starting with the one you linked. "killin' it" ??? Not in my view, looks like he is a very boring aerial wedgie shooter. From what I see of the posts I looked at, he does nothing to take advantage of having a copter. He may be technically precise, his DSLR may offer a different distortion profile, but to what end? I'd much rather see shots of the type seen in this thread, despite the distortion (which is adjustable in post anyway, I would think).
Are you aware of where Grumpy 'fans? You will not see shots like the type seen in this thread...
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Old 01-22-2015, 09:00 PM   #17
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The wide angle distortion of the Hero and Vision cameras annoys me, especially when you have someone like Grumpy killin' it with a DSLR in the air.
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Are you aware of where Grumpy 'fans? You will not see shots like the type seen in this thread...
I think I expressed myself poorly.

Jim, you may be simply saying that Grumpy is a technically careful and precise user of aerial photography equipment. Fine. That doesn't constitute "killin' it" in my book, just like, in my view, your ability to precisely level your photographs doesn't constitute "killin' it". It is something you do extremely well, and is worth emulating, tis all. So maybe I overreacted to your rhetoric, taking it to mean something it may not have meant.

Chris, I presume grumpy is located somewhere in the rural parts of the flat plains of this country. Which means, I suspect, that aerial photography inherently cannot add much in the way of compositional value to photography from those parts. In no way is that a shortcoming of his.

Thinking more broadly, when I think about what 'copter-based aerial photography can contribute to our hobby, I am not thinking about what I will call "sky wedgies." I am thinking about what I find to be unique perspectives. I think the Massey shot has a really cool sweep of its curve through the frame, one in which not only the horizontal curvature but the vertical "ramp" come into play. It is sweet!

This one by Massey tells the story of "bridge", with a very strong element of "valley", in a way which is unique to aerials. (But ugh, the winter lack of foliage! So ugly! Fortunately, IIRC, Chris Stearns has a somewhat similar shot from the summer.)

Image © Doyle Massey
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Photograph © Doyle Massey

Both of those shots are shots that, in my view, represent views unique to 'copter shots. They fit my vaunted category of "I wish I took that shot" images. They expand my perception of what is possible in photography (just like when I first started to see ultra-wide lens shots). Lots of other Massey 'copter shots do not, the Grumpy 'copter shots I have seen do not. No big deal.
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Old 01-22-2015, 09:29 PM   #18
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I think I expressed myself poorly.

Jim, you may be simply saying that Grumpy is a technically careful and precise user of aerial photography equipment. Fine. That doesn't constitute "killin' it" in my book, just like, in my view, your ability to precisely level your photographs doesn't constitute "killin' it". It is something you do extremely well, and is worth emulating, tis all. So maybe I overreacted to your rhetoric, taking it to mean something it may not have meant.
Anyone who has mastered a particular genre of photography is "killin' it" in my book. Sorry you don't agree.

Insert a non-distorted Rahm, IN., bridge in this scene and maybe you'll appreciate his work more. http://blog.grumpysworld.com/wp-cont...orapids_1s.jpg
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Old 01-22-2015, 07:34 PM   #19
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I just went through 4-5 of Grumpy's most recent posts, starting with the one you linked. "killin' it" ??? Not in my view, looks like he is a very boring aerial wedgie shooter. From what I see of the posts I looked at, he does nothing to take advantage of having a copter. He may be technically precise, his DSLR may offer a different distortion profile, but to what end? I'd much rather see shots of the type seen in this thread, despite the distortion (which is adjustable in post anyway, I would think).
4 or 5 posts? He's been posting train pics on that blog for many years (and on a regular basis...he's quite the diehard blogger!), and I'm guessing posting aerial pics for the last 6 months to a year. You're gonna need to look at a much larger sampling than that. I'd post some examples here but I'm not sure how he feels about his images being posted elsewhere on the web (especially on RP, which I doubt he's very fond of).

So far, he's got THE highest quality aerial train pics I've seen.

I have no idea who Grumpy is nor have I ever even seen a photo of him. However, I think he is one of the most technically accurate and intelligent photographers I've ever followed. And for someone like me who is super OCD about photography, it was natural for me to become a fan of his work.
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Old 01-22-2015, 09:14 PM   #20
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I just went through 4-5 of Grumpy's most recent posts, starting with the one you linked. "killin' it" ??? Not in my view, looks like he is a very boring aerial wedgie shooter. From what I see of the posts I looked at, he does nothing to take advantage of having a copter. He may be technically precise, his DSLR may offer a different distortion profile, but to what end? I'd much rather see shots of the type seen in this thread, despite the distortion (which is adjustable in post anyway, I would think).
I have read Grumpy off and on for years. Back in the last days of film and the first days of digital, I avidly read his blog for what i could learn from his, shall we say, unique POV. I would certainly agree he takes refining his work to a very high technical level. Thus I can see Jim's attraction to that.

But I am with J on the "to what end"? He does nothing but endless pumpkin wedgies. On the ground or in the air, no difference. I stopped reading because I could not see growing purpose to his efforts.

My livelihood once depended on making sure expensive actor performances were properly focused. Therefore grant me that I know a little about what is photographically sharp and what is not. So I am sure you can understand that when Grumpy presented five images magnified and he discerns invisible-to-me focus differences (save one), I had to get off the train.
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Old 01-23-2015, 01:36 AM   #21
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I just went through 4-5 of Grumpy's most recent posts, starting with the one you linked. "killin' it" ??? Not in my view, looks like he is a very boring aerial wedgie shooter. From what I see of the posts I looked at, he does nothing to take advantage of having a copter. He may be technically precise, his DSLR may offer a different distortion profile, but to what end? I'd much rather see shots of the type seen in this thread, despite the distortion (which is adjustable in post anyway, I would think).

I used to read a lot of Grumpy's stuff, back when he lived in Lincoln. Then, he moved to Lawrence (where I graduated from college) and I sort of wandered away from his blog. I used to write humorous comments to his posts and we would email. I'm a bit surprised he's still at it--didn't he get married? That usually kills off your fun.

All in all I've had some of the same thoughts you do, only perhaps I'm a bit more charitable. I was often left a bit mystified why Grumpy would obsess with minute details of camera gear, but basically shoot the same three shots over and over again. (Every now and then he did step out of his zone and come back with some shots that were pure genius!) I have not seen his latest drone shots, but it appears the only thing that has changed is the altitude. Only Grumpy would put $4,000 worth of camera gear at high risk, just to get a wedgie! I've thought about going this route too, but the Dakota winds are merciless. Whatever I bought wouldn't last long. Anyway, the ability to shoot in a third dimension would open up a lot of creativity, one would think. Like I said, I used to live where Grumpy does, and am familiar with the area. There are some much cooler places to take drone shots than a generic muddy field. I have to say this about Grumpy though. The guy is having fun, and he's been around a long time. He certainly has his fans, which is more than can be said about me I suppose.

I too have rented planes for photography, including foamer photography. I'll give a quick story about the time I hired a helicopter in Hawaii (Kuaii to be specific.) There's a big collapsed volcanic cone there, and I wanted a shot straight down into it. I found a guy who for a thousand bucks or so would take the doors off the helicopter and turn the bird sideways. Way cool! So, my wife and I got on and off we went. It was actually pretty cold up there but we persevered. The copter circled over the cone and then suddenly turned sideways. I quickly started shooting straight down--WOW! My wife was sitting on the same side of the copter as I was--nothing between her and the ground ~3,000 ft. below but her seat belt. I could hear her screams over the roar of the blades!!!! When we got back, the pilot said, "You didn't tell your wife about the sideways shot?" Well no, I sorta forgot. Wife said she had never been so scared out of her wits like that before! The upshot was she said she would NEVER get on another helicopter with me again-EVER! And she hasn't, not even in Iceland.


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Old 01-23-2015, 06:13 PM   #22
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I just went through 4-5 of Grumpy's most recent posts, starting with the one you linked. "killin' it" ??? Not in my view, looks like he is a very boring aerial wedgie shooter.
I would agree. There wasn't much in the way of creative composition there---just a bunch of high altitude shots of BNSF units. Z-z-z-z-z-z

I really like Doyle's shot of the approach to the bridge south of Evansville (that's a former L&N line, I might add). I actually love the wide angle distortion.

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Old 01-22-2015, 02:41 PM   #23
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I'm with Kevin and Dennis. The wide angle distortion from the ?? Go Pro ?? or whatever is truly annoying. PS Kevin, good results also come from a Cessna 172 with the window open and a pilot who knows how to keep the wing and landing gear out of the frame. Cheaper than a helo by orders of magnitude, too.
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Old 01-22-2015, 03:32 PM   #24
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Hi Bob,

I fly a lot of aerial photography sorties these days with the Civil Air Patrol....not much search and rescue stuff happening since General Aviation kind of died a few years back. Aerial reconnaissance is pretty much what we do now.

Photographing stationary subjects in a fixed-wing airplane is not all that difficult, but attempting to put a photographer in a position to capture a specific scene that involves a moving object like a train, as well as other elements, is a whole LOT tougher. Unlike a helo, which can hover in the exact spot and wait for the scene to develop (wind conditions permitting), the fixed wing aircraft is continually moving (if we want to stay healthy ). Probably the slowest I can safely get and still maneuver in a 182 or 206 is about 75 Kt. That's just over 86 mph for the ground-pounders. Assuming I know what the photographer is trying to capture, I've got to assess the train's speed and position, as well as my own, and take into account what the winds aloft are doing, as I try to TIME getting the aircraft to that exact spot, with exactly the right bank angle, at exactly the right moment. It takes as much luck as it does skill.

Of course, if there is terrain around, things get even more interesting for the fixed-wing guys. I also have limitations on how low I can legally go. The helo can go as low as he dares, as long as he does not pose an undue hazard to persons or property on the ground. I say "dares" because helos still need to be concerned about the possibility of an engine failure and being able to get it on the ground safely if that happens.

If I am out to shoot an RP Photo of the Week, I'll take the helo any day over the fixed wing. Yes, it is several times more expensive. But it will be the difference between simply coming home with an aerial shot of a train, and coming home with a shot that will be worth the investment.
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Old 01-22-2015, 04:33 PM   #25
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Hi Bob,

If I am out to shoot an RP Photo of the Week, I'll take the helo any day over the fixed wing. Yes, it is several times more expensive. But it will be the difference between simply coming home with an aerial shot of a train, and coming home with a shot that will be worth the investment.
So Kevin how big are the checks that RP.net send you...
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