There's no denying it - I'm getting older. Sure, there are the little things - injuries take a bit longer to heal, there's more than a bit of gray hair on my body, and I find myself saying things like, "I remember when candy bars used to cost 45¢." But surely the biggest indicator of my age is my resistance to change - a trait that I've called my own since I was twelve.
Anyway, I'm that guy who is constantly looking to fix things that are broken. To make things I've come to love last just a little longer. I'm the guy who found his favorite Mexican restaurant 27 years ago in a small central California town and hasn't looked back.
Seriously though, the food really is that good.
I'm also the guy who keeps writing down stories and publishing "still videos," when everyone else has moved on to InstaTube and TokTics. The guy who goes "car camping." The guy who hasn't tried to score sponsorships to enjoy the outdoors. I can assure you, @mini.turbodb thinks I'm crazy. And old. She assures me that "#" is pronounced "hashtag" and not "pound sign."
That doesn't mean I can't change. And I'm here to prove that with a video* that shows just how modern I've become.
* This video animates on demand (as you scroll), with always on closed captions (that I've previously heard referred to as paragraphs).
Now, on to the story. Err, ahh, "video."
I've been waiting a long time for this...
When the DJI Air 2S was released two years ago, I knew I wanted the Air 3S. That still doesn't exist, so I've "settled" for the Air 3!
For a long time, I've wanted to get a drone. This won't be the story where I go into the details about what I wanted in a flying camera, or how I actually made the decision to purchase one - though I'll certainly put one together for that as well. Rather, this was the first time I was able to use my new DJI Air 3 drone in the real world, and I was thrilled with the new perspective that it offered on a place that previously felt so well-known, especially to my Dad.
If you recognize any of the places shown in the photos, please help to keep them special by not mentioning their names or locations.
Technically the second flight - I was too nervous to capture anything worthwhile on the first - I sent the drone to scope out Lost Knife Knoll a few minutes before Pops and I headed out on our hike. The only problem - or at least, the biggest one - was that I hadn't figured out how to increase the max altitude, so I couldn't actually fly high enough to get a view from above the ridge.
#winning (that's pronounced "pound sign winning" )
Still, I did get some pretty nice shots of a few other nearby formations.
Sleeping Bear, using the 1x (24mm) lens.
And with the 3x (70mm) lens.
Looking out over Tip of the Spear, being above the ridge gives a new look at ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ Dome.
A familiar view, with a lot less hiking.
Hiking with the Air 3
With Pops carrying our sandwiches, I loaded up all my normal camera gear and quickly realized that bringing the drone meant doubling my load out. This was one of the things I was a little worried about with the Air 3 which weighs in at 720 grams. However, I soon realized that the remote and batteries quickly dwarfed the weight of the drone itself, so once I get a larger fanny pack, I should be just fine from a weight perspective.
At least when someone else is around to carry my sandwich.
It was really nice to get this perspective of Pops and I at Lost Knife Knoll.
When I figured out how to take a panorama - where the drone does all the heavy lifting - I was pretty jazzed.
Having figured out the "straight down" shot, I headed over to the bridge we'd crossed on our way up the mountain.
Green river. Crystal clear.
Flying at Sunset
I was really looking forward to flying out to ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ Dome to capture near-vertical faces of this omni-present landmark. Of course, I was also scared $#!#less that I'd lose the drone somewhere along the way, its recovery impossible given the terrain.
Naturally then, I decided to attempt the three-mile (17,700 foot) flight at sunset, when the lighting would be fantastic and the risk of crashing into an obstacle would be at its highest.
From a distance, I already felt closer.
I liked the foreground separation with the 70mm (3x) lens.
Still a mile from the dome, this was a view we'd never experienced before.
Amazing light as the Air 3 warned me that "ambient light levels are too low for obstacle avoidance to work correctly." Time to head home.
Sleeping Bear silhouette.
Looking back towards "home."
I loved the ability to press one button and have the drone return to the exact location where it'd launched.
The Remaining Flights
With the first flight to ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ Dome cut short by the pilot's nerves, I spent the next couple days getting more comfortable with long distances. After all, these were near-perfect conditions with line-of-sight between the drone and controller, and DJI promised a 20km range. Certainly they'd never inflate stats such as that. Plus, I'd bought the insurance, so I might as well fly like I had.
The Castle, usually only visible from below.
Sleeping Bear, the aerial view.
Sleeping Bear, viewed from the head, rather than the feet.
Like an iceberg, 90% of ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ Dome, is rarely seen!
Looks land-able. (I didn't have the guts to do it.)
Trees around camp are looking a little sparse!
Behind Little Bear, our Dome seems so... small.
Lost Knife Knoll.
So much to learn
I have to say, it was a ton of fun flying this thing around, even if all I did was take un-animated GIFs. If I learned one thing, it was that really mastering this new flying camera will take a lot of practice, especially if I ever want to actually shoot video. Flying the drone and controlling the camera gimble at the same time is an art, especially if one wants to end up with a pleasing result.
That said, I'm a stubborn one, so I'm sure I'll figure out a way to muddle through it eventually. Until then, get ready for mediocre-at-best content - you know, the norm.