Solo for Photography — Interview with @aerialskylab

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How did you get started flying drones?

I’ve always had a passion for aviation and robotics. I was doing some video production work for a company called Creative Live in Seattle. During that shoot I met the super talented Nikon-sponsored photographer/cinematographer Corey Rich. That day one of his team members had a custom-built octo to carry the just-launched Nikon J1. I spent the rest of the day picking the pilot’s brain. I flew back home and ordered my first multirotor kit to learn how to build and tune drones.

When you’re shooting to create a panorama, what GoPro settings do you use?

I use a combination of settings depending on location.

I mostly run Protune with flat color.

ISO at the lowest possible setting to get proper exposure and higher shutter speeds.

Color balance to match the environment.

For sunsets I prefer to use 5500k; nighttime or cloudy days I’ll sometimes use 3300.

Any tips and tricks for users on composition?

Use the rule of thirds.

I personally use the “one point perspective” (also known as symmetrical framing; made famous by Stanley Kubrick) when I’m composing shots or cropping in post.

How do you space your photos for proper pano framing?

The technique I use is a term I coined, called “the 25 percent rule.” When framing the next shot in a pano series, I only rotate the copter enough to add 25% more information. This allows more overlap for the stitch software to use. It also gives some extra frames to choose from.

What software do you use for stitching panoramas?

I use Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC. For most shots I use Lightroom’s Photo Merge feature, but if I have a more complex pano that requires some perspective tweaks I’ll use Photoshop.

Any tips or tricks on getting a great stitch?

Take more photos than you need.

Pay attention to exposure shifts, and wait for the GoPro exposure to level out if you’re using auto settings.

It helps to use vertical features on either side to frame your pano.

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What other post-processing do you do once the stitch is completed?

I tweak exposure and color levels, and use light sharpening to bring out the details. To even out the images I use graduated exposure filters.

Any other editing/tips tricks you can share with our users?

Apply lens correction before the stitch.

Wait for the right moment.

You can make panos from 4k video stills using Adobe Premiere frame grab.

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Strangest story/encounter/demo experience with Solo?

Solo got attacked by a swarm of bees. I had to land about 200ft away and wait 30 mins for the bees to stop swarming the drone. I had bee guts and pollen spattered on the props and body. I think I chopped up a few bees.

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For more shots, check out instagram.com/aerialskylab.

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