Simple Magic

It isn't every day that my wife and I get to collaborate on a project.   When my sister in Indiana and her (now) husband asked if we could help to arrange a simple beach wedding for them, we were all too happy to accommodate. 

I sourced and built the archway and Dina came up with the idea for the flameless candles to fashion an approach to the archway.  

I build things and Dina made them look pretty.   :)

With only four of us, a friend handling photography and a wedding officiant, the bride and groom were happy with their simple sunset ceremony on the Gulf. 

Reflection Rider (4k)

Reflection Rider  (4k Short)

About a Mile from my front porch, headed North sits a fish camp at the base of a bridge on Alabama State Highway 225.  The bridge crosses a waterway that spills into the southeast portion of Bay Minette Basin and into Bay Minette, itself.  

(Bay Minette: the bay, not Bay Minette: the oddly named and illegally-established county seat of Baldwin County.) 

As you stand at the launch: to your left, the delta sprawls in front of a distant Mobile skyline.  In front of you, the waterway stretches into the distance with a few piers and hunting camps along the east side.  To the right sits a pier and a houseboat with tons of southern character.   The property is smattered with outbuildings with tin-roofs and varied construction methods and the parking area was heavily washed out from a recent heavy-rainstorm.

As I opened the SUV and unloaded a small drone, the sound of a creaking screen door as 91-year old Leslie Buzbee comes out to investigate my presence, as he often does.  It is that strange moment where the kind-eyed property owner sizes me up to determine what my business is here around sunset.  

His confusion is only expanded when I approach, as I always do, clutching a $5 bill and a friendly wave to offer to pay a launch fee.   He puzzles over my shoulder as he looks at my dated white SUV (without a boat) and I maintain my best harmless smile as I struggle with the etiquette of showing unannounced at someone's home (that is also a business, of sorts).  

I explain that I'm here for pictures and he waves off my $5 offering, as he always does.   I've learned to be careful with my choice of words in these situations.   "I'm here for a shoot." may be understood by most people in the context and presence of photography equipment but sometimes the word "shoot" can put a man like this on his guard. 

On this day, Mr. Buzbee is puppy-sitting his son's dog, Popeye; who at that very moment was particularly interested in the small white plastic drone on the ground near the waterfront.    I'm aware that his son, as they say in these parts: "had a run-in with the law", a few years back but I keep the conversation in the safe topics like Popeye's playful meanderings, the weather & fishing.  

Most of the time Leslie Buzbee isn't very talkative but sometimes you may get him to share stories of the time he was hired to 'wrangle alligators' during the filming of Friday the 13th VII up the road at Byrnes Lake landing.

As I flew the drone, Mr. Buzbee kept a watchful eye from his porch.  I walked over to show him the Drone's view from the iPad.   He looked at the screen and seemed to get it though he didn't say much as he watched the iPad screen and the changing view from the drone which was hovering about 100 feet high and 1,000 feet away.  A few minutes into the flight Popeye began to wander too close to the nearby road and he enlisted my help to corral the wayward pup back into his house.  

As I laid down the controller of the still-in-flight drone to coax Popeye away from the road, I believe Mr. Buzbee's curiosity towards my flying camera apparatus returned but at this point, the sunset (and my battery-life) had concluded.  

This video was the result of this outing.

Regatta al Sol

Had a great time shooting the Regatta al Sol with the awesome folks from Good Grit Magazine today.  Between the epic hospitality of the boat owner/captain (Pictured top left) and the wonderful facilities of the Pensacola Yacht Club, it was a very cool shoot.  Always nice to work with talented and fun folks :)

This is actually just a screen grab from one of today's videos.   Plenty of beautiful boats and talented sailers!

Tilt Shift of Mobile and Drone Talk Tonight (Updated)

One of the things about Drone photography of Cities is that it really lends itself towards a tilt-shift treatment.   If you haven't seen the CBS Late Show intro, check it out.  It was done by Fernando Livschitz (  and his work is awesome.

In the spirit of imitation being the greatest form of flattery I tried my hand on this shot of turning a drone photo into a tilt-shift creation.   It looks like I have much to learn :)

On the topic of drones, I'll be giving a chat this afternoon with the Eastern Shore Camera Club in Fairhope's Faulkner Campus, Centennial Hall - tonight at 6:30pm CST.   Drop by and join us for a look at Drones in photography and film!

All slides from today are available for download from:

Music & Art

At Blueberry Jam Sessions @ Weeks Bay Plantation in Fairhope, it was a brisk but awesome day. The grounds of the venue were quite often and I enjoyed what I heard of the acts that performed.

A hill on a lake forms a natural amphitheater, folks lounge on blankets as a frisbee is tossed around in the distance. The wind carries a faint whiff of weed across the small crowd while kids play on bouncy houses in the distance. Food trucks dispense tasty goods, vendors sell their wares.. The scene is almost surreal. Everyone is having a great time.

This guy caught my eye. Right in front of the stage, he stands with his easel, painting as the music plays around us. I don't know his story and honestly, I don't want to. I like the one I made up for him in my mind, much better. :)

The Blueberry Jam Sessions was really cool.   Most of all I enjoyed the venue, Weeks Bay Plantation - a downright fantastic spot for a music festival or any festival for that matter.

I was at this event to capture some aerial footage for future promotions and while there I ran into another drone operator and kindred spirit in photography, Zane Isaac.  Check out his work!   Always fun meeting folks with similar interests!

Fun at the 2015 Fairhope Film Festival

This year I was invited by a friend to tag along and do some shooting at the Fairhope FIlm Festival.   The goal was to put the drones to use for some off-eye-level shots that could be used for next year's promotional videos.  

On that aspect, there wasn't a ton for me to shoot (movies are indoors, most of the time!) but I did have a great time and got to meet plenty of interesting film-makers and artists.

During the opening night party, at Regions Bank in Downtown Fairhope, they showed Roy2k's Lake of Dreams.   It is a spectacular look at Burning Man, shot and compiled into some jaw-dropping visuals.   Check it out below.

As an added bonus, I got to meet and talk w/ Roy2k for a good bit of time about his Burning Man experiences.   I really need to put work on a back burner and get to this one of these days!

Check out Roy2k's site here:

And finally, an aerial view of the opening night party, shot from the Inspire:

Drones and Regulations

I was privileged to speak with Will Robinson-Smith w/ local FOX 10 today about today's announcement regarding Drone regulations.
Listening to the news cycle, it seems like there is a good bit of pre-over-reaction concerning the idea of a drone registry.  

At any rate, today's announcement is like so many others regarding drones.  
"Something is coming, we just don't know what, yet but we do know when: before Christmas."   :)

Having a drone registry isn't a terrible idea, promoting responsibility amongst drone owner-operators is a good thing.   

In an ideal world, drones would be no-more regulated than a hobbyist ultra-lite powered glider.  If a Drone registry makes the folks in Washington feel better about the increasingly-crowded skies, then so be it, it certainly sounds better than a full-on-pilot's license and there is something to be said about how officially-recorded personal responsibility can encourage safe-and-responsible use.

The Challenges as I see them:
1) Tracking ownership of any purchase has proven a bit problematic to the Government. (Think: Gun registry).    Do they really have the infrastructure in place to do this?  The answer is, No, not yet.   When you purchase a gun you fill out a transfer-form.  But, there is no national database for those transfers and those transfers do not cover person-to-person sales.    Same situation is ahead for drones.  

2) Officials have had a tough time defining drones.  They use weight, operating altitude, method-of-use to help define them but these aren't complete.   Defining what separates a so-called drone from a typical model aircraft is important.   Might I suggest range-capability, 1st-person view capability and flight controller features as a starting point.  

3) Who actually enforces a drone registry?  Doesn't seem on the face of it that this will be at all feasible.    Who stops and asks me for my drone registration?  Is that highway patrol?   Seems like they are busy enough.  FAA Regional offices?  How much does that cost the tax payers?  Perhaps the drone registration should have light fees to help offset this expense.  Point-of-sale doesn't even begin to cover where to enforce a drone registry, since - you know - any 16 year old with youtube can find parts and build one. 

At any rate, anything with the name drone grabs the attention and fears of an interested public.   Hopefully the legislation that gets formalized will be smart and agile.  

The Drone industry certainly is. :)

After the rides and festivities and spending nearly 30 minutes watching the model train layout setup inside the coliseum, we got the kids settled in the car and was able to do a quick flyaround of the fairgrounds.    Careful to keep the Inspire 1 over surrounding fields and not over people, I'm pretty happy with the resulting unedited video.   The lights always make for an awesome aerial spectacle!

The link to the video fly around is here: