Keith is doing some great work with his Phantom and he agreed to an interview about how he got started and what he does. Be sure to visit firegroundimages.com or check out his youtube channel to see all of his awesome drone photography work with fires. Thanks Keith for the interview!
- Full time career firefighter in Bridgeport, CT for 15 years.
- Own and operate a fireground photography business for 15 years ( www.firegroundimages.com). This is done while off-duty.
- Recently added aerial photography by drone to my fireground photography business as well as to my non-fire photography.
Why did you decide to start using a Phantom to shoot aerials of fires?
- I always enjoyed seeing aerial views of major fires from news choppers throughout the years. I have been photographing fires traditionally for about 15 years now, and that was one view I obviously could never get. This was just a whole new take on fire photography for me. I would be able to get 360 views around the buildings (allowing you to see sides that might not have been accessible, or just too dangerous to get to), shooting at a higher altitude (allowing you to see the firefighting roof operations that you can't see from the ground if the structure has a parapet or the operations are taking place on the other side of the ridge from where you are shooting), etc.
Gear currently being used:
- DJI Phantom 1
- GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition
- Zenmuse H3-2D Gimbal for video stabilization.
- 600 MW Immersion RC 5.8 Transmitter for FPV
- Immersion RC 5.8 Circular Polarized spiroNet Antenna
- 5 inch LCD Monitor for FPV
- I chose to use the Phantom because it seemed to be the best possible option for what I wanted to shoot. New to the RC field, it seemed like the most affordable, dependable, and could still produce the quality that I would want to publish. I have been using this rig for about 9 months now and have recently purchased a DSLR Pros Phantom 2 Sundance Edition Kit with a few added custom upgrades ( http://www.dslrpros.com/brands/sundance-aerial-kit.html )
Did you have any previous RC experience (if not, how did you learn to fly)?
- I had no previous RC experience before purchasing the Phantom 1. Before ordering it, and while waiting for it to be delivered, I read and watched absolutely everything I could find on drones, quadcopters, and aerial photography. I still do this to this day. I would also speak to people who did have experience. This is how I met Justin. I purchased his first e-book which had a lot of great info for the beginner like me. Then I actually emailed him with a few questions and he was incredibly helpful and knowlegeable. Once the Phantom arrived, I started out small. I flew it around my back yard, at a low altitude, and with very small and slow maneuvers. Once it started to feel a little more comfortable to me, I would take it to a large open field and keep practicing with maneuvering and filming, only now taking longer and higher runs. I would take it back home and review the video to see how the different movements of the craft would affect the footage.
How else could drones be useful to firefighters in general?
- There is a tremendous amount of press out there now that outlines the MANY benefits that drones could have over firefighting and the emergency services. One example could be how the department that I work for used it to find hidden pockets of fire in a large commercial building the day after the fire. After having been ravished by fire, structures are left completely unsafe for firefighters to crawl through and search for hot spots. A large multiple story commercial building, like the one I have filmed in Bridgeport, CT ( http://youtu.be/eig7CMtf3w0 ), could have a 360 view by drone looking at all floors to see where master streams, or aerial streams should be directed. Another example could be to use them in Hazmat situations. For example, sending it into the hot zone to find a leak in a damaged rail car, etc. More examples could be in search in rescue. The possibilities are endless.
Any tips or secrets for photographing fires in general?
- It all starts with a scanner. Program a scanner with all of the frequencies of the towns that you feel you can access from your location. And then it's all about waiting.
- Have your camera gear ready at all times (batteries charged, media cards formatted, etc).
- Keep your eyes open on the fireground! Do not get tunnel vision. The fireground is a volatile environment. If you get to a scene early, you might end up closer to the action than you should. Police usually arrive quickly and will set up a safe perimeter for the public, but if you get there before they do, BE CAREFUL.
Where you can find my aerial work:
Fire Photography which now includes aerials: www.firegroundimages.com and https://www.facebook.com/firegroundimages
Non-Fire Photography Aerials: www.kmphotography.cc/Aerial-Views