After I moved to Hawaii, I started watching lots of surfing videos and the Mentawai islands kept popping up. This is a remote group of islands that has very consistent surf and not a ton of people - a great spot for a surfing vacation. I am still not good enough at surfing, but sometime in the next few years I will be going to this awesome place and I will take the drone and make a video. For all the students of drone photography out there, take note how he threw in shots taken from in the water to provide some additional angles and how he filmed the boat to break up the surfing - Great video Paul Borrud, I have already watched it several times!!
There is nothing that can help you more in aerial photography than having a good background in remote control airplanes and helicopters. If you are new to RC vehicles and have developed an interest in aerial photography, you have probably felt a little confused or overwhelmed the first time you take the controls on your new quadcopter. Many people like to run before they walk and they immediately start flying their expensive Phantom or other advanced copter before they have developed enough RC flight skills. Do not be fooled by the amazing GPS stability these offer you, you still need to be a good pilot!
If you are just getting into aerial photography and have your eyes set on a Phantom, you should budget in a micro quad for training. I really like the Hubsan X4 because it is cheap (sometimes as low as $35 on Amazon!!) and is challenging to fly. If you master the Hubsan X4, the more advanced copters used in aerial photography will be a breeze to fly!
I have written several blog posts with some different tips and techniques for learning to fly and recently conglomerated all of these into a short eBook in case you do not feel like going back through my blog. Basically, It is just short collection of 10 different exercises to practice over 7-14 days to quickly improve your line of sight flying. If you follow the program, you will be ready to safely fly your DJI Phantom or other advanced photography drone via line of sight. Once you have mastered line of sight flying, you will be ready for FPV as well. The underlying lessons in the book are simple - they walk you through flying tail in and progress through nose in forward flight and advanced maneuvers. If you want to start capturing really cool aerial content, you really have to work on your RC skills. There are also many other things you can do with your new found RC talents like exercise your dog (See the youtube video below).
This short book is $2.99 but most of the content is available elsewhere on my blog if you don't want to buy it. If anyone has other practice routines they used to improve their flying, please post them in the comment section so others can learn from you as well!!
I use my RC skills to exercise my big white dog because he loves trying to chomp my RC stuff. This is also a great way to improve your skills because it becomes so dynamic. This can get a big expensive if you are just learning to fly so I recommend this once you have gotten pretty good at fast forward flights and figure 8's. My dog is old and lazy so a 5 minute session of full bore running after this usually makes him sleep all day!! If you happen to watch the video below, you will notice he managed to shoot it down once but the Hubsan X4 just kept on flying without any damage. I really do love this little quadcopter.
My fellow drone buddies Ian and Marty from DroneMaui.com recently took a trip to Kauai and of course they took along their DJI Phantoms to get some aerial footage. There are some great shots of some of the wonderful natural scenario the Hawaiian island of Kauai has to offer. Hypnotic, endless tree lined roads, water falls, blowholes, and even a little crash - it is all here in this nice clip. Great work guys!
On a side note, they were waiting to get a DJI Phantom Backpack to make hiking the drone much easier but it did not get here in time for them to test it out. I was really looking forward to hearing how it did because carrying my hard case on long hikes is not fun (but it is a good workout!). Here is a link to a backpack case for several different drones on Amazon and a cooler but more expensive one from GoProffesional. If you are planning on hiking your gear to get cool shots, I can really see the advantage of a backpack over a hard case, but nothing beats ahard case for carrying a quadcopter on an airplane!