Following up on Denise's blog about our incredible trip this past summer to Greenland, I wanted to write about drone photography during this trip.
There are considerable limits on the amount of gear you can take to Greenland. This starts with the weight limits imposed by the airline, then of course, space on the boat is quite limited as well. Thankfully the DJI Mavic Pro is both small and lightweight.
According to our boat crew, about 50% of the people who bring a drone on this trip end up loosing or crashing their drone. Considering this was the trip of a lifetime, I decided to give flight a try on our first morning, but it was not meant to be. The drone had an internal calibration error and required a calibration process that required no movement or vibration. So I had to wait until we went ashore that evening to run the calibration routine.
The next morning we woke up at the Iceberg Graveyard. This is an area where the currents take the icebergs but there is nowhere for them to escape. The shot above was taken at the Iceberg Graveyard around 4:00am just prior to sunrise. Our ship was anchored a considerable distance away, and we took Zodiacs into this lagoon area and shot from land. It was also my favorite spot for using the Mavic and luckily we spent two mornings in this area and were able to return to this area the next morning.
I did try one flight a couple of days later from the boat. We were near a glacier and the boat was still but not anchored. Upon return to the boat the drone ended up doing a little bit of a controlled crash upon landing. I chipped a propeller but otherwise the drone was undamaged.
In addition to the minor crash I mentioned, I also had some times where the Mavic would lose GPS and then inflight control and stability became a bit more erratic. However, the more experienced you become as a pilot the easier these incidents are to handle.
This past Sunday RRPT held our first meetup at Summit Point Raceway. The event was called Drift Nirvana and unfortunately the weather kept a number of people away. The number of vehicles, spectators and of course photographers were quite a bit less than what I'm told by others would be normal.
Here at Road Runner we really don't like to cancel a meetup because of weather, since at least half the time the weather is such the meetup could be held. We won't talk about our last camping meetup, except to say it took a few days to dry out my gear.
I was hoping to get some great shots that included lots of tire smoke, but it rained the day before so the track was still wet. There was less friction between the tires and the pavement and as such a lot less smoke.
The Volvo pictured above was not the best looking car of the day, but it was driven so incredibly well and as such, was one of my favorite cars to watch and of course photograph.
One of my favorite things to do is explore the back country roads here in Virginia in search of what I call Americana. I was clicking through my Lightroom Catalog and happened across this barn and tractor that I shot this past summer. Luckily this scene was close to the road and the farmhouse that owns the property was on the other side of the road. As I pulled over I noticed a gentleman walking from his car to the house. I inquired if this was his property and if I could obtain permission to walk on the property to photograph the barn and tractor. This answer to my first question was yes and the answer to the second question was no.
The property owner indicated a concern that I could get hurt and bring litigation. Since I was already standing on the road I just took a couple shots from the road and thanked him for his time. While I can’t imagine getting hurt doing something so simple, and I’m just not the type of person that would sue if something happened, I think it is always good policy to be respectful and courteous.
Our last blog featured a massive iceberg that we shot around midnight on the start of our Greenland Adventure. After shooting that massive chunk of ice we retired to our bunks for the night. The boat crew worked in 3 hour shifts while we slept so we would arrive at the Sun Glacier the next morning.
The really cool thing about being on a boat was shooting this massive glacier within a few minutes of waking up in the morning. The Sun Glacier was such an amazing sight, the icecap that covers much of Greenland just rolled over the edge of this mountain range into the sea. We watched the glacier calving several times. Often there was a waterfall that would occur after the initial calving and the waterfall would sometimes run for just a few minutes and in other places the waterfalls were constant.
Little did we know every day for the next week would be an incredible visual treat.
This is what I call Iceberg Number One. A couple of weeks ago we landed at Constable Point in Greenland for the start of what one of our participants called “one of the top 5 events in my life”. This tour was over 2 years in planning and simply amazing! We will be writing additional blogs and posting additional images as time goes forward, but we wanted to get an image posted here on our blog.
Be sure to follow Don and Denise on Facebook if you don’t want to miss any of our images from this amazing trip.
Back to Number One. Our flight from Iceland to Greenland was delayed several hours due to weather in a different area of Greenland and this caused a cascading delay in our departure from Iceland. Once we finally got on the plane and started to taxi out to the runway, one of the plane’s engines died and we instead taxied to the maintenance hangar. After returning to the terminal Air Iceland readied another plane and 30 minutes later we were finally in the air.
Upon arrival in Greenland we had a 20 minute walk from the airport to the zodiacs, we transferred to the schooner Opal and after dinner started our voyage from Constable Point to the main part of Scoresby Sund. The first thing the crew told us is that distances in Greenland are deceptive. Number One Iceberg was visible to us on the boat almost 2 hours before we arrived. It seemed so much closer. We circled this beautiful hunk of ice between midnight and 1 a.m. before retiring for the night.
If you would like to be notified when registration is open for our 2020 Greenland Tour drop us an email.
I have mentioned many times before that "it is a wonderful time to be a photographer”. Usually I’m referencing the evolution and innovation of software, but today I’m talking about filters. Many people probably think that with the advent of digital photography you can apply filters in software. In some cases this is correct, but every serious photographer I know believes in getting it right in camera, regardless of how much work they plan to do later in the digital darkroom.
The innovation I’m talking about is so simple, I wonder why it took so long. Perhaps a decade ago the Variable Neutral Density Filter was invented and then copied by several others and often advertised as offering between 2 and 8 stops of light reduction. The dirty little secret is none of these gives you 8 stops of light reduction before what I call the butterfly effect happens. After turning between half and three quarters of the indicated range printed on the side of the filter, you end up with an uneven darkness that roughly resembles the shape of butterfly wings. Obviously, this effect is not photogenic. I have never taken the time to actually calculate how many useful stops of light reduction I get when using one of these old style variable ND filters, but I stopped carrying one in my bag and instead started carrying a 5 and 10 stop ND filter instead. After we switched most of our filter use to Breakthrough, I started carrying a 3, 6, and 10 stop filter in addition to a circular polarizer.
So let’s get back to what impressed me about the Benro Variable ND Filter. It has physical limits on the start and stop position of the filter. You just can't move it beyond its designed range of use. The Benro is advertised as a 2 to 7 stop filter, instead of the more commonly listed 2-8 stops by other filter manufacturers. The physical limits may seem like a small thing, but up until now no other variable filter has this feature.
This past weekend I took the filter with me while hiking White Oak Canyon in Shenandoah National Park. The filter is fairly thin and caused no visible vignette on the edges of the picture frame. I set up my base exposure at one second using aperture priority. This is so any reductions in light intensity will result in longer shutter speeds. The blog image above was a 30 second exposure. My camera does not meter for longer than 30 seconds, but at maximum density the meter was showing 30 seconds and underexposed by one to two stops. So I backed off a little from the maximum setting so I could get a 30 second exposure. I also took a variety of shots at different density settings and could not see any color casts or any other issues that made me question the quality of the filter.
The old Vari-ND filter is sitting in a box at home marked eBay. The new Benro Filter is occupying a nice space in my camera bag!
If you would like to try the Benro Vari-ND for yourself or any other Benro filter, Click here and use the discount code Roadrunner15
Note: A stop is a measure of exposure relating to the doubling or halving of the amount of light.