Category Archives: photography

Sample footage from Vievu2


Here’s some sample footage from Vievu’s new wearable video camera, at this point this is as much of a review I can do- they have not finished the iOS app to allow streaming and control of the camera yet.

This short clip shows the quality of video this small camera can produce. Not as good as an iPhone, but considering it’s size it’s decent.

Happy Fourth of July

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Shot from the annual parade in downtown Arlington today.

Spotted this Saturday. Either a couple jets were flying in formation, or there is some new type of aircraft with a 2 mile wingspan.

Been a while since we had a weekend with two awesome days of weather. I grabbed this shot of Boeing’s Dreamlifter 747 at Paine Field saturday. I thought it looked pretty nice with Mount Rainier in the background.

First Sunrise of 2013

Mount Pilchuck SunriseForgot to shut off my weekday alarm on my iPhone, so I ended up getting up early this morning, despite staying up to watch the ball drop.

Anyhow it turned out to be a pretty nice morning, fog burned off and I decided to get the quadcopter up for its first flight of 2013. Here’s a shot of the sun coming up by Mount Pilchuck.

Mount Rainer Sunset

Took this photo as we began our descent into Seattle last night. I thought the haze and pink light as the sun was setting made for a decent (albeit cliche) photo. Taken with my trusty Canon G10.

New addition to the hanger- 700 RC Helicopter w/ camera gimble

I picked up a Trex 600 stretched to 700 w/ a Photoship One camera gimble a couple weeks ago. It was built for a film company that was doing some aerial projects, came with both radios (one for helicopter, one for gimble) FPV transmitter, receiver and monitor. They had a hard time finding reliable pilots to fly it, and have moved on to renting full size helicopters for their aerial work now.

Anyhow I’m still getting things dialed in and adjusted. I’m planning on replacing the landing gear and doing a few other tweaks before I get it up in the air.

I did some ground testing this morning just to check for vibration and verify radio operation:

Review of the XP2 Quadcopter from Xproheli

I’ve been looking for a quadcopter or helicopter to shoot decent HD video for a while. I had some success using an HD Camera on an AR Drone, but the quality leaves a lot to be desired and the lifting performance is simply not there. I thought about a Trex 700, Gual x7, and the X650 from Xaircraft as well as several other options available on the internet. Then I stumbled on the XP2 from Xproheli. These guys are right here in the US (Bend, OR), and they are film makers who have obviously spent hundreds of hours trying to come up with a solution to shooting stable HD video from the air. Before I bought my XP2 I called Xproheli’s owner, Hans Skjersaa, to learn more about the device and what to expect. Hans is pretty pumped about this quad and it comes across quickly. He is willing to walk you through any questions or concerns. I immediately felt more comfortable buying the XP2 knowing I could get support from local guys rather than trying to email someone in China.

So I went for it and bought the RTF XP2 from them. It arrived on my porch the next afternoon, totally complete with radio, 4 batteries and charger (you supply the camera). Hans told me to give him a call before I tried to fly it for the first time, he walked me through what to expect and offered some good tips. After a couple rainy days I had it up flying- the power of this thing blew me away- it has tons of reserve power, carrying a Gopro is not an issue at all for the XP2. You can put this thing several hundred feet in the air in a matter of seconds. Unlike the AR Drone and some helicopters, this quad has no “stable” or auto leveling feature- if you do a control input it stays in that orientation until you counter that input. So, if you bank to the right, it will stay in that bank until you roll out of it yourself. At first this is a little hard to learn, but the results are the video will be very smooth. I’m thinking I’ll be installing a FPV video system next to allow for better control at altitude or distance.

I’ve got dozens of trouble free flights on it so far (about 2.5 hours of actual flight time) and I really love the way this thing flies. It’s durable- being made of aluminum it’s very light, and unlike so many of the other quads out there, if you land hard or have an accident you can bend the aluminum back into alignment rather than have broken carbon fiber or plastic pieces to deal with.

I hope these guys keep pushing the design to allow for larger cameras, and maybe add features like GPS, altitude hold and other options to make it even more versatile.

Here is a video review I made showing the XP2 in the air, as well as some video and photos I’ve taken with it:

Yeah it’s expensive, but these guys have worked hard to come up with a great quadcopter that is unlike anything else out there and I think it produces video that rivals pro-grade RC helicopters that cost thousands more.

If you are interested in one go to www.xproheli.com and see what they have, you won’t be disappointed.


My Encounter with Air Force One

Like all first term Presidents, President Obama wants simply one thing- a second term. So with that in mind he made a quick cash run up the west coast this week to grab an estimated $8 million in donations. That may sound like a lot of money, but it adds up quick when you charge people $35,800 to have dinner with you, or $17,900 for lunch. But with the economy running this strong, who can’t afford something like that? Nobody would expect any type of favor in return for such modest donations.

Being a fan of aircraft I figured it would be worth a try to see if I could get some video of Air Force One and the various support vehicles and aircraft.

Unfortunately Paine Field sits on top of a slightly elevated area- so there are no vantage points from a distance. Your only hope is to get in close, and today the Secret Service attempted to make that impossible. Every access point was shut down, simple viewing locations behind the fence line were off-limits. One of the deputies I spoke with said that the Secret Service wants, “nobody to be able to view AF1 from the airport”. That makes it tough to get a good shot.

About 45 minutes before Obama arrived, a group of 7 helicopters arrived from the South: Marine Squadron One. They had two “Marine One” Presidential helicopters, and the rest appeared to be escort/gunship helicopters. They looked and sounded like something from the film “Apocalypse Now”:

At this point, a lot of folks started to show up where I was (south end of the runway near the DEM and old Fire Station). Parents bringing kids, Boeing workers, and just curious folks wanting to see the President land. I should point out there were no signs indicating the area I was at was closed, or off limits in any way. So people started setting up tripods, kids were getting excited and the anticipation began to build.

That all came to a halt when a deputy came up to the fence and told everyone they had to leave, and if they were seen again “it would be a problem”. His orders came from the Secret Service. So everyone had to disperse, absolutely nobody would be able to see Air Force One with their own eyes today. I pulled back and parked out of visual range of the officers. At this point King County’s Guardian One started to orbit the area.

I thought it was odd that King County’s Helicopter was being used at Snohomish County’s airport, rather than Snohomish County’s Snohawk 1 or even Snohawk 10. But this was clearly not a day to question authority. As I sat 100′ from the fence I was not supposed to look at, I listened to the scanner traffic. A couple things noted here: the Secret Service frequencies you can get off the internet work great- they are very active, but they are 95% encrypted so it’s pointless to listen. So I was listening to the PSOPS N3, N4 and Everett 4 talkgroups while I monitored Paine Field approach. A few minutes passed, and I heard Air Force One on final approach. At this point people began walking back toward the fence. The excitement began to build again. I grabbed my tripod and cameras and walked back toward the fence area and to what, I assumed, would be a certain death from the security detail.

To my surprise, I was able to actually get some decent shots of Air Force One as it made the turn at the end of runway 16R. I waited for the flashbangs, teargas and rubber bullets but it was remarkably calm. The sheriff’s deputies were looking at all of us (probably 30 or so) and let us get what we wanted- pictures. I grabbed some video as well:

After that I got the hell out of there. In talking with some of the other scofflaws who wanted to take felonious photographs of Air Force One, it was clear this was some of the most extreme security anyone had encountered. Several of them had been to other visits from AF1 and never had this type of insane restrictive security. I consider myself lucky to survive the event, and the officers who let us get these pictures deserve a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.


2012 Snowstorm Hits Snohomish County

This week has been a total weather mess in Western Washington. It started for us in Snohomish County on Monday morning, light snow accumulated quickly to a few inches. It got worse each day, by Wednesday I had over 10″ of snow at my house. The driving conditions in rural Snhomish County were terrible, with compact snow and ice making for difficult commutes.

On Tuesday I drove around and got a few decent photos of the snow around Eastern Snohomish County- here are some of my favorites: