Learning To Fly

Written by: Tony Korologos | Date: Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
Categories: Aerial ImageryDJIPhotographyVideo

Conditions were calm, presenting a great opportunity to head down to my home course River Oaks to try some aerial video with the DJI Phantom Quadcopter and my new vibration damping attachment. River Oaks can be extremely windy, so when calmer conditions present themselves, its time to hit it.hole5-110513
It was VERY cold, but the Phantom did well.


Just like regular photography/video, lighting is key. The sun was setting and there was some great light and shadows (above), for a while. Those shadows made for good imagery.

I also need to keep in mind where the light source, the sun, is. For much of the video the camera was pointed at the sun.  The GoPro doesn’t do terribly when when facing into the sun and since it doesn’t shoot raw, I can’t mess with the exposure.  But then again, you can’t shoot video in raw…


Once the quadcopter gets to about 170 yards away it is but a tiny object and hard to see, even with my glasses on.  It is almost impossible to tell what direction the copter is pointing.  In GPS mode I can stop the unit and it will hover in place, then I can try some small directional moves to see if I’m sending it farther away or closer.  The problem there is that there’s quite an illusion with distance.  It can actually look like the unit is getting closer to you when it is actually going farther away, and vice versa.  That’s a tough one I’m not sure how to deal with just yet.  I handled it more calmly this time, unlike the last time when it went over a fence and crashed into a tree.

Flight Time

I certainly need to get a small stopwatch and perhaps velcro it to the remote.   With the GoPro mounted, I get about 10 minutes of flight time.  Once the battery starts to die, the unit will land itself.  That’s great, unless it is over a body of water or over the freeway.

If I’m flying over bodies of water or areas in which the copter simply cannot land, I need to start those with a fully battery and be fully aware of how many minutes flight time there is left.  I need to be sure to give myself enough battery power to get the unit back before it lands on its own.


I’m uploading a video to YouTube from today.  It is greatly improved with the vibration damping system.  BUT, a gimbal is sorely needed to keep the video smooth.


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