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Today is December 25, 2022 – Christmas shot with the new drone. 

Christmas came a little early and the self-to-self presents are always the best!  I picked up a DJI Mini 3 Pro about a week ago.  I flew for the first time yesterday (Christmas Eve) and again today.  I really love this new drone.  It is so small, but so capable.  I got the Fly More Combo which includes 2 extra batteries, advertised up to 40 mins of flight time.  This drone does much better in wind compared to the predecessor Mini’s, which are known for fly-aways with stronger winds.  The best part about this drone is the feature that allows you to rotate the camera from a horizontal to vertical orientation.  Perfect for Instagram captures!  I went ahead got the smart remote, so no more need to mount the phone to the remote, or being denied when you forget your phone (been there done that…)


This shot of the Kimberling City bridge over Table Rock Lake was taken with the new drone. Looking forward to mastering this drone and hopefully some really cool captures!  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Today is March 16, 2022 - First flight as an FAA certified Part 107 Pilot. 

My phone rang on February 28th, 2022 and the caller ID read FAA..., typically not a good phone call to get, especially if you fly drones.  If I said I was not worried, I would be lying.  A minute into a very cordial conversation, I knew I was in some kind of trouble, but kept my cool because deep inside I really couldn't think of any drone regulations I may have broken.  I really do not like to fly drones just to fly.  I fly aerial cameras for photography purposes, I know and follow the regulations, typically fly early weekend mornings, and certainly never draw any attention.  

Turns out I did not break any drone flight regulations such as flying in controlled airspace without authorization, flying over people, moving cars, above 400 feet AGL, etc. which will get you in serious trouble really fast.  The FAA person asked me if I had my Part 107 license, to which I responded - No, I do not have one nor do I need one since I fly as a hobbyist/recreational operator that has never made a single penny on any of my drone photos.  Even with the previous statement being 100% true, it turns out that I did break regulations by operating my drone as a recreational flyer without recreational intent.  So, wait..., what does that mean?  

Here is what really happened.  I have been flying drones, taking cool pictures, submitting the pictures to a local TV station and the TV station has been featuring my pictures on the air while crediting my name.  I did this a lot for several weeks, sometimes my photos would be shown 3-4 times per week.  I guess someone did not appreciate seeing my name on TV that often and reported me to the FAA.  By doing what I was doing, my intent to operate my drone was no longer recreational due to the fact that I was intentionally submitting my work to a TV station in return for receiving credit/recognition on the air, time after time after time.  Fair enough and makes sense.


So, I studied for 70 hours over the next 6 days, took the test, and passed with a 97%.  To the person that reported me (FAA will never tell you who), thank you for doing that. I now fly with more confidence than ever and can submit all the pictures I want.  This is the first capture I took as an FAA Part 107 certified pilot!

Today is February 21, 2022 - Added street photography. 

​It’s been over six months since my last update.  Well…, some good and bad news.  Bad news is, I got a nasty case of COVID last fall and was really sick for 3 weeks, sickest I have ever been.  Took me additional 4-5 weeks to get my lungs back.  Good news is, I beat it and get to talk about it.  My own fault, as I kept putting off getting vaccinated for no good reason.  Had I been vaccinated, pretty sure I still would have gotten sick, but hopefully not as bad as I was.  My recommendation – get the shot as you DON’T want what I had, trust me on that one.

Now the really good news!  I got my first real camera.  After nearly a year long wait, the Sony A7IV has arrived.  I paired it with a Sony 16-35 GM lens and couldn’t be any happier.  I have to say that aerial photography is way easier than land photography.  Having a camera with wings just makes things so much easier.  There are so many more camera settings on the Sony compared to my drone cameras, adding so much more complexity.  Definitely learning the ropes of the new hardware and it will be a while before I start feeling comfortable, and more importantly knowledgeable of all the settings.​

New camera means expansion of the photography hobby – Street and Landscape Photography (from the ground).  I got my feet barely wet shooting cars with my iPhone.  Street photography is hard to say the least as you are not shooting gorgeous vintage cars sitting on the corner of the street under a light. You have to be creative with your shots as well as not be shy to include people in them.  Landscape photography from the ground is also challenging as you can’t send the camera into the sky for an ideal aerial shot.  Just as with learning the ropes of the new hardware, it’s going to take even longer to learn the art of street/landscape photography with a handheld camera.  Last, the really cool thing about shooting from the ground is that you can spend hours walking through the streets taking all kinds of shots, or just looking for that perfect shot. With a drone, you are in, out and on your way home.  Getting lots of exercise these days just walking around.​

The photograph here of Meow Wolf building sitting between I-25 and Colfax Ave early in the morning is the first shot with the Sony that I was brave enough to post on my Instagram. 

If you are reading this, then thank you for stopping by!

Today is August 8, 2021 - First car shot.

Cars, especially American muscle cars have always been a passion of mine.​  It all started in high school with my 78 Trans Am.  That car brings back lots of good memories as my dad I worked on it together.  Dad did a lot of the bodywork and painted the car bright red, while I did most of the engine work.  For a while there, I was sinking every dollar I made working a part time job into this car.  Also, I remember getting smoked by all the local Camaros, which is why I decided to rebuild the motor.  At the end, I sold the car for next to nothing compared to what I put into it.  

Today my pride and joy cars are 66 Corvette, 68 Camaro and 72 Camaro.  I really can't claim anything on the Vette as my father-in-law did everything to that car before he sold it to my wife and I.  The 72 Camaro is pretty much the same story since I haven't done much to it as the owner before me did all the work.  The 68 Camaro is a whole different story as that was my first car.  To say that I have a lot of time, work, blood, bruises, frustration, fun, etc. into that car, would be an understatement.  The red paint is the only thing I have not replaced on that car, because everything else I pretty much did!

I enjoy going to car shows but I haven't done that in the last few years.  This is where photography changed things once again.  With the idea of growing and expending my Instagram audience, I decided to start shooting cars.  You can't do better than a car show when it comes to shooting cool cars, which is what I decided to.  The very next Sunday I went to a local car show at Back Street Tavern and Grill and capture this photo.  Wasn't sure how my Instagram followers would react to the car introduction, but they appear to have very much welcomed it. Since then, I have been to four car shows in a row, which I am enjoying once again.     

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Today is June 12, 2021 - First shot with the new drone.

Well....had a little mishap with my one and only drone, which I had to take to the drone hospital.  Didn't crash it or anything like that.  The damage happened while the drone was still in its bag and I "accidently" backed over it in the 66 Vette (don't ask, a very STUPID mistake on my part...)  Not really backed over it, but rather squeezed it with the rear wheel before I realized what was going on.  Thankfully the two spare batteries took the brunt of the squeeze/damage, however some of the pressure shifted onto the drone which resulted in one of the folded up back legs to get pushed passed its normal folding position.  Could have been SO MUCH worse!  After thorough inspection I really didn't find any drastic damage and actually ended up doing a close proximity test flight without any issues.  I did decide to have the back leg replaced, just to have my flight confidence restored back to 100%. Finally got the drone back yesterday and looking forward to flying it soon!

While dropping off the drone at the local DJI store/repair center (drone hospital), I decided to move up Father's Day and treat myself to a new drone.  The best DJI drone available today (other than my hospitalized Mavic 2 Pro) is the Air 2S.  It's only been out for a few months and everyone is raving about it.  It does have the nice camera with 1 inch senor which will make most drone photographers very happy.  This skyline sunrise picture is the first picture taken with it.  I am really liking this drone and all the features it has to offer.  The Smart Photo mode is getting a lot of my attention as the photos captured in this mode are great, at least in my opinion.  Normally I shoot AEB 3 photos, which I then merge in post prior to editing.  I experimented by capturing the same scene using the Smart photo option followed by the AEB option.  After typical post edits, the Smart photo looked as good and in some cases better than the final AEB photo. Not having to merge the AEB photos saves me a little time, which is always good.  One "gripe" I do have is that the aperture is fixed at f/2.8.  This means that exposure is controlled by the shutter speed and ISO, which both can be manually set.  Capturing the "starburst" effect coming off of a sunset or sunrise is going to be tough, perhaps not possible.  I have tried several times, and no luck so far, but I haven't given up yet. Not the end of the photography world and of course I knew the aperture details before buying the drone.  This is where Mavic 2 Pro shines with its wide range of aperture settings, and f/11 comes in really handy when hunting for that starburst effect. 

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Today is May 31, 2021 - Started building this website late this morning.

It all started with this Instagram photo on March 12, 2021.  I created my Instagram account almost 9 years before then (July 7, 2012) and wasn't sure what exactly to do with it.  I was new to Instagram and certainly not into it.  I posted maybe half a dozen of cheesy photos during those 9 years, which I have recently deleted.  In January 2019 I got my first drone (DJI Mavic 2 Pro) and started flying shorty after that. Technically it was my second drone because the cheep one that my wife got me a month earlier only lasted one flight and is still parked on top of a tall tree in Aurora, CO .  Right off the bat I was really into drone videography and not so much drone photography.  I actually enjoyed editing the videos more than I did flying the drone and shooting the videos.  To this day I don't dislike flying the drone, but I still get a little nervous while flying.  You just never know what can happen way up there, and the drone could just fall out of the sky, hence why is it's so important to follow all FAA drone rules and regulations.  The best part about flying a drone for me is when I am finished and think that I got some good shots, and off to LightRoom I go.  Back onto the subject - I started posting my drone videos on YouTube but they really never took off.  I think this is due to YouTube being more about the "How To" videos, rather than "Oh look at my cool drone video".  Also, with most videos (especially the "Oh look at my cool drone video" kind) the person watching the video must spent at least a few seconds before they start to realize that the video is worth watching further.  Getting people to spend a few seconds on a drone video is hard these days, really hard.  Also, most videos get edited to music which may or may not end up being liked by the person watching the video.  In a nutshell, getting "Oh look at my cool drone video" followers is really hard.  Drone or land photography are much different when compared to corresponding videography.  The person looking at the photo is going to like or not like it, pretty much instantaneously.  Also, there is no music with photos, hence no worries about the music not being up to the viewer's taste.  Without a doubt, getting photography followers is much, much, much easier then videography followers. With that in mind, I decided to give photography a good try.  I knew I would like it because to me just like with videos, the idea is to capture your subject that you appreciate, and hopefully your final capture will make others appreciate the subject as well.  Let it be a cars, buildings, sunsets, sunrises, shorelines, skylines, people, animals, bugs, trees or flowers, etc. -- you name it.  Earth is a beautiful place with countless beautiful objects, creatures and critters roaming all over it.

Well all that being said, on March 12, 2021 I decided to start a new hobby - photography, and posted this drone photo on Instagram.  I shot and posted a few iPhone photos of my cars just prior to this photo, but without a doubt, it was this photo that started it all.  80 days, 900 followers later I am having a blast with this new hobby.  Let's see where this journey takes me next...

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