Saturday, April 29, 2017

Different Views

The question I had was: Can I get a good photograph by pointing a GoPro Hero3+ down from my airplane.  First some background.

I fly a 1946 Stinson 108, which is a great airplane for doing slow aerial photography.  Major reasons are that it is slow, and it is very stable. There is a reason it was called a Station Wagon, it flies like a station wagon drives.  It's a great airplane for doing sight seeing from the air.

However, when I have approached doing photography from this airplane, it was difficult to get downward views because the wing struts would get in the way. So I always shot oblique shots from the window, which opens by the way. 

I decided to try an experiment: Attach a GoPro Here 3+ to the strut pointing straight downward. Set the GoPro to take a photo every 5 seconds. Then fly to places I thought would make good photographs.

In order to pull this off, I wanted to reduce glare as much as possible, but I didn't have a good idea of where there glare would be coming from. I attached a circular polarizer to the GoPro, and didn't really adjust it. It would reduce the glare from some direction, but it wouldn't increase it from any direction. I figured that was a win.

The GoPro was attached to my strut using a CloudBase Engineering mount, the Filter was attached using FotoDiox modifications, and I took off from Watsonville Airport

Most of the time it was just flying looking for interesting things to take a photo with.  Since the GoPro was set to take a photograph every 5 seconds, I aligned myself to be flying over for at least 5 seconds.  It's a gamble on exactly how it would turn out.

I knew that Elkhorn Slough had some interesting patterns feeding the main river, so I flew there last as I was coming in to the landing pattern at the airport.  The small tributaries in the photo make it almost an abstract fractal design.

All in all, it worked out well.  Every 5 seconds seems to be a reasonable interval, though with a larger memory card every 1 second would work better. Depends on how much time I want to spend culling photos.

Obviously this could be done with a drone, to a point. These photos were taken from 1500 feet above the ground, drones are not supposed to fly that high.  For me, doing this from an airplane makes much more sense, especially since I already own the airplane and have the correct training.

I look forward to experimenting more with this, and branching out where I photograph from the sky.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Computer upgrades

I was shopping around for a new computer solution, one that would allow me to handle most of my computer needs. I have a mid-2011 Mac Mini, i5, with 16 gig memory. For the most part, that handles my computer power fairly well. It does fall down on the job in graphics, being very slow with the onboard Intel graphics chip.

So I knew I wanted to go to native 4k, and 30 bit color if available. Currently there are very few 30 bit color solutions on Mac. There may be some in the future if you believe MacRumors, but nothing coming down the line soon.

I also wanted to get a better GPU performance out of the system.

In the end, I decided to keep the computer i have, and I purchased a BizonBox2s from BizonTech with the NVidia Titan X Maxwell card. Yes, I probably could have put together the external PCI-e box myself with the graphics card, but I am willing to spend the money to have someone else handle that and give me a warranty. And it seems to work fairly well.

I am able to run X-Plane (a flight simulator) at 30 fps in 4k at highest detail. Prior to this point I was only able to run 30 fps in 1k and mediocre detail. It's nice to see car lights on the road at night when you're virtually flying :) It makes using Blender much faster, so I can model pretty much in real time rather than needing to wait for the screen to updatrre.

And, the integration was good. Other than needing to change OS-X security settings, difficult when you have a wireless keyboard, their activation software worked very well. It took the time to download the drivers, set them up, and now I can plug my thunderbolt 1 port into the BizonBox2s and my 4k monitor into the GPU. It works. The screen doesn't show up immediately when I boot, it takes a little more time. If I had 4 displays, I could run them all on this one card. And, I can use the same card for my Macbook Pro, my Macbook Air, and Mac Mini. Since they can all connect via the thunderbolt port.

I understand that most high-end NVidia cards support 30-bit color when using DirectX, but not OpenGL. I am hopeful that will get resolved in the near future.

The only real problem I have found is that when I shut down there is sometimes a kernel panic. I suspect that will get worked out. Well, the other problem is that my cat wants to try to sit on it. It's just not wide enough for her.
A minor annoyance is that I can't use the pass-through port on the BizonBox2s, and it has to be directly attached to the Mac Mini. I can live with that.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Combining Blogs

I had 2 other blogs that I posted to rarely, a blog about flying and a blog about my car that I have been rebuilding for a long time.  Those blogs have been deleted, and this one blog will cover all of them.

Basically, I'm only one person, and while Moffet Images is mostly about photography, I will be talking about more than that here.

Happy New Year.