Multicopters deconstructed

Getting into the configuration phase of building Cerberus, my Y6 multicopter.

Getting into the configuration phase of building Cerberus, my Y6 multicopter.

In a previous blog (linked here), I discussed some of the safety issues and considerations involved in getting into drone photography. In this blog, I’ll go over some of the parts that make up the drone and what they do.  Continue reading

“So kids, you want to be a drone pilot?”

DSC07855That’s the favorite phrase of my good friend Parker Gyokeres, usually when something goes horribly wrong, which is pretty frequent when you’re dealing with the “electronic divas with bipolar disorder” commonly referred to as drones.

I’m not going to lie, flying remote-controlled aircraft, especially multicopters, is a LOT of fun and I’ve managed to capture some spectacular shots. It immediately adds production value to your project, and turns heads both on location and online. The thing is, there’s a lot more to it than most people realize, and a lot of things that can, and do, go wrong.  Continue reading

Behind the Scenes: A Family to Call Her Own

editor’s note: some of this is very much directed at Air Force photojournalists, but most of this should apply to most people.

It started as a personal project, a favor to an old friend and a chance to put my newfound photojournalism skills to good use. The end goal and end product changed several times from first inception, but I’m very happy with how the final product came out.

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Working with GoPro Hero3+ Footage

GoPro Hero3+ on a DJI Phantom II

GoPro Hero3+ on a DJI Phantom II © 2014 Samuel Morse

GoPros have certainly come into their own these past few years, becoming capable of high quality video from the most remote locations. This is particularly advantageous for aerial videography because the smaller and lighter a camera is, the smaller the airframe can be, and the longer it can stay in the air.

Here’s the problem though, sometimes you don’t want that fisheye “GoPro” look. It looks great for in-your-face footage of the X-Games, but not a sweeping vista as your aerial platform floats gracefully past.

This tutorial will show you how to get the most out of your GoPro so you can get near dSLR quality in most situations.

For more examples of what footage looks like using this technique, check out this video.

Dawn at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery from Samuel Morse on Vimeo.

Review of the Sony α7R

Sony α7R

Sony α7R. Photo taken with a Nikon D800 and 45mm PC-E lens. © 2014 Samuel Morse

I received my Sony α7R in the mail a little over a week ago. While I haven’t used it as extensively as I would have liked, I do think I’ve delved deep enough to offer some honest opinions on its functionality. Now, there are plenty of places like DPreview where you can get the full low-down on the specs and features, so I’m going to focus specifically on my own revelations about its functionality.

There was a reviewer who compared the α7R to the original iPhone. I think this thought is spot-on. This camera is ground-breaking and a beautiful glimpse into what the camera industry has in store for us in the future. However, it still has some serious flaws that are just enough that I don’t see this camera getting the mainstream usage future iterations might see. Still, the fact that Sony managed to cram a 36 megapixel full frame (35mm format) sensor into a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera is impressive. This means the camera is capable of image quality to rival my Nikon D800.

Let’s get started. Continue reading

Why I’ll likely be buying Sony for a while

Sony NEX-7

Sony NEX-7

Okay, so let’s get the elephant out of the room first. I’m not selling off all my Nikon gear anytime soon, and I still plan to use it extensively for high-profile shooting. In fact, the above photo was shot with my Nikon D800. That said, Sony has really piqued my interest in the past couple of years, to the point that I’m thinking that more of my personal camera gear should be Sony, not Nikon. Why? Well, there are a lot of reasons. Some of it has to do with my shooting style in my off-duty time. Some of it has to do with unique features Sony is putting in their newest cameras.  Continue reading

Behind the Scenes: Operation Christmas Drop

Operation Christmas Drop 2012 from Samuel Morse on Vimeo / YouTube.

Ever since the Operation Christmas Drop video went live, I have received a lot of questions about how I put the video together and how I managed to get the feel and emotion that permeates the video. Truth is, there were a lot of factors that played into it, a bit of help from a few key people. The factors could be grouped into the following categories (not necessarily in order of importance): the steadicam, in-flight documentation techniques, the interviews, the music and sound design, the scope and perspective of the video, and the editing.

1st Place, Video Documentary — Pacific Air Forces Media Contest
2nd Place, Multimedia — NPPA Monthly Multimedia Contest
3rd Place, Video Documentary – Air Force Media Contest
3rd Place, Multimedia Feature — Military Photographer of the Year Competition

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