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Archive for January, 2016

Drone wiring diagram


To help show what’s involved in building a “drone” to carry a flying camera, I’ve put together this complete wiring diagram showing all the components and how they are connected up.
While the overall diagram may look overwhelming to many initially, once you break it down into it’s smaller components and sections it becomes easier to understand and build the craft. The main skill required is soldering. And patience – lots of it.
Still waiting on my props before I can test fly.

The F550 Y6 Tricopter rebuild with Sony RX100 III and G40 gimbal has been moved to a new seperate page on HERE, where there is much more information about the build and this diagram for those interested.

Project 2 – themes

I’ve had a real battle deciding on a theme for Project 2 of the Photography and Social Media University course. I normally take photos as opportunity presents itself in front of me, not usually with a particular purpose in mind. I had plenty of ideas, but I had trouble settling on one. Several ideas flowed and a few opportunities presented themselves – like the trip to Bruny Island where I got a good ten shots, I find old buildings intriguing – and chimneys and little detail on buildings – particularly around Hobart, there’s a few crackers about if you pay attention that most people would fail to see. Mt Wellington/kunanyi is on my back door and presents endless opportunities – waterfalls etc. If you look at my recent photos on Flickr you can see some examples.
I took quite a few very sad shots of roadkill recently which I won’t post, though they make an emotive subject and challenge the viewer, I find them somewhat gruesome and extremely confronting. And of course, the drone which I’m building.

Then it happened. The spark in my head went POP with a thought I couldn’t ignore. What better subject for a “Photography and Social Media” course, than – photography and social media!!!
Most of us have an electronic device in our pockets. It invades much of our daily lives without us even realising it. Sometimes we ignore what’s right in front of us and around us, even people sitting right next to us, to stare at a small screen and interact or share stuff with people and things somewhere else via pixels. How absolutely bizare!
1324I don’t normally take photos of people so this subject challenges me to hesitantly wander out of my comfort zone to get the shots I am looking for. Fortunately, people are often so engrossed in their little electronic device that they are oblivious to someone taking their picture, even from quite close.
I began exploring this idea around Salamanca Market and am so far extremely pleased with the results. These ten photos were taken over two Saturday’s.  None of these shots have been set up or posed for in any way.
These guys are looking so intense at their phones while the girl lying down is ignored. I will continue to try and capture situations as they present themselves for this theme over the next few weeks and see what happens before selecting the final ten for submission.
Most of these shots have been cropped with the “guideline” of thirds in mind, but when you explore and look around them as in the shot above, you will see people in the background – on their phones.
I’m not even sure what this lady blending in with the crowd was capturing, clearly not the performer.DSC01118
I took several shots from this spot, but chose this particular one because the singer looks like he’s trying to get the otherwise occupied “crowds” attention. You simply can’t compete against a hand held electronic device, even if you have a guitar.
Some of the content in the Uni course has focused on looking at other’s work for inspiration. While I sometimes randomly browse Flickr at what others are doing and occasionally try similar techniques, I prefer to come up with my own ideas and approach to photography. I have deliberately not sought out what others are doing on this subject.
All these photos were taken with the Sony RX100III in RAW format. While it has a 70mm zoom lens, I had to get quite close to the subject in many instances. It’s small size and flip up LCD screen is a great advantage in not looking too obvious allowing you to get more candid shots.
While I absolutely agree privacy is a concern, legally – if you are in a public place, anyone can photograph you without asking permission. Nowdays, almost anywhere you go within a city, surrounding area or building, you will be photographed. Big brother is watching!
And people are worried about “drones”?

Looking at these images, one has to ask the question: is it social media, or anti-social media?

I will publish these photo’s on my Tumbler account over the next few days.

The new tripod ..

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After an almost complete rebuild it’s now ready for launch – when some new props arrive.
Some initial testing will be required and I may need to change some configurations but I’m hoping to get enough shots before the Photography and Social Media course deadline to use this as my theme for Project 2.

Technical information: DJI F550 flame-wheel frame with Aimdroix extended arms, iFlight G40 gimbal, GentWIRE-MULTI  remote controlled Sony RX100 III camera, NazaM V2 flight controller with iOSD (On Screen display providing in-flight information live from the craft), F12E controller with First Person View. 6600 mAh battery, expected flight time around 12 minutes.
AUW: 2.5kg, Motor centres: 56cm apart. Top props 9443, bottom props 1145 – this may change depending on efficiency.

Playing with light

A couple more selfies I hadn’t edited yet. I decided not to submit my Project 1 selfies last Friday as I still have a few ideas to play with.
Using a single light source and trying a few different angles, I’ve post processed the following images using different methods in Photoshop. I’ve deliberately kept them dark and minimalist with lots of negative space. This goes against my usual editing style where, depending on the photo and subject, I try to recapture as much information from the highlights and shadows – as can be seen throughout my Flickr feed.
They’re both cropped using the rule of thirds onto my left eye. I prefer the first one, I feel it has a movie quality about it. I’ve added quite a bit of clarity, where as the second I took it away to make it softer. It is also cooler – more blue and to me conveys more emotion or action, like something is about to happen.

Both were edited from RAW images from the Sony RX100 M3.
Of all the camera’s I’ve owned, this has quickly become my favourite. Light weight, takes great quality images and is so vertatile.
I’m off for a bushwalk tomorrow. It will be nice to not have to lug 8+ kg around to get a decent shot.

1072 Workbench

After a few late nights over a hot soldering iron and tying seemingly endless zip ties – my new best friend, I have the RX and gimbal fully functional on my UAV along with all the other electronics. It’s now ready to fly again, just waiting on some propellers to arrive …

Project 1 submission

I did some re-cropping and final editing in Photoshop on some selfies but only chose to submit four for peer critique in the Utas forum.

Content and Context (what is in the images and why did I make them)
Being a “Selfie” project, I’ve put myself in the following images. I tired to show various aspects to my personality through them with a mix of personal and professional shots taken during my activities over the past few weeks. I particularly enjoyed playing with reflections which is apt given a selfie is a reflection of how you present yourself to the world.
I’ve cropped them all square so that they can be used as avatars for various social media, only some would be suitable to be used in a round format such as Google+ as I’m not in the middle. Some are clearly of me, some are deliberately obscure, hiding my identity but still revealing a little about me.
Enclave: Situated in my “man-cave”, a place I’ve built where I work, tinker and relax, I wanted to appear almost part of the room – not standing out too obviously so the viewer is more inclined to browse at all the things around the room, witch include many of my hobbies and passions to show what I’m capable of in a professional manner.
493 Enclave
Composition and technique: It’s quite a dimly lit space, I used a tripod mounted high, pre-focused and a 10 second timer with the Sony RX100M3 – and ran backwards and forwards taking about 20 shots with various poses. I tried to capture myself at my computer looking relaxed and in control of the relative chaos around me. I’ve edited this photo based on some of the feedback provided in an earlier forum post. I’ve re-cropped it square with the border fading to black to contain it, my eyes are central horizontally in the image but I’m deliberately less than 1/3 from right into the shot so I’m not overpowering everything else (kind of an anti-rule of thirds). I’ve pumped up the colour a bit, but reduced the highlights on the monitors which were previously overpowering.
Eye Selfie: A professional selfie, I wanted to capture my reflection in my own eye. I had in mind to just use my eye, but including part of the camera says a little more about me.
Selfie2 eyesD

Composition and technique: My eye is centered horizontally with my reflection 1/3 top so it is the focus of the image. To enhance this, in photoshop I sharpened my eye and blurred gradually out so it looked like I had taken it with a small apeture – I didn’t as it was hard to get my eye in focus in the mirror. I created a second layer, made the top one mono, deleted the area of my iris so the colour one would show through. It took a lot of experimenting with the mono area to get it soft enough, yet enough contrast to not look threatening. I used the dodge and burn tools to reduce some shadows around wrinkles, bags under the eyes and in the corner, the shadow from my brow without getting rid on any imperfections completely.
Lens Selfie: Born from an epiphany, this photo exceeded my expectations. A professional selfie based on my love of photography, I’m shown reflected in the layers of glass in the lens of my Nikon.

Selfie4 LensC

Composition and technique: Taken with my Sony RX100M3, I placed my Nikon camera facing up on a table outside so there would only be sky behind me and shot it hand held at an angle so you could not see the RX100 – only me. It took probably 10 shots to get this – with the upside down image of me bang in focus – what would be captured by the camera’s sensor – this was a real surprise to me. I’ve center cropped it further than previously here to really get the detail inside the lens, it also makes it more abstract. I despeckled it as there was some noise, sharpened it, intensified the colours, increased the contrast and adjusted the levels again. You tend to see a lot more the second time you edit an image.
Lighthouse Selfie:  During a day trip to Bruny Island with the family, I took this photo of me reflected in a window of the Cape Bruny Lighthouse with my Sony RX100 M3.
I particularly like the depth and layers in this image with the spiral staircase and window inside and the reflections on the window showing dramatic clouds outside, bordered by the tattered window frame.
A lot can be read into this image and is the reason I took it. Perhaps a metaphor for how we can only see certain parts of a person by what bits of their selves they choose to share with others during given moments of time. The damaged window frame could represent external scars, but there are dark or unknown places inside the viewer can’t see. We’re all connected by the helix of DNA, all going somewhere and have probably weathered a few storms but can be too quick to judge others without knowing their full story.
For that reason it is one of my favourites, though I don’t feature prominently.


Composition and technique: I sat the RX100 on the window sill to get the best angle – it was a little awkard as it was a bit high so I took several shots – I was trying to exclude the camera yet still get me with the storm clouds behind and the lighthouse interior.
I’ve cropped it more for what’s around the edges than any “rules” – the space is even between the window corners, the damaged frame and I’ve come down almost onto the window at top. It has been selectively edited in photoshop to enhance the storm cloud reflection while retaining what little detail is in my face.
Project 1 editing: Can I submit 4? It’s a tough choice on which one to drop. If I have to, it would likely be the enclave one as more thought and creativity went into the others.
I also like that the have a theme of reflection in them – and a selfie reflects who we are, or rather, who we want to present to the viewer!

Below are two more images I further edited but did not submit for critique:

Selfies for Utas …

I haven’t had a chance to catch up on the Uni course notes for a while, but I’ve taken a few shameless selfies during my daily activities over the last few days. The following images have had mild manipulation in Photoshop, generally adjusting levels, vibrance, contrast, white balance and the like. I’ve cropped them square to show how they could be used as an avatar.
1038LighthouseSelfieDuring a day trip to Bruny Island with the family, I took the photo above of me reflected in a window of the Cape Bruny Lighthouse with my Sony RX100 M3.
I particularly like the depth and layers in this image with the spiral staircase and window inside and the reflections on the window showing dramatic clouds outside, bordered by the tattered window frame.
A lot can be read into this image and is the reason I took it. Perhaps a metaphor for how we can only see certain parts of a person by what bits of their selves they choose to share with others during given moments of time. The damaged window frame could represent external scars, but there are dark or unknown places inside the viewer can’t see. We’re all connected by the helix of DNA, all going somewhere and have probably weathered a few storms but can be too quick to judge others without knowing their full story.
For that reason it is one of my favourites, though I don’t feature prominently.

1063 GBMan
The image above is perhaps more a professional “selfie”. There is another me – I’m also a real life gingerbread man! My wife and I own Tasmanian Gingerbread and have a stall at Salamanca Market. While my wife does the cooking, I run around like a gingerbread man does, getting ingredients, making deliveries and doing technical and design things like fix equipment, PC’s, design our branding and packaging and maintain the online store I created –
The gingerbread man on our car got rather muddy running around Bruny Island, but he had lots of fun 😛
The shot above was taken with my Sony RX100M3 using 1.8 apeture to minimise focal distance for dramatic effect and and 24mm lens to deliberately increase distortion.

231 SelfieChooks
I’m a bit of a night owl, often staying up till 2am tinkering in my “man-cave” on drones or PC related stuff, so I don’t often get up very early, except Saturdays, for our Salamanca Market stall.
Last Saturday morning around 6am, I snapped off a few quick casual selfies using my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone’s screen side camera during “the golden hour”. The shot above was just before the sun peeped over the hill while feeding my chickens. Considering I caught about 3 hours sleep, I think I scrubbed up reasonably well.

532 Selfie Supernova
While playing with the early morning sun as back lighting, I caught this shot just for fun and I quite like it. My brain went SUPERNOVA!! Three hours sleep will do that apparently.

605 Selfie FernsAM
This was more my original intention, “golden hour” back lighting through the ferns.  In Photoshop, I used the Shadows/Highlights sliders to recover some detail in the highlights and shadows before adjusting the levels and colour balance. I think my eyes look a little agressive or intense, they were probably trying to close themselves – and I was in a hurry, the wife was waiting to go 😉 And perhaps I should have a shave.

324 Selfie F550
I thought as part of this project, I would also post what I consider a failed attempt at a selfie to show some of my experimentation.
I was trying to use the pink sunset lit sky in the background while taking a selfie holding my rebuilt drone. Clearly the RX100 was in use so I used the smaller screen side camera on my phone, which clearly wasn’t up to the job. Unfortunately using that camera, I can’t use HDR or the flash for fill lighting. The ambient light was already pretty dim, added with backlighting from the sky has resulted in a grainy image with not much detail. I tried to rescue it in Photoshop as much as I could but the detail just isn’t there. I took about 12 shots and this was, um, the best.

I haven’t been back onto the UTas forum for some time, I know I need to post a few shots for others to critique as well as provide some feedback myself. I’m hoping to get a chance to fully engage again during the next week.


Rebuilding my tripod …

Slightly off present selfie topics from the Photography and Social Media Uni course, however this will be of great benefit in my future aerial photograpic endevours, so I hope it counts for something.

The final parts that I ordered back in November for my F550 “drone” or UAV arrived, so I’ve been busy almost completely rebuilding it when opportunity arises, usually late at night.
338 cameras weight
The reason, I wish to carry a much better – and heavier camera, the Sony RX100M3 and G40 gimbal which means I need to trim as much weight elsewhere from the craft. I plan on also rebuilding and modifying some parts of the new gimbal to make it lighter.
024 F550 HexThe original F550 kit which I built is a Hexacopter – it has 6 plastic arms with a single motor on each.
923 Arms WeightI’ve been busy installing new, longer  lighter weight aluminium arms, but instead of six arms, I’ve reduced it to three, with a motor mounted top and bottom of each. This configuration is called a Y6.
817 inside electronics Hex
The internal electronics for the old HEX setup had been added to over time and became, well, a little untidy.
957 inside electronics Y6As I had to resolder the E300 ESC’s (Electronic Speed Controllers) to pair them up for the new configuration, I also changed the layout, tidied things up and reduced as much weight as I could, almost rebuilding it completely.
519 F550 Y6
This has resulted in a much lighter craft around 1kg as seen here, which should be more stable in wind and also more agile, allowing my to carry the heavier camera and retain flight times of around 15 minutes with an all up weight around 2kg.
I have ordered some larger propellers which should improve efficiency and hopefully increase flights to 18-20 mins – or allow me to put a smaller, lighter battery to trim weight further.
I still have the camera and gimbal wiring to finish and figure out the best way to attach it – along with some legs.