Flying My Phantom Update


Well I ‘m flying my DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ about once a week now. I’m getting more comfortable, but still flying conservatively.

I tried flying it in my front yard to get a quick photo of my house from a few feet off the ground. I thought I saw 6 satellites locked in, but when I took off it flew somewhat erratically as if it was not in the GPS mode. I landed it unceremoniously  quickly as you can see in the video below.

Today I took it out again. I believe I set a personal altitude record of about 125 feet – remember I said I have been flying it conservatively. It was in the middle of the day, and I could not see the camera view image on my iPhone. I could control the camera OK, but I could not see the image. I flew any way hoping the video and images were actually being taken. Indeed they were. The glare was just too much to see them. I need to get a better sun shade for the iPhone.

The Phantom’s battery was showing only about 80% when I took off. I was just about ready to land when a quite loud intermittent beeping began. As shown in the figure below, my battery level had gone down to 20%. I also noticed that even though it is on the ground, the Altitude shows about 35 feet. I have seen other numbers like 17 feet when on the ground.

After Landing

 

Photoshop Elements 13 is Here!


As it has for the past several years in late September, Adobe has announced its latest version of Photoshop Elements, PSE 13. The program should be available very soon.

There has been some speculation that PSE 13 would be available only by subscription like the current versions of Photoshop CC and Lightroom. However, PSE 13 continues to be available in the traditional box form from retail stores.

As with most new releases, PSE 13 is an incremental improvement over last year’s PSE 12. Indeed some nice new features were added to both the Organizer and the Photo Editor modules. The look and feel of the program remains the same.

From a long term perspective, probably the most significant change to the program is that the Windows version has been converted to a 64-bit program. The Mac version of PSE has been a 64-bit program for a while now.

One of the new features that Adobe is most excited about is something they call eLive. This button appears at the very top center of both the Organizer and the Editor modules. Clicking on it, will bring up several PSE tutorials/articles from the internet. These links are dynamic and will be automatically updated periodically by Adobe.

There are several new features as usual. There are a couple of things that I wish were in this latest version, however. The PSE Slide Show Editor goes back to the Photoshop Album days well over ten years ago. Basically, it never changed. Using it you could make slide shows that made it easy to add pan and zoom effects. Additionally, you could add customizable text to your slide images. You could change the text’s style, size, color, and its position on the image or blank slide.

 

But it was built on legacy code, which was next to impossible to modify. Adobe decided to build a new Slide Show Editor from the ground up. That was no simple task. As a result the initial implementation of the rebuilt Slide Show Editor is very limited in its features and is theme based with only a few themes available. I suspect we will see its features expanded in future releases. However, for this reason, I will keep my PSE 12 around for a while.

The link below highlights some of the more notable improvements and features in PSE 13.

New PSE 13 Features 

PSE 13 Organizer Adaptive View
PSE 13 Organizer Adaptive View

For the past few years, I have maintained a table that compares the current version with previous ones. The link below shows my latest version, with the table beginning at PSE 10. Remember, PSE 11 was the version that ushered in the brand new look and feel to the program, which is maintained in PSE 13.

 PSE 13 Feature Comparison

I have worked with PSE 13 for the past several months as part of the Adobe user beta test team. The new program features certainly provide something for everyone. Whether or not you decide to update your current PSE 12 to PSE 13 is a personal choice. If you use PSE 11, you may want to give upgrading serious consideration. If you are still actively using PSE 10 or an earlier version, I think it is time for you to upgrade. You are missing out on the significant improvements made to this program over the past few years.

You can find more information about PSE 13 by clicking on the link below.

Photoshop Elements 13

In future posts I will have more to say about PSE 13 and its video editing sister, Premiere Elements 13 (PRE 13). Stay tuned.

Use Lightroom to Display Your Camera’s Focus Point


Have you ever wondered why an image is not as sharp as you would like, and wondered where exactly the camera’s focus point was located? I have plenty of times.

True, with most cameras you can see this using the right Info view button on your camera. This works well as long as the image is still on your memory card. But what about after you have uploaded the image to your computer and are editing it? The metadata in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements does not show this information.

However, if you use Lightroom 5 and shoot RAW images there is a free plug-in that does just that. I learned about this plug-in from the DIY Photography website at the ling below.

http://www.diyphotography.net/speed-workflow-free-lightroom-plugin-displays-grid-focus-points-used-camera/

Click on the image below to learn how to download, install and use the plug-in.

Focuspoints-1

 

The author says it will work on most cameras, especially Nikon or Canon cameras. He also states it may work on some JPEG images. However, it does not work on any of mine. Below is an example of what it showed for one of my images. Well at least I got a sharp image of the net.

My Example of Focuspoint

I do not use Lightroom 5 for my primary image management or editing program now. But it is plug-ins like this that could sway me to use Lightroom 5 more.

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Video Stability Demo


I am getting better and more comfortable flying my DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone. The video below demonstrates just how stable video shot with it is.

Yes, it was a calm morning, and the DJI P2+ is hovering in one spot, but it is moving about somewhat. But you would not know that from simply looking at the video. The gimbal-mounted DJI camera does an excellent job keeping the video nice and steady.

 

Flying My Phantom 2 Vision+


A few weeks ago I posted that I had ordered a dji Phantom 2 Vision+  quad-copter. It arrived a couple of weeks ago.

Phantom 2 Vision+ Unboxed
Phantom 2 Vision+ Unboxed

I went into this knowing that it was going to be a long term hobby for me.

To begin with, quad-copters that can carry a camera are not cheap. I am going to need a lot of practice to become proficient at flying mine. Based on what I have read and videos I have watched, there will be crashes along the way. Hopefully, by learning as much as I can, practicing and taking things a step at a time, mine will be in the category of rough landings.

There are videos and horror stories about these aircraft crashing, and literally flying away never to be seen again for any number of reasons.

Back to my experiences so far. It took me about a week and a half to get my first flight off. The dji Phantom I bought is basically ready to fly out of the box, but like most things I do, it proved to be a little harder for me.  It is a multi-component system including the quad-copter itself, its camera,  the remote control unit, range extender, and the real-time video display, which in my case is my iPhone with the appropriate app.

I had to update firmware on two different systems inside the quad and the RC unit etc. Doing that and studying the manuals and videos enough to convince myself I would not crash the first time up, took some time.

When the day came to make my first flight, I pre-flighted my Phantom, went to start the motors and nothing happened. After multiple run-throughs of my checklist, still not motors.

Fortunately for me, I live close to a hobby store that services Phantoms. I took my Phantom in and in two minutes they had my motors using using the exact steps I had tried, except inside the store there was no GPS lock.  I even got them going in the store myself. Feeling somewhat embarrassed I went home and started the motors up in my backyard. Again there was no GPS lock, because our neighbors have some very large trees that overhang into our yard. hat did not bother me, because I had been able to get GPS lock when I originally tried to make my first flight.

So, the next day, I again took the Phantom out for its maiden flight. Finding a large enough area where I could perform my first flight without be hampered by spectators was somewhat of a challenge. Soccer is in full swing now and there always seems to be teams practicing.

After some driving around I found a suitable site. I Went through the pre-flight checklist, including calibrating the compass and acquiring the satellites,and then attempted to start the motors for takeoff – nothing!

Now I’m really baffled. I was too embarrassed to go back to the hobby store (that was my Plan B at this point), so began analyzing the details of what I was doing, watched more videos, and got tips and hints from user forums on the internet.

To make this already long post shorter, my problem was that my motors would not start if the Phantom had sufficiently locked into a sufficient number of satellites to fly in the GPS mode, which is encouraged for beginners like me. Determining just why that was so took more studying and seeking out help.  Locking onto the GPS, was the common denominator. The motors would not start if GPS lock was obtained. As it turns out, after updating the firmware on something called the IMU in the Phantom, I needed to also recalibrate the IMU. I missed that memo.

So I finally got in my first set of flights. I took off and landed about three times during the 20 minutes or so the fully charged battery allows. I did get some video during those flights, but it doesn’t look very impressive even for a first flight.

The video clip below is from the couple flights I got in on my second fully-charged batteries. I flew out of the old Miraleste  Intermediate School that overlooks the Los Angeles Harbor and San Pedro.

Flying My Phantom- Day 2

The technical quality of the video is really quite good. The jerkiness comes from me controlling the Phantom.  When I let it hover on its own, even though it is moving about due to the breeze, the video is exceptionally stable, as you can see. Only when I somewhat manhandle the controls does it jump around a bit.

Well that’s all for now, Look for future posts as I get better at flying and learning how to take better videos and photographs.

Please don’t hesitate to leave any comments or questions you may have,  and share any videos/photos  you have taken with your quad-copter.

Simple Way to Enhance Gray Skies


Those of you that of taken my classes, know that I like to use various techniques to make the skies better than they were when I took the photo.

And in this post I’m going to explain one of the simplest ways. The results are often quite good when applied to the right photo.

The example here is of the old Nike site in Palos Verdes. You can see it was a very gray day.

Here are the steps I did in Photoshop Elements to go from the gray skies to something that looks like I probably took the photo in middle of a day sunny day.

  1. Since it’s a RAW image, I opened in Adobe Camera Raw, adjusted Contrast, Clarity and the Vibrance a bit to make the foreground have a bit more snap.
  2. I then opened it in the Expert Editor workspace in Photoshop Elements.
  3. I then selected the sky using the Quick Selection Brush, which was quite easy since the sky is such a uniform gray.
  4. I copied the Sky to its own layer using Ctrl+J.
  5. I Ctrl-Clicked on the sky thumbnail  in the layers palette so that I could get back to arching ants.
  6. I selected the selected a suitable color of light blue from the color swatch at the bottom of the  Toolbox.
  7. Using the Paint Bucket Tool, I painted the entire selected area on the Sky layer with the chosen color of blue
  8. I added a layer mask to the sky layer. This had the foreground masked out – painted black.
  9. I selected the Linear Gradient Tool with the gradient going from black to white.
  10. With the shift key held down and making sure the mask was selected on the active sky layer, I dragged the mouse from the top of the image to the bottom.

This gave me the effect that I wanted for the sky. I then flattened image, so I could save it as a JPEG.

Improved Sky - LIn Gradient

Photoshop CS5 and Camera RAW Class Preview


One of the classes I’m teaching this fall at Torrance is Photoshop CS5 and Camera RAW. The video here is a preview of how the class will work and what we will be covering.

PS CS5 Prev Screen

I experimented with a Microsoft PowerPoint add-in tool called Mix to make the video. Using it I inserted a video of me in the corner as I’m presenting the slides. Aren’t you lucky. :-)

Even though CS5 is not the latest version of Photoshop, it still has some very powerful photo editing tools and provides a great foundation for learning the basics of the program.

The class starts on Thursday, September 11th from 5:30-7:30 pm. I hope to see you in class.

Also, if you have not filled out the survey I posted, please do. It will give me a good idea of just what classes you would be interested in taking, either in a classroom environment or online. Thanks so much.

Having fun with digital photography.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 88 other followers

%d bloggers like this: