Photo of Mustard Flowers From My New DJI Mavic Pro Drone

I just upgraded from my DJI Phantom 2 V+ drone to a DJI Mavic Pro. The P2V+ served me well for the last 2-1/2 years. However, its embedded technology and software was outdated. The clincher was that its Wi-Fi transmitter module went bad. This is a common problem on the P2V+. It was going to cost over $300 to buy/install a new one.

After some research, I decided on the DJI Mavic Pro. It folds up quite nicely and can be carried in a modest camera bag, rather than a suite case.

Below is a photo from my second flight today. It is amazing what some rain will do. The SE side of Palos Verdes is covered with new mustard flowers as shown here. Since it is my second drone, I am pretty comfortable with it already. However, with the new technology, remote controller, and software, I have a lot to learn. I will be posting more photos and articles sharing my experiences in future posts.

Coming soon is my next Photoshop Elements 15 tutorial. So, until next time….

Drone Presentation at the South Bay Camera Club Meeting

I will be giving a presentation on how I use my DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone for photography. My Presentation will be at the next meeting of the South Bay Camera Club on February 27th. Meetings are held  at the Zamperini Field (Torrance Airport) Administration Building Meeting Room, 3301 Airport Drive, at 7 P.M. Guests are always welcome. To find out more about the club, click on the link below to view the SBCC website.

Not only will I be showing some of the photos and videos I have captured using my Phantom, I will discuss what it is like and what is involved with owning and operating a drone for the hobbyst. In the past couple of years, drones have gotten much easier to fly, and the cameras that come with them have gotten extremely good. That being said, a drone is a sophisticated system, and your learning begins as soon as you open the box.

So, if you have been thinking about buying a drone for the fun of it flying it, or to take photos you are unable to take with your earth-bound camera, come join us.


New Look for My Blog

For those of you who have visited my blog in the past, you will see that it looks a lot different. But don’t worry, everything is still here. I just felt it needed a change, and I like the black background. The current site photo was taken from my DJI Phantom drone.

One change I hope you find useful is the Archives column on the right. I have been writing this blog for some time now. This list will mak it easier for you to explore the articles you may have missed.

Also, notice the Like and Share links are more prominently displayed. I hope you will make use of them if you find the content interesting and useful.

And finally, the Comments section is easily seen. Please make use of it, starting with letting me know what you think about the new look.

Until next time…

A 3D Panorama Starting with a Video

In my last post, I outlined the steps to make a 3D panorama starting with a series of overlapping single image files. As pointed out in that post, it requires several steps after you have captured the images.

In this post, I link to a 3D panorama that started as a video that I shot while simply rotating my DJI Phantom through 360-degrees.

Shooting the video is much easier, because I do not have to worry about properly overlapping the images to be stitched. ICE handles that for me.

Of course the tradeoff is the quality or how closely you can zoom in when viewing the panorama is not as good as when the panorama is based on still images. That is because video files, even 4K videos, are no match for the still images produced by digital cameras, or even many smartphones.

Here is the link to the panorama.


It is not nearly as sharp and clear as those produced from still images. My Phantom 2 only shots HD video. New models shoot full 4K video which would significantly improve the results.

Another 3D Aerial Panorama – How I did It

In my previous post, I linked to a 3D panorama I had shot from my DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone. In this post, I am linking to a video that demonstrates how I did it. It was a multi-step process, but producing the 3D panorama only uses a couple of free Microsoft programs, which are easy to use they way I did.

By the way, my example uses a sequence of six shots that I took from my Phantom, but they could have just as easily been shot from my hand-held camera. The YouTube video does not include audio annotation to show just how easy it is to create the 3D panorama. Click on the image below to watch the demo.

ICE and Photosynth title

The panorama was shot from above yet another huge soccer complex across the street from the Silverlakes Soccer Complex in Norco/Eastvale CA. Silverlakes can be seen towards the end of the video.

2-27-17: Please note, Microsoft has removed Photosynth, so the link referred to here is no longer valid. They have provided a Photosynth Viewer, as of right now, I not determined an effective method to link the viewer with my downloaded .pano files.

I am currently reviewing alternate ways to produce and display 3D or VR panoramas. Please stay tuned.

Click on the link below to see the final 3D panorama. Using the scroll wheel on the mouse, zoom in and pan around. There is a tremendous amount of detail captured in the photo.

Silverlakes Pan Link

Please let me know in the comments below if you have used these two programs to produce your own 3D panoramas. How did they work for you? There are other programs available that can produce similar and often superior results. Have you used them?

Finally, please click on the Like and share this post with others if you think it has been helpful.

I’m Not There Yet – Not by a Long Shot

This video by Colin Smith is well beyond anything I will probably do  – ever! He flies three DJI drones at one time over the ocean off Laguna Beach, CA.

I have yet to take my Phantom 2 Vision+ that far out into the water. He flew the three at one time to compare photos from the different cameras installed on each drone. However, the video does show just how easy it is to fly one. Put into the proper mode, take your hands off of the controls, and they just hover. Very impressive.


Three Drones

Let me know what you think of this post, and its video.

Recent 360-Degree Panorama From My Drone

2-27-17: Please note, Microsoft has removed Photosynth, so the link referred to here is no longer valid. They have provided a Photosynth Viewer, as of right now, I not determined an effective method to link the viewer with my downloaded .pano files.

I am currently reviewing alternate ways to produce and display 3D or VR panoramas. Please stay tuned.

The link below is to a recent 360-degree panorama I took from my DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone. There was several steps involved to produce the VR or 3D rendering of the image.

  1. I used the Litchi app to automatically take the single row of images making up the 360 degrees.
  2. Then each of the 6 images were edited in Photoshop CC 2015 to correct for DJI camera lens, and remove some haze.
  3. Microsoft’s Image Composition Editor, ICE was used to stitch the photos together.
  4. And finally, Microsoft’s Photosynth program was used to render the 3D view shown in the link.

The Litchi app controls the drone, and making panoramas, including spherical ones is one of its more basic capabilities. There are several other programs that can do the stitching and rendering, and are supposed to do an even better job of rendering the images.

I have just begun to explore the Litchi app, and producing panoramas. I’ll post other noteworthy results here in the future.


Click on the above image to view the panorama.

If you like this post and would like to see more like it, please click on the Like button and share it on Facebook etc.