Wake-up Clayton

Drone Photography
Clayton, NY

I’m still learning about the drone. I haven’t ventured out much with this summer and that really annoys me. I should be flying that thing all over central NY, hell, anywhere I go it should be in the air. I’m hesitant to use it. Part of me is worried I’m going to crash, part of me is worried someone is going to tell me I’m not supposed to be flying it, and there is a part of me that doesn’t like the thought someone might negatively comment on my results. That part, the last part, that is the thinking I need to overcome.

I did have a blast flying it this past weekend. Rather brave of me to let it free over the water. And look, it survived! The video(s) I took still needs to be processed. They are nothing great. I’m still learning what constitutes an interesting video. I need to find that YouTube channel I was watching and learn again. And I need to practice. As soon as the rain stops… lol!

So, back to the image today. Stay on point! Say good morning to Clayton, NY. The sun was beginning to break free of the horizon, the colors were sliding from blue to orange and the sounds of the town waking up were starting to mix with the water lapping at the shore. It was a good morning to be on the St. Lawrence river…

Wake-up Clayton
DJI Air 2S, 22mm f/2.8, 1/30s, f/2.8, ISO 100

Flying Hinckley

Hinckley Reservoir and the West Canada Creek

Monday morning was a good time for a drive up to Hinckley Reservoir. I hadn’t been for a sunrise over the reservoir in over a year. I also wanted to get in a little early morning flight along the West Canada Creek. I wasn’t positive about the scenery but at least it was an open fly zone.

I started at my favorite spot next to the dam about a half hour before sunrise. The four concrete pillars in the water offer up a nice foreground subject and a bonus for me was the moon had risen about four hours earlier adding a little surprise to the morning sky. These first two images were captured with my trusty Olympus…

Olympus E-M1 Mark III, M. Zuiko 12-100mm f/4, 3.2s, 12mm, f/11, ISO 100
Olympus E-M1 Mark III, M. Zuiko 12-100mm f/4, 4s, 15mm, f/11, ISO 100

Next I broke out the drone. There is a parking area below the dam and I thought it would be good to attempt a few images and maybe a video. Still not happy with my video abilities. As much as I try the movements are very mechanical and I’m not happy with the results. I also have been struggling to find a good video editor that isn’t overly complicated but allows me to adjust the result similar to what I can do with the images.

This next set of images are actually backwards in time but show the approach to the dam along the West Canada Creek. I didn’t plan this excursion as much as I should have but I’m learning there is a different thought process needed when working with the drone. The sun only rises once a day and I can’t ask it to try again to correct my missteps.

DJI Air 2S, 22mm f/2.8, 1/160s, f/2.8, ISO 100
Hinckley on the Rise
DJI Air 2S, 22mm f/2.8, 1/30s, f/2.8, ISO 100
The Dam
DJI Air 2S, 22mm f/2.8, 1/30s, f/2.8, ISO 100

I moved down to the boat launch area which is at least a half mile below the dam. I wanted to explore the area around a smaller dam which I assume was built to divert water toward the Trenton Falls Hydroelectric Station (more research required). You can see in the last image the nearly dried creek bed below the dam. I wonder if hiking is allowed (I doubt it). It is interesting to see the difference in the color of the sky in these next images. Looking west, away from the sunrise, the colors are more magenta.

Heading West
DJI Air 2S, 22mm f/2.8, 1/50s, f/2.8, ISO 100
DJI Air 2S, 22mm f/2.8, 1/60s, f/2.8, ISO 100
Power Dam
DJI Air 2S, 22mm f/2.8, 1/60s, f/2.8, ISO 100

Harbor Lock

Barge Canal

My original plan was to drive to Utica and walk from the trail parking off Genesee St. to the harbor lock on the Barge Canal to fly the drone at sunrise. The clouds had other plans. By 6am there were glimpses of the sun trying to poke through so rather than sit on my butt all morning I packed everything in the car and took a chance I would find an interesting view.

It was a longer walk back to the lock then I remembered and I met a few people on their way back to the parking area. The sun was still trying to make its presence known but I wasn’t worried the clouds were going to give me what I was looking to capture. My new “fear” was the abundance of power lines in the area. I estimated a safe height I could fly at and still get an image or two. This was going to be interesting.

The one video I captured is not that great. The movements are very mechanical and stilted. I still might post it later. The one image I wanted to capture was a view of the lock with the canal, the harbor and hopefully Utica in the background. When I attempt this again I will try for a higher perspective…

Harbor Lock
DJI Air 2S, 23mm f/2.8, {1/160, 1/240 & 1/350s bracket}, ISO 100

Evening Flight

Drone Photography

I have been itching to get back out with the drone. Wednesday was going to be the day but I was hesitant due to the wind and my lack of experience. After talking to a friend at work who has been flying his drone for a few years I decided as long as the wind wasn’t greater than 20 mph I would give it a try, if only to learn how to control it in such conditions. I wanted to play in the Trenton Falls area along the West Canada creek, especially the Morgan’s Mill Dam section. I know, brave to be around water again, but I never said I was a smart person.

Luckily for me the drone is easy to fly. I didn’t get too crazy with it and I did end up learning more about controlling it. I played through two batteries worth of flight time (~45 minutes) and did manage to grab a few images. I still need to explore the manual controls with the camera as up to know I have left it on auto. Which, to be honest, bugs me as a photographer… LOL

I explored being a little creative with the video captures as well. That portion of the experience still needs a lot of learning on my part. I’m not as smooth with the controls as I would like and it shows in the footage I captured. I also need to find a software package I can learn that allows me to process the video like I can the images.

So, I give you a few different views of the Morgan’s Mill Dam area of Trenton Falls and the West Canada Creek. Here is a link to the video I put together (actually merged two separate clips into one output, look at me go!)…

Trenton Falls Video

Trenton Drone 1
DJI Air 2S, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/40s, ISO 100
Trenton Drone 2
DJI Air 2S, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/40s, ISO 100
Trenton Drone 3
DJI Air 2S, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/40s, ISO 100
Trenton Drone 4
DJI Air 2S, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/40s, ISO 100
Trenton Drone 5
DJI Air 2S, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/40s, ISO 100

Morning Take-Off

Drone Photography

I finally jumped in on Saturday. I have been looking, researching and talking to co-workers about getting a drone for over a year. I’m not entirely sure what was holding me back. Saturday morning I decided to do it. There was some drama surrounding the purchase but eventually I ended up driving to Syracuse to pick one up. I came home with the DJI Air 2S and the Fly More bundle with its two extra batteries, six sets of blades, a carrying bag and ND filters for the camera.

I drove up to the high school my kids went to on Saturday evening to learn how to control the drone in a nice open field. Yep, I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. It took about half the battery life to get a feel for the controls (I still have a lot more practicing to do) but by the end I felt confident I could fly well enough to try some photography.

I made plans to get the sunrise along the Barge Canal on Sunday. It would only be my second flight but the Air 2S is easy to fly. I needed to drive about half way to Utica to escape the controlled airspace around Rome but it was worth it. The sun was breaking through the cloud cover and the water in the canal was s smooth as a mirror. Needless to say, I had a great time!

Morning Take-Off
DJI Air 2S, 1/160, 8.4mm, f/2.8, ISO 100

I also capture a 30+ second video of the flight down the canal. Most of Sunday morning was finding a video editor and learning how to use (barely!). I think there is a lot more I can do with editing but that will come with time…

I do not have a plan for this site that allows videos but here is the link to it on my website: