Cornforth Images

Category Archives: Drone

Carate Sunset Aerial 1

Carate Sunset Aerial 1

Posted by Jon Cornforth on January 29, 2016

This past November, I traveled to Costa Rica for the first time. My main ambition was to explore a few different locations in order to photograph wildlife, but I also brought along one of my drones to shoot aerials. One of my first stops was the wild and remote Osa Peninsula which is home to Corcovado National Park. Often labeled one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, its wildlife includes scarlet macaws, tapirs, jaguars and squirrel monkeys. I saw a lot of amazing wildlife, but I only nibbled at the edge of the park. I rented a place close to Puerto Jimenz, but drove all the way to the end of the dirt road to Carate Beach one afternoon. This quiet and isolated setting had the Pacific Ocean on one side and impenetrable jungle on the other. The only way to really photograph it was from the air. I created this image while flying my Sony a5000 camera and Sony 16mm f2.8 lens on my custom-built 550 quadcopter. I processed the RAW file using Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC 2015, and Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Polihale Beach Sunset Aerial 1

Polihale Beach Sunset Aerial 1

Posted by Jon Cornforth on February 10, 2015

Last summer, I flew my drone above Polihale Beach on Kauai but did not create the image that I was hoping for. When I returned in December to try again, I was pleased to experience the ideal conditions which lead to this photograph. Late in the afternoon, the wind was non-existent and the clouds boiled over the rugged cliffs of the Na Pali Coast. I prepared my hexacopter for its initial flight and was ready for takeoff when the sunlight began to penetrate beneath the clouds on the horizon. Though I flew as far as 300m offshore and as high as 100m in the air, this photo was created at about half that distance and elevation during my reconnaissance of the scene. I created this image with my Sony NEX 5T camera and Rokinon 12mm f2 lens on my Tarot 680Pro hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC 2014, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Popular Photography February 2015 Nature By Drone Article

Popular Photography February 2015 Nature By Drone Article

Posted by Jon Cornforth on February 9, 2015

My most recent article “Nature by Drone” is published in this month’s issue of Popular Photography. In my article, I share what it takes to build and fly larger remote controlled multirotors that can lift cameras that are larger than a simple GoPro. My drone imagery is featured throughout the article, but there are also several images from other professional photographers who are incorporating drones into their work. I finish by discussing some of the legal and ethical considerations that every pilot needs to know before taking off.

The double page opening image is an aerial that I created while flying my hexacopter over Puu Pehe on Lanai’s south shore last winter. I created this image by flying my Canon EOS M camera, Canon 11-22mm lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, on my Tarot 690S hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Nooksack River Channels Aerial 2

Nooksack River Channels Aerial 2

Posted by Jon Cornforth on October 28, 2014

It has taken me almost 6 months to make peace with this image and process it. Of course, a little backstory is required after a statement like that.

When I started building and flying my own drones last year, I was motivated to photograph interesting aerial abstracts during my travels without having to hire an airplane. I scoured Google Earth for interesting topography and then set out to photograph it. One of the locations where I envisioned flying my hexacopter to produce an image was above the mudflats where the Nooksack River flowed into Bellingham Bay. The satellite views showed an intricate network of braided channels that I thought looked like a painting.

So, back to the difficult part about processing this image. On my second attempt to fly over this landscape, I had secured a permit from the Lummi tribe to walk out on the mudflats. My dad joined me on a gorgeous day in May with ideal flying conditions. I was feeling confident and flew my drone farther and higher than I had ever flown before (roughly 600m out and 100m up) to compose this image. On my second flight of the day, my hexacopter unfortunately experienced a sudden and rapid descent into the terrain below. Ouch. I could see that my hexacopter was sticking out of the water, so after a lot of effort to reach it I recovered it. The submersion damaged most of the electronics and flooded my camera, but at least the memory card was recoverable and the SuperX flight controller is waterproof. Upon reviewing the blackbox data, I discovered that the reason for the crash was a loss of power to one of my motors which upon inspection showed a poor solder connection which I blame on the Chinese manufacturer.

I hope that you agree that this is an exciting application of technology used to produce a beautiful image. I just wish that it had not cost as much as it did to rebuild my drone and then there is the bigger bruise to my self-confidence. I created this image by flying my Canon EOS M camera, Canon 11-22mm lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, on my Tarot 690S hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Coleman Glacier Sunset Aerial 3

Coleman Glacier Sunset Aerial 3

Posted by Jon Cornforth on September 12, 2014

I hiked up to the Coleman Glacier on Mount Baker several times over the past month hoping to fly my remote controlled hexacopter. Earlier this week, all the conditions that I had hoped for finally aligned. The clouds suddenly and dramatically parted just as the sun set on the western horizon and there was almost no wind. I only had a few minutes to get in the air above the glacier and photograph this dramatic perspective. I created this image with my Sony NEX 5T camera and Rokinon 12mm f2 lens on my Tarot 680Pro hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC 2014, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

 

Outdoor Photographer September 2014 Drone Article

Outdoor Photographer September 2014 Drone Article

Posted by Jon Cornforth on August 22, 2014

My regular readers are probably aware that over the past year I have been building and flying remote controlled hexacopters in order to create dramatic aerial photos. In this month’s issue of Outdoor Photographer, I share some of my advice from the lessons I have learned from flying a drone capable of lifting a larger camera. The opening images showcase one of my aerial images of Lumahai Beach on Kauai, as well as my previous Canon EOS M camera mounted on my gimbal beneath my Tarot 690S hexacopter. After my crash in early May, I rebuilt using a Tarot 680Pro frame and am now flying a Sony NEX 5 camera body. I hope that readers will enjoy my latest article and find inspiration from what I have have been doing.

Kee Beach Sunset Aerial 1

Kee Beach Sunset Aerial 1

Posted by Jon Cornforth on May 22, 2014

I flew my hexacopter almost every day during my recent trip to Kauai, including at Kee Beach my last two sunsets. I have previously photographed the Na Pali Coast from the shoreline rocks on the far right of this image, but this time I flew my copter from the flat heiau hidden just above. Not only was this a perfect landing zone, but I had it all to myself. I find that it is much too distracting and dangerous to fly around people. I lucked out that there was almost no wind and the sun kept poking through the clouds to illuminate the scene. Dappled light underneath dark clouds is my favorite landscape photography situation. I digitally removed the tiny dots of people on the beach and snorkeling in the water, but also kept the original for my editorial clients. I created this image by flying my Canon EOS M camera, Canon 11-22mm lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, on my Tarot 690S hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Makena Beach Aerial 1

Makena Beach Aerial 1

Posted by Jon Cornforth on April 10, 2014

Last year, I resolved to learn to build and fly remote controlled multirotor copters in order to create dramatic landscape images from a unique angle. It took me a little while longer than I had expected, but I am very happy with the types of photos that I am now creating. This aerial view of Makena Beach on Maui is a beautiful example of what is possible by merging this astonishing technology with my creative vision. Sure, I’ve seen aerial images of Makena over the years that were photographed from a small plane, but what is exciting to me is that I did both the flying and the photography myself. My hexacopter was hovering about 300m out and 100m up from where I took off when the setting sun briefly shined underneath the clouds to illuminate the entire scene. This is also my edited version of this photo, because I digitally removed the tiny dots of naked people on Little Beach. I created this image by flying my Canon EOS M camera, Canon 11-22mm lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, on my Tarot 690S hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

La Perouse Bay Shoreline Aerial 3

La Perouse Bay Shoreline Aerial 3

Posted by Jon Cornforth on April 9, 2014

I’ve been back home for a few weeks now and barely flown my hexacopter. The one day that I did fly, I was amazed at how much the cooler weather shortened my battery life, and thus flight times. When I flew over La Perouse Bay on Maui a few weeks ago, I was conservatively reaching 10 minutes each flight. This beautiful lava shoreline and reef image was created by flying over 400m out and 50m up from the parking lot at the end of the road. It takes my hexacopter less than a minute to reach this distance and altitude. I then hover it in place and move it around to experiment with different compositions. I was especially drawn to the X shape of the shoreline surrounded by the turquoise water. I created this image by flying my Canon EOS M camera, Canon 11-22mm lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, on my Tarot 690S hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Puu Pehe Aerial 2

Puu Pehe Aerial 2

Posted by Jon Cornforth on March 26, 2014

Now that I have been successfully flying my hexacopters during my recent travels, I am trying to move beyond the novelty of flying and back to focusing on creating beautiful images. I am especially excited about returning to my favorite landscape subjects and exploring them from this new perspective. This aerial image of Puu Pehe, or Sweetheart Rock, on the south shore of Lanai is a perfect example of the possibilities that I am achieving. I launched my copter from the top of the cliffs on the left, then flew it approximately 200m out and 25m above the ocean to compose this dramatic scene. When I say compose, I do mean compose. While flying my copter, I am viewing the Live View from my camera via a wireless transmitter on my 5″ LCD screen. Once I decide to hover my copter in a particular location, I then remotely trigger the camera to take a picture. Of course, I am still looking for all of the normal compositional elements that I would if I were using a tripod to take a picture, including wave action, dramatic light, and dynamic clouds. I created this image by flying my Canon EOS M camera, Canon 11-22mm lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, on my Tarot 690S hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.