Drone diaries/ Photoessay: Over Iceland

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I’m going to start this post with a confession: I lost/crashed a drone during the making of these, which is why there’s no video of me flying through the sea arch at Hellnar, or of that double sided beach where the waves pound a narrow strip of rocks. (I do have the stills from the Hasselblad though, which I’ll post in the near future.) Feeling confident after the flight low over the surf and through the arch, I went a bit further out to sea to do a flyby of the coastal cliffs, and an orbit of a sea stack. Mistake number one: I wasn’t high enough, and the signal was looking a bit ropey. That should probably have been enough of a clue that something was going to go wrong. Mistake number two: I underestimated the winds between the cliffs and the rocks – and there’s not really any way to judge wind speed remotely, other than sponginess of controls and lack of manoeuvring overhead as the bird uses more and more of its available reserve power to fight the wind. Mistake number three: I was flying sideways so the gimbal and camera would be pointed in the correct position to film, which meant that I didn’t really have much idea of what was behind me (the Mavic doesn’t have rearward or sideways sensors). What I surmise happened is that I got too close to the cliffs behind me, and a gust of wind did the rest. Game over.

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On Assignment: Above and Beyond – a collaboration with Koenigsegg

Above and Beyond: Ming Thein x Hasselblad x Koenigsegg from Ming Thein on Vimeo.

This one has been some time in the making – planning started at the beginning of the year, with the shoot in May to balance weather and sunset/sunrise times, for release only now – today’s video and post is a taste of what goes into a production of this size. Please click the link above to watch it in full 4K glory.

In a nutshell, the concept is pretty simple – but as far as I can tell, unique to date – long exposures, cars, aerial perspective, twilight, Swedish locations for a Swedish car and camera, high speed sync flash to freeze. It is a way of visually describing the journey: the light trails are the past, the history, and the future; they’re not smooth because there are bumps in the road and and paths can diverge significantly due to small changes in causality*. The clearly frozen car is the here and now, and the moment we should be enjoying: it’s the immediate manifestation of the present, with viscerally clear details. The past and the context fade and blur away, dtails blurred by the biased lens of memory. After a little discussion with Christian von Koenigsegg and his team – they bit, and we were in business. Since we were going for the best of the best all around – the only choice was to use the flagship H6D-100c and DJI M600, of course.

*Physics reference.

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Drone diaries: Watch out, he’s got an aircraft…

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“Oh no, he’s gone and done it now…”

For a long time, I resisted. For two reasons: firstly, the flight technology hasn’t quite matured to the point that I’m comfortable enough with my own flying abilities to not crash or injure something or destroy the aircraft; secondly, the camera quality really wasn’t worth bothering with – especially when you’re used to something with let’s say, a little larger sensor. The first problem has recently been solved; the current generation of consumer-level drones packs so much guidance technology in (GPS positioning, radar, obstacle avoidance cameras, subject tracking and recognition cameras etc., inertial navigation gyros) that it’s really quite difficult to crash or hit something: it just won’t let you, unless you decide to turn all of the aids off. The second has also been solved to some degree, though not in the Mavic Pro I’ve started flying recently.

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