Could we live in a world without rules?

The FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate tests for understanding of hazardous attitudes. They have a list of five:

  • Macho – “Let me show you what I can do!”
    • Antidote – Taking chances is foolish.
  • Impulsivity – “Do it quickly!”
    • Antidote – Not so fast. Think first.
  • Invulnerability – It won’t happen to me.”
    • Antidote – It could happen to me.
  • Resignation – “What’s the use?”
    • Antidote – I am not helpless. I can make a difference.
  • Anti-Authority – “Don’t tell me what to do!”
    • Antidote – Follow the rules. They are usually right.

There are some who will rail against rules being an affront to our freedom, and argue that they’re “there to be broken”.

Woodstock Park Roswell

Yes there are rules that are unjustified. Someone gets in power and just doesn’t like something and then since they sit on the city council create a new ordinance or law because they don’t like something their neighbor is doing.

Rules are the essence of sport, games and puzzles – even when their entire purpose is supposedly fun. But when haven’t you seen a fan lose it when their team is called off-sides.

I teach a lot of workshops around the world and the organization I work with starts each workshop going over some of the ground rules. At the end of going over each rule the leader said, “Please don’t do anything that makes us create a new rule.”

I think we would want to encourage everyone to learn the rules so that we can all enjoy flying our drones for commercial and personal enjoyment without having someone create problem that needs a new rule.

Rules, like good policing, rely on our consent. And those that don’t have our consent can become the instruments of tyranny. So perhaps the best advice is mostly to follow rules, but always to ask why. Learn why a rule was created.

I have learned a lot this past year when I jumped onto the Drone Bandwagon. Most all the rules the FAA has created only makes it safer for all of us. In addition, it helps all of us enjoy this as a hobby and as a profession.

Water tower in Roswell, Georgia

Forced To Shoot Old School Style

Buttigieg visits Georgia to promote the Administrations scaled-back infrastructure plan
[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/400, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 24)]

I had the privilege to cover Pete Buttigieg, The Secretary for the Department of Transportation, visit to Atlanta, Georgia. There were so many government representatives meeting with him. Just a few names were Senator Senator Jon Ossoff, Senator Raphael Warnock, U.S. Rep Nikema Williams, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and many others.

Challenge & Solution

The digital media guy for the Department of Transportation was asking me to send him photos throughout the day that he could put up on social media. Here are just three of many challenges I was faced with on that day.

  • Packed Shooting Schedule
  • No Time to ingest into laptop & edit images
  • Anything I would send would have to go unedited

Solution for me was to use the Nikon APP SnapBridge. While it can do a great deal, I used the Bluetooth connection for my solution.

I could shoot RAW with my Nikon Z6 and I could have the camera download every image I took as a 1620×1080 jpeg to my phone or choose which ones. I started by downloading all automatically, even when I turned the camera off it continued to transmit to my phone.

My setup using the MagMod Magsphere on the hotshoe Flash [Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, Mode = Manual, ISO 3200, 1/80, ƒ/4, (35mm = 40)]

I realized in many of these situations that I would normally edit a RAW file to get better skin tones––But NO TIME. So I decided to use more fill-flash than I ever do on a job these days.

No Flash

There were many situations throughout the day, where Secretary Pete Buttigieg was often back lighted with very little light in front of his face. This is one example. If I sent that to the client to post, it would have been a disaster.

With flash using the MagMod MagSphere

Back in the days of shooting film, this is how I had to shoot chrome film. Film like Kodachrome & Fuji Provia you had to get the exposure in the camera.

While I didn’t turn the flash on all the time, I was very keenly aware when I needed it.

Secretary Pete Buttigieg walking through a new train tunnel being built at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, Georgia.

In this scenario, Secretary Pete Buttigieg is wearing a hat and walking in a tunnel with light at the very end. While there were lights on the wall, as he is walking he is going from good light to backlit over and over. Waiting for the best lighting moment does not work well with the best moment capturing what is going on. Using the flash helped immensely with this situation.

See how many photos you can recognize that I used the flash. You might be surprised in some I didn’t use it.

So do you think you could shoot and transmit photos on an assignment with no chance to edit?

I know I wasn’t so sure. so the days prior to the shoot I practiced doing this through the whole process. The DOT gave me a Google Drive Folder to upload my images. We tested it together the day before. This not only calmed my anxiety, but the client’s as well.

“Thank you all for the amazing work. Stanley, your photos are phenomenal. Can’t wait to see the rest!”

DOT Social Media Manager

I got that at the end of the shooting that day and before I had then gone home and processed all the RAW files from my three Nikons. I was using Nikon D5 w/ 14-24mm ƒ/2.8, Nikon D5 w/ 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 & Nikon Z6 w/ Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4 Art lens.

Here is one of the Twitter Feeds from the DOT that day with my photos:

Flash Makes A Difference

I am not going to say that today’s cell phone cameras are no match for a regular camera, that just isn’t true.

When you take photos outside in the daytime most all cell phone cameras do a great job.

Chick-fil-A Roswell Town Center at dusk. [DJI Mavic Air 2, Mode = Normal, ISO 790, 1/3, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 24)]

My DJI Mavid Air 2 has a Sony IMX586 48MP sensor that is also used in the Galaxy S10 phone. So these phones do a pretty good job.

So one of our friends took their own photo using their phone this past weekend, but also had me take the photo as well. They had the benefit of having both and choosing what to use. Here are those two photos:

Then here is my photo using off-camera flashes.

[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/125, ƒ/8, (35mm = 48)]

The cell phone is acceptable until you see the difference using flash. Basically all cameras do a better job of reproducing colors under flash than you get under other light sources like fluorescent.

Besides a better color, the noise is a problem when shooting in low light with a cell phone. Using the flash I am shooting is light that is equivalent to sunshine outside. I can shoot at ISO 100 and fast shutter speed as well.

[SM-G970U, , Mode = Normal, ISO 250, 1/39, ƒ/2.4, (35mm = 26)] photo by Dorie

Dorie took some photos as well to show my setup, so I was able to see her settings for the camera.

Now there is one more difference worth pointing out. When professional photographers setup using flashes they put the lights usually at 45º to the right or left of the camera. Then they also put the light about 45º above the person’s eyes.

The lights in the ceiling are directly over their heads and create what I call “raccoon eyes”. This is the shadows around the eyes.

Here are the benefits that all the people who paid me to take their photos in the Ring at the Citadel:

  • Full Spectrum Color Light
  • Lower ISO ~ less noise
  • Better light direction on faces
  • 24 megapixel images so they can get large prints made

While you can get your cell phone pictures, there are times where it is worth going for quality rather than good enough.

“I Wear The Ring”

Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline starts in the prologue with one of the most powerful sentences that Conroy every wrote, “I wear the ring.” Four short words that once you finish the story, understand why wearing a ring from a military school is such a big deal.

Ordering and Receiving a Class Ring {For The Citadel ~ from their website}

  • While any rising senior cadet may in the spring of the junior year be measured for and order a class ring, to be eligible to receive a class ring, a cadet must meet these two conditions:
    1. Have an academic classification of 1A.
    2. have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.000.
  • To participate in the Ring Ceremony, the cadet must:
    1. Have passed the Corps Physical Fitness Test as outlined in Chapter 5 of the White Book.
  • Cadets who have met academic requirements to receive the ring but have not met the Commandant’s Physical Effectiveness Requirements to participate in the Ring Presentation may pick up their rings on the Monday following Parents’ Weekend at the Holliday Alumni Center.
  • If a cadet fails to meet requirements to receive the ring with his/her class, the Alumni Association will normally hold the ring until the end of the following spring semester.
  • If the cadet has not met requirements to receive the ring by that time, it will be returned to the manufacturer.
  • The cadet may not order the ring, again, until all requirements to receive the ring have been met.
  • The eligibility of cadets who failed to meet ring eligibility in October of their senior year will be checked again in January.
  • The rings of cadets who have not yet received their rings but will receive their diplomas in May or will be eligible to participate in the commencement ceremony will be cleared to receive their rings before commencement.
  • No other cadets will be cleared to receive their rings until after commencement.

These are minimum requirements and will not be waived. Students should see the Registrar to confirm eligibility.

[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/125, ƒ/8, (35mm = 48)]

This is the largest group I have seen with the ring. It means a lot to the family when a cadet not only wears the ring, but has the insignia facing them while she is still attending school and at graduation the entire class turns their rings to facing out. They are now graduates of The Citadel.

Usually every October the senior class gets their rings and has a big blow out ceremony.

This is the moment our son Nelson Lalli got his ring during Ring Weekend for the seniors at the Citadel on October 8, 2010. [NIKON D3S, 122.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 3200, 1/80, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 300)]
After they get their ring they run the the barracks where the lower class cadets in their company have prepared a special toasting for their seniors. [NIKON D3S, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 280, 1/8000, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 24)]
[NIKON D3S, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 280, 1/8000, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 14)]

Traditionally after a few other celebrations that evening they get to walk through a large ring with their date and often the tradition is their mother.

Dorie Griggs with her son Nelson Lalli and his date.[NIKON D3, 122.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/100, ƒ/3.5, (35mm = 122)]

After the ring they walk through the Sword Arch.

Ring Weekend for the seniors at the Citadel [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/80, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 78)]

Then COVID-19

The Citadel Class of 2021 missed this tradition as well as many others. This year Taylor Skardon went out of his way to try and make up for what was out of The Citadel’s control by having the ring setup in the Alumni Center for any graduating seniors on their graduation day.

Taylor Skardon served in the Navy for 30 years. The 1982 Citadel graduate and current adjunct professor and head of The Citadel Parents’ Program.

Here we are setup in the Alumni Center for the day, taking photos for any cadet that wanted photos. [photo by Dorie Griggs]

All the students at The Citadel during COVID-19 have missed out on traditions that are why most of them chose to go to The Citadel. You see many have read Pat Conroy’s The Lord’s of Discipline and chose to have a similar experience for their college years.

While there are many traditions that incoming classes had no idea would be happening to them, so too have these students who have endured more than a “Hell Week!” For them, COVID-19 has redefined what it means to be part of The Lord’s of Discipline. No one truly admires those college years as much as with hindsight. This class has a unique 2020 hindsight.

Real Estate Photography

Today’s Real Estate market is geared to people browsing photos and videos of properties as the first step for finding a home.

Many people will not even contact a realtor until they have done their own searching to get a feel for the homes that are on the market. One of the places that many go to is Zillow.com.

The good news for most who are selling is that the market is so hot that most properties in my North Metro Atlanta, Georgia market are on the market for a very short time. I am hearing that some houses have multiple offers within minutes of going on the market.

235 Founders Mill Court Roswell, GA [NIKON Z 6, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/80, ƒ/8, (35mm = 14)]

You would think with this hot market photos are not needed. However, if you have photos then people will possibly put a bid on your house just from seeing the photos. They cannot risk losing a house waiting to schedule an appointment.

I like taking all the basic photos of all the rooms, but also believe most homes would benefit from a couple drone shots.

Taking photos only from the ground doesn’t always show off your property the best way.

You still need all the shots of the home.

I like to shoot many of the rooms from opposite corners, so that you can really get a feel for the space.

Besides those inside shots I try and get the outside views that people are looking to see.