Saturday, May 25, 2019

Catching lightning bolts with 30 fps @ 8 MP bursts (RX10 IV)

It was the first thunderstorm over the Bued River this end of summer, and this signals the start of my lightning photography season.

It's quite easy to shoot lightning during a thunderstorm at night - I just have to point the camera at a photogenic scene, focus manually, adjust the aperture and ISO for proper exposure, then open the shutter for 30 seconds. Hopefully, a photogenic lightning bolt will materialize within the frame during that period. If nothing interesting happens during the 30 second window, I delete the file and start all over again. 

Without an auto trigger or an ND filter for long exposures, it's nearly impossible to shoot lightning during daytime, which was the case during yesterday's thunderstorm. Fortunately, I have a camera that shoots 4K video - this allowed me to film the scene at 30 fps (or 29.97 fps to be exact) for extended periods. The chances of catching a lightning bolt at that frame rate is quite good. The downside is each frame is essentially a heavily compressed 8.3 MP jpeg file, without the processing flexibility of RAW files.

Here are a few frames caught yesterday. I took shelter in our garage and used the wider end of the Sony RX10 IV's zoom lens. All frames were grabbed from 4K clips, processed and downsized to 1920 x 1080. It's interesting to note that most of the lightning flashes happen very quickly, in about 1-2 frames. Combing frame-by-frame through many minutes of footage is a laborious process.

1920 x 1080 version

1920 x 1080 version

1920 x 1080 version

1920 x 1080 version

And a short 4K footage from which one of the frames above was grabbed:

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Barangay Taboc in good morning light

Barangay Taboc (San Juan, La Union) is famous for its pottery industry - various pots, terra cotta stoves and other earthenware are made and sold by the roadside in  this place.

This morning, I saw another facet of Taboc's beauty. With the early morning sun providing good illumination from the left, the twin curves of the Manila North Road and the shoreline leading to Poro Point made this seaside village quite photogenic when seen from the air (click on the high-res version below for more detail).

Many nice looking houses are scattered throughout the village, most of these are near the beach. But what particularly catches my eye is the house built on the leveled hilltop. 

I'd exchange a month's supply of barako coffee for the privilege of sipping ice-sold San Miguel beer in its yard during sunset. Lucky houseowner, he must've done numerous good deeds in his previous life to be entitled to such a killer view everyday.

Shooting  info - Brgy. Taboc, San Juan, La Union, May 5, 2019 @ 7:10 am, 
DJI Mavic 2 Pro, 10.3 mm (28 mm equiv.), f/6.3, ISO 100, 1/240 sec, 5 DNG frames merged into a panorama.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Cordilleras in golden light

With the setting sun beautifully casting some golden light on the Cordillera mountains, I sent up the Mavic 2 Pro to try to capture a super wide panorama late this afternoon of Labor Day.

Kennon Road starts at the lower left corner, as it runs along the banks of Bued River on its way up to Baguio City.

Shooting  info -  Rosario, La Union, May 1, 2019 @ 5:45 pm, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, 10.30 mm (28 mm equiv.), f/6.3, ISO 100, 1/120 sec., manual exposure in available light, stitched from four DNG frames.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The northern terminus of the TPLEX as of April 28, 2019

This massive panorama was assembled from four 20-MP RAW (DNG) frames taken by the Mavic 2 Pro's Hasselblad L1D-20 camera. While this drone's lens is not as sharp in the corners as my Canon EF 16-35 f4 IS, it's quite competent in the central portion of the frame, yielding very good detail.

The wide image shows the progress of the construction of the northern terminus of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) as of April 28, 2019. The interchange at the right side is the junction of the Manila North Road (going up) and the Rosario-Pugo Road (going right) which leads to Baguio City via Marcos Highway.

When completed, the TPLEX should drastically reduce my travel time on the rare occasions that I can brave the traffic and visit toxic, almost unbearable Metro Manila. :)

Shooting  info -  Rosario, La Union, April 28, 2019 @ 6:51 am, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, 10.30 mm (28 mm equiv.), f/6.3, ISO 100, 1/40 sec., panorama from four DNG frames.

   10,000 x 3,000 version

After shooting the above "plan view,"  I repositioned the  drone to capture a vertical panorama using three DNG images, each one at an oblique angle to the TPLEX and framed on top of one another (with some overlap), using the vertical gimbal adjustment of the camera. The resulting composite gives a more 3D appearance to the elements of the image.

Shooting  info -  Rosario, La Union, April 28, 2019 @ 6:53 am, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, 10.30 mm (28 mm equiv.), f/6.3, ISO 100, 1/120 sec., vertical panorama from three DNG frames.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

How Premium Aggregates Are Made

A short feature on the quarrying and crushing of river rock into premium aggregates for use in high-performance concrete. 

All footage were filmed on location at the quarry and aggregates plant of Ten-Four Readymix Concrete, Inc. along Bued River, Northern Philippines. 

Shot in available natural light, using a Mavic 2 Pro, 4k/29.97p capture processed into 1080/29.97p.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The goat shed on top of the hill

An 800-foot high hill with steep slopes towers over the Bued River, overlooking the town of Rosario, La Union. On top of this hill, seemingly oblivious to the rapid development of things below, goats graze in the middle of a mango orchard. 

One of the goats managed to get out of the enclosure, while the rest are staying within the fence near their shed.

I've long been wondering what is on top of this hill. Thanks to the power of drone photography, I now have an idea of what's happening there.

Shooting  info - Bued River, Sison, Pangasinan, April 24, 2019, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, 10.30 mm (28 mm equiv.), f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/1600 sec., frame grab from a 4K footage resized to 800 x 450.   

Monday, April 22, 2019

First still photos with the Mavic 2 Pro

With its larger sensor, higher MP, AF and adjustable aperture, the Mavic 2 Pro's still image quality is very impressive to me. It's not quite as sharp at the corners as my EF 16-35 f4 IS, but it's way up there in the central portion of the frame.

Here's a couple of still shots taken this morning, as I was familiarizing myself with the drone's controls and features.

Shooting  info - Bued River Bridge, Rosario, La Union, April 22, 2019, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, 10.30 mm (28 mm equiv.), f/4, ISO 100, 1/200 sec., single frame cropped into a 2:1 panorama.

Shooting  info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, April 22, 2019, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, 10.30 mm (28 mm equiv.), f/4, ISO 100, 1/500 sec., two frames merged into a 2:1 panorama.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

From River Rock To Concrete

A short feature on the aggregates crushing and readymix concrete production of Ten-Four Readymix Concrete, Inc. - the premier producer of premium aggregates and high-performance concrete in Northern Luzon, Philippines. 

 All footage were captured with a DJI Mavic Air drone at 4K/29.97p, then processed to a 1920 x 800 / 29.97p video (cinematic 2.4:1 aspect ratio). 

 Filmed on location at Bued River, La Union, in available natural light. 

Music - "Willow and the Light" by Kevin McLeod, (RF)

Monday, April 8, 2019

Kennon Junction before the traffic rush

This triangular junction at Brgy. Camp I (Rosario, La Union) is where the Kennon Road coming from Baguio City meets with the Manila North Road (MNR). The MNR snakes to the left towards the direction of San Fernando and Laoag cities. 

Traffic is still very light at around 7:00 am when this photo was captured, but this is expected to turn into a virtual carmageddon as soon as vehicles coming from the north and Baguio City start to trek back to Metro Manila in the afternoon, after a four-day long weekend.

Shooting  info - Brgy. Camp I, Rosario, La Union, April 9, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/230 sec.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Brgy. Taboc from the air

This aerial view of Brgy. Taboc (San Juan) was taken this Sunday morning from an altitude of 105.60 m. ASL, with the camera pointed towards the southwest. In the far distance near the center, the twin radar domes at Poro Point are barely visible.

The mansion on top of the hill at the left is reportedly owned by a showbiz personality (a popular comedian). The house in the foreground with a multi-gabled roof sits on top of the leveled hillside near the pottery stalls. The MNR and the shoreline along Taboc form a photogenic double S-curve, while the placid China Sea to the right awaits eager surfers to ride its waves.

Shooting  info - Brgy. Taboc, San Juan, La Union, April 7, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, altitude 105.60 m ASL.

Friday, March 29, 2019

"Droning" the construction progress of the TPLEX

Here's how the construction progress of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX ) looks in the first golden light of the morning - taken from an altitude of 185.30 m ASL at 6:38 am today March 30th over Camp I, Rosario.

The lower road leading to the bridge in the upper left corner is the Manila North Road (MNR), while the upper road (still an embankment at this stage) is the TPLEX. The large rectangular roofs in the lower right corner are the Caltex and Petron gas stations.

Shooting  info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, March 30, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/200 sec.

I've to split the 180-degree panorama into two for easier viewing.... here's the other half in the northwest direction. Embankment works are still ongoing near the terminus. If one looks closely, the signage of Jollibee and McDonald's are visible near the upper right corner.

Shooting  info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, March 30, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/200 sec.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Trying drone photography for the first time

I got hold of a DJI Mavic Air recently, and I've started learning how to fly it safely and take images while it's high up in the air. Here's a few of my early attempts, all shot in RAW (DNG).

Shooting  info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, March 29, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/170 sec.
Shooting  info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, March 27, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, altitude 109.10 m ASL.

Shooting  info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, March 27, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/380 sec, altitude 84.60 m ASL.
 1600 x 1200 version

Shooting  info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, March 27, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/800 sec, altitude 34.20 m ASL.
  1600 x 1200 version


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