A tour of the Yorkshire Dales

The yorkshire dales are pretty stunning – rolling green hills with limestone edges and pavements, waterfalls and woodlands, sheep and cattle and of course, lots of lovely walls making patterns throughout the landscape.

Here we have 5 360-degree pano tours linked in Klapty, they are:-

Arncliffe

Taking in the lovely littondale and the road which climbs out of the valley to Malham.

Road to Malham

This is 1/2 way up the climb out of littondale so you get more of the cliffs in the shot

Settle

Just near to the Scalebar Force, there are a few craggy hills on the edge of ribblesdale. I flew the drone to 400 feet and a bit closer to them and all 3 of the 3 Peaks can be seen in the distance!

Gordale Scar

High above this most iconic of limestone features of teh dale, an amazing view of the topology of the area

Malham Cove

The 250+feet tall dry waterfall that defines the area, taken from very high above and far away to ensure no wildlife was disturbed. This shows us the green fields towards Lancashire and the rocky outcrops if you look into the dales.

Drone Virtual Tours…

An Accidental Find

So I was looking for a way to host and view 360-degree photos taken with my DJI mini 2 drone found this virtual tours software which allows you to upload many 360-degree photographs and then navigate around from photo to photo.

How it’s done

The way I created this was to let the drone do it’s 360° thing on its own, which creates 26 raw files. I then import all the raw files into Lightroom and use that to merge all the raw files into one huge file. Doing it this way allows you to have more control over the brightness than you would do using JPEGs.

Once you have all the big files ready to rock I export them as and just upload them to this site, KLAPTY, within a new “Virtual Tour”

Leeds University

Here is an example around Leeds – including a couple of bonus shots I accidentally uploaded from Clarence Dock!

Hot Spots

Along with most other virtual tours products, you can add hotspot anywhere on the photos which the viewer can click. This takes them to different parts of the tour. With the drone it’s quite handy to pick big iconic buildings which people are drawn to.

Or if you are from a tiny little village like the one I came from, you just pick a few spots like in this photo tour from Lancashire

Pendleton Lancashire

Going Commercial

Luckily on my recent trip to Chesterfield I decided to take a few 360-degree photographs of the site we were doing, the main purpose was to capture some video and normal aerial photos, but by chance decided to get a few of these.

And hey presto. a few minutes of processing later and we can have for 360-degree views all linked together with a few hotspots.

This tour technology can be added pretty quickly to any website by just copying and pasting some code into a blog post or a web page.

That is all I did with the two tours above.

So if you are a business which has a big location which could look cool viewed from the sky, then I would definitely be interested in creating a few 360 panoramic and and creating a new tour for you. It will be simple and like the ones above but hopefully Add A Little Bit of Magic to your website that the competition doesn’t have yet.

Drone Photos for Civil Engineering

Aarsleff’s Project in Chesterfield

Ground engineering specialists, Aarsleff, have created this huge retaining wall for a new build in Chesterfield – it’s included lots of piling, steelwork and concrete, and we were invited along at the start and end of the project to capture some images and movie drone footage for them.

360 Degree Views

Here we have a couple of completed project shots. Both taken as 26 individual RAW photos by the DJI Mini 2 drone, then stitched together

This first one is done using LIGHTROOM – the resolution is extremely high and we are able to use all out experience of photo editing to enhance the image if needed. You can see the detail in the wall if you zoom in

This second one is from the DJI Phone app – so completely bended and uploaded from the phone. It’s a better 360 result, if you move around the image (with a mouse on a computer, or finger on the phone) you can see straight down and below the drone better – but the resolution isn’t as crisp as the lightroom edit.

The good thing is we can create both from the files, so whichever you prefer we can do.

Aerial Photos

We also shot a lot of straight shots – the Mini shoots at 12 mega pixels, which is more than enough for any website. You could easily have full-screen images on a retina display.

Using the Mini 2 has huge advantages due to the size and weight, allowing us to plot routes larger drones cannot do without lots of time and investment gaining permissions. So along with the elevated closer photos, we are able to fly further away from the site and capture some distant shots showing the site in context of the city.

Video

I captured and dropbox-ed over lots of video clips on both trips so marketing team have plenty of footage.

I don’t usually edit video for people as it’s still a “development area” for me, but for the purposes of this blog I’ve put about 8 clips together with some jaunty free library track….

We’re going to be shooting another few sites with them this year, hopefully we’ll get a decent day for one, though even these duller days bore some great shots and footage.

How could our drone help you?

The drones are an exciting additional service we can now offer, and with the new laws in 2021, an A2 C of C qualification, light weight drones (A1-Transitional compliant) and commercial insurance, we’re fully legal to shoot almost anywhere.

The main limitations are 400 feet in the air and not near “no fly zones” without permission – so football grounds, jails and airports are all require a few phone calls to arrange.

Using tiny drones, both below 500g, means all the old rules on distances from people no longer apply, so we can fly legally in all kinds of places:-

  • your garden to get photos of your house,
  • on your building site to show progress or the layout
  • inside your factory to show size
  • over your golf course to show each hole
  • from 15 feet in the air to get a great team photo of everyone looking up at the drone
  • from almost any angle you can think of which I can get the drone to safely!

Most of this would need expensive planning, qualifications and permissions to organise, but with the A1 Transitional Category of DRONES, which both of ours are, we just have to avoid flying over “uninvolved people” – hence the unprecedented flexibility and affordability we can offer now.

Drop me a note – ade@mcfade.co.uk – if you want to know more

Mavic Air – HDR Panoramics

Getting used to a noisy sensor again!

Drones have tiny noisy sensors compared to your DSLR – if you’re used to brightening up shadows on an underexposed shot with your camera, you’ll be shocked how bad this is on a drone RAW file. 

So what can you do?

Bracketing and HDR is the answer. 

Bracket photos for HDR is rarely needed with modern camera sensors, but it’s back with DRONE photography. With the DJI Mavic Air I use, you have the option of taking 3 or 5 photos, each 1-stop apart, to capture a larger range. 

Yesterday I went onto Marsden Moor to test this out, having struggled with skies and dark land for the 2 months I’ve had the Mavic. 

The Mavic Air Panoramic Process and Settings

In the app, you need to know your way around the camera settings to find:-

  1. Manual exposure – so all the brackets are the same exposure – remember you’re doing a panoramic so you’ll be taking 2+ brackets.
  2. Set the exposure to 0EV if you know how – so you change the shutter speed/ISO till the little light meter says “0” 
  3. Set the camera mode to “AEB” – then select 3 or 5 – I go for 5 to be safe
  4. Get the drone into position ready to shoot. 
  5. Now rotate the camera to the upper leftmost position in the panoramic – take your bracket (it takes a few seconds to save the files to memory cards).
  6. Next, rotate the camera about 2/3 of a frame to the right to get the next shot – repeat this till you get to the top right edge. 
  7. Tilt the gimble down so you can see the bottom of the original shot at the top – this is the start of the second row of your pano (if you need rows) – now take a shot
  8. Rotate Left, taking shots as you go till you reach bottom Left of the panoramic. 

So that’s it out in the field – it takes a lot longer than the AUTO PANO modes your app may have, but you have gathered 5 times the data and you CAN get a decent sky and ground. 

Merging HDRs in Lightroom

This is where the real work happens. Whilst the latest version of Lightroom CC has “HDR Pano” blending, I’ve found this incredibly slow and you can’t queue up many panos, you have to wait for just the 1 to complete. I’ve never had the patience to let one finish it takes that long. 

So here’s the process I went through for these images:-

  1. Pull all the HDR files into a new folder – these will be the “DNG” files if you’ve shot RAW – there should be a multiple of 5 photos here (or 3 if you did brackets of 3) – so check that you’ve not missed any!
  2. Blend the first bracket of shots – so highlight a group of 5, click CTRL+H to open the HDR box. 
  3. Check the “Auto Align” box
  4. Uncheck the “Auto settings box”
  5. Check the “Create Stack” box
  6. Choose “none” for ghosting – unless you have moving objects in the scene – e.g. cars. 
  7. Click OK – the first HDR gets created! 
  8. Now choose the next bracket of 5 in your thumbnail viewer
  9. press “CTRL + SHIFT” at the same time – then hit “H”
  10. This uses the last settings you applied to a HDR to create a new blend. It does this in the background so you can do other things… 
  11. Whilst it’s blending the HDRs, you can select the next group, get them blending, then the next… I’ve had 5-6 going at the same time and it seems to work. 

 

Creating the HDR Panoramics

So now you’ll have a timeline with every raw file in a “stack” – so if you had 30 photos to begin with, these will be neatly stacked into 6. 

To get the pano, you just need to :-

  1. select the stacks which make up the panoramic in the thumbnail view, 
  2. press CTRL+M – this opens up the Pano box in Lightroom
  3. There are 3 blend mode options – you need either “Spherical” or “Cylinder” – try both to see which works. 
  4. Check Auto Crop
  5. Check Create Stack
  6. Uncheck Auto Settings
  7. Slide the Boundary Warp control to taste – 0 = a thinner wide photo, 100 is a taller photo. 
  8. Now hit “Merge” and you get a final blend of lots of photos in 1 big stack! Phew
  9. After the first Merge, you can just re-use the settings on each pano as follows
  10. Select the next group of pano stacks
  11. Press “CTRL + SHIFT + M” – this sets the panoramic blend going without the settings box popping up. 
  12. Go through all the pano groups doing this – you can queue up many whilst Lightroom is working – I’d not go past 6 in the queue though. 

At the end of all that, your folder of dozens of component shots will have reduced to a few HDR Pano photos – now you can get on to editing them as normal!