Category Archives: Australia

Drone Crash, Chapter 1


Well I started my trip south later than I had planned, I was still organising things at work, getting the final printer & paper profiles setup in my new Print Lab before I left, then I had to print out a number of prints that I was hand delivering to clients on the way, as well as printing out a 40” print that needed to be framed, as well as meeting up with a mate to finish organising the flights & visas etc for two weeks in Vietnam as soon as I was back from this trip.

I eventually got away about 3:00pm in the afternoon, just in time to catch the school traffic, but battled through it and kept driving to get some miles under the hood.  Arrived at Coffs Harbour where I stayed that night, left early the following morning and drove further south, made arrangements to catch up with a mate at the Central Coast, Jim Picot,

Jim is a fellow photographer and is also a keen drone man, so after having an early lunch, we decided to go and do a bit of droning together, what better place than the local lighthouse at Norah Heads. well we took no time in getting them in the air, launched from the lookout and off over the ocean, round the lighthouse, great stuff, plenty of onlookers, all interested in seeing the point of view from the telecasted onboard camera , transmitted back to the iPad via WiFi.  after a period we had got the video we wanted, so time to call them back in and move on.

I thought before I pack up, I would just get some last minute video of the beach before finishing, as I was on an elevated platform the beach was well below me about @50meters, so I guided the drone to a safe area over some flat rocks with the intention to lower the drone to almost ground level to get a reading where ground level actually was, the sun was behind me and as I slowly lowered the drone I lost site of it on the screen, unbeknown to me I was not directly over the rocks but several meters short of them, so instead of having some safe flat rocks below me, I had the sea, and underwater I went, as that time Jim was yelling “Go Up… Up… !!!!” at which point I pushed the stick full forward and the drone responded, flying directly straight up to about 70m above me, I am pressing the “Auto Home” button, and trying to fly the drone back to me, but it would not have any part of it, like a spoilt child, it just hovered in the air, started shaking & wobbling severely, then all of a sudden it chucked a wobbly and literally fell out of the air, cartwheeling all the way down, probably about 100meters in all, and just disappeared into the bushes on the cliff below!!!

Well, unsure as to what the status of the craft was, and how the hell I was even going to be able to recover it, a young fella that had been watching all of this unfold yells out, I surf here all the time, I know these cliffs like the back of my hand, I will go and get it, well like a bloodhound he disappears down the cliff in a dash, ten minutes later he turns up with the drone in his hand, I could smell that burnt out electrical fried smell and true to the smell the drone was dead, $3k down the tubes, not happy as this was only the second day, and it was my intention to get drone footage of the areas that I have been photographing for years, I had it all planned out, and now no drone !!!!

So very disappointed, actually disgusted with myself, what was I going to do, as the new DJI Phantom 4 had only just been released and was very hard to get, but when I called in to L & P Digital Photographic’s, they made a few calls and was able to locate one for me, brand new of the boat from Sphere, in Alexander, thanks guys, now back in the air.

Drone Crash, Chapter 2


Now back in command of my new drone, got it fully charged up, I headed further south, down the Hume Highway, I got to Gundagai, a small town on the Hume made famous as the town where the “Dog sat on the Tucker Box” an old ballad & song by Gundagai journalist and poet Jack Moses, but what I was more interested in was the other thing that the town is famous for, the historic twin bridges, there are two bridges that cross the Murrumbidgee river & flats, it is about one kilometre wide, and both bridges are no longer in use, but I can still remember driving across it as a kid, a very rickety old wooden treble car bridge, and the railway bridge alongside of it, neither are in use, and in quite diss-repair, it is only a matter of time before they either fall down or are burnt.

So, as I had shot these before I wanted to get some aerial of the two bridge, set-up the drone and away I went, along, beside under & over, got video from every angle, was great and will be historic video if nothing else, the aerial shows just how badly the deck is on the car bridge, holes big enough that a car would fall through them, it is only a matter of time.

So time to leave Gundagai and head further south, I had planned to catch up with a mate at Yarrawonga, but he went fishing, so turned left and went to Beechworth, to catchup with my sister and of course some free accomodation, stayed a couple of days, great base to access the high country, at this time of the year the autumn colours are starting to really paint the landscape.

Beechworth is an old historic town and has some amazing colour at this time of the year, so I spent the early part of the morning photographing the local rail trail, this is where the government and respective councils have converted old unused railway lines to a scenic walkway & bike trail which is frequented by hundreds if not thousands of locals and tourists wanting to get their piece of country air.

The Fifty Grand Thud

Hamilton Island, QLD (Mar 2011)

Have you ever had one of those moments when you feel that time slows down so much that each second seems like a minute, well I have had yet another one, I had walked out before dawn, in the dark several hundred meters from the Hamilton Island beach sand into Cat’s Eye Bay at low tide to photograph the mornings sunrise, as the tide goes out it exposes a semi-muddy sandy flat that is easy enough to walk on, so off I go with camera & tripod in hand out to where the tide had receded too, which would have been several hundred meters, once I had got to the point where the water was, I set-up my camera & tripod and waited for the pending twilight & sunrise.

Well as it does every other day up came the sun and I was busily capturing as many variations of the event that I could, during this period however mother nature was slowly & quietly encircling me with the ocean, whilst I was aware of this happening, I just continued to photograph the sunrise for a while thinking that that’s OK, I can walk through that water no problems, anyway eventually I decided to pick my gear and leave.

As the camera was still mounted on the tripod, whilst turned looking behind me I did my normal check to tighten the clamps on my tripod to ensure that they were all tight, I then picked up my camera bag (a pelican case, full of other lenses etc), callapsed the tripod, threw it over my shoulder and headed off back to the beach, as I said earlier, I was surrounded by water at this stage, so I had to travel through about half a meter (20″) of sea water, then just as I got about 2-3 meters out of the water back onto the muddy-sandy flats that were rapidly being flooded, I heard a flat “THUD”, I remember just stopping, not looking around, just thinking to myself, “I hope that wasn’t what I think it was!”, sure enough when I turned around there it was, my brand new, one week old Phase One (extremely expensive) camera laying in the mud, upside down !!!.

My heart stopped, I remember thinking what do I put down first to rescue the camera, anyway, I dropped the case, it was waterproof, lay the tripod on the case and picked up the camera, frantically tying to dry it, stop the seawater penetrating it anymore than it had already, I hurriedly walked back to the beach, when I got there, I dismantle the camera, the Phase One have a separate back, body & lens, so pulled it all apart and cleaned it as best as I could.

The end result, was that the lens & back were OK, just needed cleaning, but the camera was a right-off!!.

Just as well for me I was insured, but unbeknown to me, I had under insured the camera body big time, so this created a bit a problem, however my various suppliers PPIB (The Insurance Company) & L&P Digital (The Australian Camera Distributer) & Phase One (The Camera Manufacturer) combined their efforts to put things right, I truly  appreciated their combined efforts, thanks.

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