Aerial Cinematography: foster island / by Tracy Nystrom

This is a short, vivid near-earth aerial portrait of Foster Island in Seattle, WA.  It was shot over a 2hr visit (with the used footage shot in first two flights).  Foster Island is near the Ramps to Nowhere on the north end of Capitol Hill next to the 520 Bridge.  This is part of a series of aerial location portraits I'm doing as a personal project to hone in my aerial cinematography skills, explore public spaces and parks in the city that I've never been to, and observe their relationships to the urban/built environments just around the corner.

I chose this location because I had read and heard of the Ramps to Nowhere that were built and never finished several decades ago (soon to be demolished in 2015) and wanted to film them from an interesting perspective.  I drove to the Location with my friend/spotter Shari but were unable to find the ramps (didn't realize they were in-between the two current existing ramps on the west side of the park).  

Unable to locate them, I decided to shoot a short piece on Foster Island.  I used my DJI Phantom V1 multi rotor UAS (small quadcopter), with a Zenmuse H3-2D 2-axis Gimbal that stabilizes a small GoPro Hero3: Black Edition camera.  This enables me to get fairly stable images without having to do anything in post-processing. I filmed at 1080p 60fps, 5500K white balance, at the Medium field-of-view setting, and used the ProTune setting to get a slightly wider dynamic range from the camera. Everything was shot near-earth (below 50').  We only flew twice (6 minutes each time) and on the second flight the sun started to head behind the clouds and the wind picked up a little bit.  After that we wandered all over the park just enjoying the beautiful sights, sounds, and such that it has to offer. 

We met several people while walking around, more often than not the first thing they ask about is whether my multi-rotor is a drone and if I'm out to spy on them haha The local/national news/Amazon.com has done a great job at perpetuating the term "drone" and it more often than not carries  extremely negative connotations and expectations.  I describe to people that I fly a RC multi rotors and/or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and let them have a detailed look at it.  When they ask about the rules/regulations/laws surrounding them (I've spent over 6 months studying this) I engage them in a friendly and thorough conversation on the topic.  When it comes to questions of spying I usually mention that I'm only spying on the ducks.  I fly only in sparsely or unoccupied public spaces/parks where there is no expectation of privacy and point out the GoPro camera on my quadcopter.  Usually there is someone else out with a large dslr camera and I joke that the paparazzi has followed them to the park. 

In the end, It was an extremely enjoyable afternoon in a beautiful public space that you should definitely check out if you're in the area!