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Clara, Fog and a dark forest

Clara is an Austrian exchange student who likes the Netherlands a lot. She has dark hair, a strong body as well as a strong mind. She already modelled once for sketches and today we went out for a drone-shoot.

Now is the time of year when daylight is limited, the sun rises late and sets early, only about 8 hours light per day. To add to this darkness, there was also some fog. Beforehand I wondered if the fog would limit the view of the drone. We biked to the Gagelbos and explored an area further up in the forest where I had not been before. I hoped to find a new area with enough clearance for the drone to go up. We indeed found two spots surrounded by trees without leaves, one with yellow grass and one with black leaves on the ground. The area was surrounded by old ditches where trees had fallen over.

I taught Clara how to fly, which was also a test for the drone since the fog induced some risks. Wet grass touching the lens during the take-off added waterdrops to the camera lens, which I had to remove. Perhaps a launchpad for the drone would be a good idea. The clearance of the lens during the flight would also be a gamble, would condense make the footage blurry? And the biggest risk would be that the electronics inside the drone would become wet. The fog creates drops on the shell of the drone and water and moisterious air could enter the drone though openings near the motors and the battery compartment. Can moisture cause a short-circuit in the drone? I decided that I would take the risks if the test flight was successful.

When I started the drone I saw that possibly the fog or just a coincidence, limited the number of satellites the drone connected to. This may have been the cause of some altitude uncertainty: the drone did not hover perfectly and the height directly after take-off was -0.6 meter. But apart from that, the drone worked well.

After the test, I raised the drone and Clara posed in several positions: some symmetric, some a-symmetric. The sight at the display was amazing: when the drone was up at around 100 meter and facing down only fog was visible. When descending to 50 meters only the outline of Clara was visible because of being the lightest object. When descending even further the surrounding slowly became visible. The fog made the landscape look like a dark aquarelle painting. From an even lower viewpoint, all forms looked softened. The trees near Clara were visible and very near. Clara tried several poses on the yellow grass and some in the area with the black leaves. For the dark leaves area I changed the exposure settings of the camera to the minimum: -2, two stops underexposure. A started 360 pano shoot was stopped by a nearly empty battery.

Clara had anticipated the cold, but it was still hard to handle for her. Especially the downdraft when the drone flew made her feel cold. Hot tea helped her to get warm between the shoots. What also helped was the warm battery. I noticed that the front of the battery, which is exposed when it is in the drone, even had some warm water on it: condensed fog. Recharging the drone battery went perfect. Normally a battery is too warm to be recharged right after a flight but this time the battery charged right away. Cold weather has some benefits.

Clara went home after the shoot, I biked home for the first time since I normally use my car and got lost. Google maps helped me out. At home, studying the material revealed that at the footage from the last flight, water drops on the lens caused somewhat blurry footage. But the majority of the material seemed to be perfect. Also, the -2 exposure setting proved to be a good choice. Finally, the fog indeed gave some beautiful dreamy revealing shots when descending.

I thought of another idea: to combine a beautiful sunset with a drone model shoot. Sunset is early this time of year. The direction of the sunset is now 51.4 degrees (where 90 degrees is west) and at 15.48 (see

Lessons learned: even a dark day with fog can be used to create beautiful footage, the drone can handle fog (based on a limited test, n = 1), use -2 exposure setting when the surface is dark.

To Do: use something as a launch/landing pad instead of the grass.

Ideas for future shoots: running model tracking footage, high quality 360 degrees Pano shoot, sunset shoot

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