It’s a sleepy Saturday morning during South by Southwest and the city of Austin is not fully awake yet. The sun is minutes away from making its debut when I meet Christopher Sherman, of Over Austin fame, just south of the river next to the Zach Theatre. We have a perfect vantage point to do a little flying and capture beautiful panoramas of the downtown Austin skyline.
“I typically prefer to do my flying just before sunset or sunrise, where the colors are more vivid,” Chris tells me. He flies a DJI Phantom 2 drone, or flying camera as he prefers to call it. It’s a small machine with four propellers, weighing in at just over 2.2 pounds.
His version of the Phantom 2 comes equipped with a custom camera that is capable of 1080p video. It also has a Wi-Fi extender that allows a live video image to be streamed in real-time to your smartphone, mounted on the Phantom remote control. It’s an impressive setup that allows for a fun flying experience while taking aerial photos of Austin.
Christopher’s photos have been featured prominently on social media accounts all over Austin. A day hardly goes by that I don’t see one of his photos on Facebook or Instagram. At the Austinot, we’ve shared his photos on numerous occasions and have always received a fantastic response. It’s not hard to understand why.
His flying camera can go up to 400 feet in the air, higher than all but a few of Austin’s skyscrapers, so Chris is always looking for unique shots he can only get with a flying machine. His photos taken around the Texas State Capitol grounds are one of a kind.
“The camera itself isn’t actually all that impressive, but it can take good panoramas,” Chris shares with me. The gyroscope stabilized camera attached beneath the unit can take buttery smooth 1080p video with an image resolution of up to 14mp.
A high capacity 5200 mAh battery will give you up to 25 minutes of flight time which can go by quickly, so Chris carries up to three spares at a time. If the Phantom loses its connection or is running dangerously low on battery, it has an automatic “Go Home” feature that intuitively directs it back to its original location.
Chris respects the craft of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) photography and takes all necessary precautions when choosing a location to fly over and the time of day to do it. He never flies over crowds or volcanoes (he lost his first Phantom flying over a volcano last Christmas Eve in Hawaii).
There is still a lot of gray area concerning how UAV machines should be classified, and therefore regulated, by the FAA, so Chris tends to err on the side of caution when flying. During SXSW 2015, the City of Austin put out a warning that drones are not allowed during the festival. When pressed by UAV enthusiasts, the city clarified they are not to be flown over official events.
If you’re curious about the kind of video Chris can take with his flying camera, below is footage he took flying down 6th Street in reverse, early in the morning. The camera was 50 feet in the air.
@Crafty_Ed wants to know:
What is your favorite vantage point in Austin to take photos from?
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