Saturday, July 19, 2014

Lighthouse via drone

While I should have been laboring on the as yet untitled sixth Steve Martinez novel, I have been playing with my Phantom drone instead. (My fellow Phantom pilots insist that it be called a "quadcopter UAV," but everybody else in the world calls it a drone, so I will as well.)

The other day Bruce Johanson, president of the Ontonagon (Michigan) Historical Society, invited me to bring the Phantom out to the old Ontonagon Lighthouse, the society's crown jewel, and get some video and photographs of the place. It wasn't terribly windy, but it was gusty, and the video turned out to be jumpy and shaky, not very usable.

But I also programmed the GoPro camera the drone carries to take still photos every ten seconds, and here are two of the better ones. (Click them both on for large, detailed versions.)

The one above looks toward the south. It was midafternoon, so the sun was not on the front door of the lighthouse, but I used Lightroom to open up the harsh shadows as well as straighten out the horizons, sharply curved because of the GoPro's semi-fisheye lens.

The one below faces north toward Lake Superior. One can see how the Ontonagon River silt built up the shoreline until the lighthouse, once directly on the lake, became landlocked more than 200 yards to the south.

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, but I really should get back to work on that book.

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