Kike Calvo Fotografía

jueves, 6 de febrero de 2014

Drone journalism used to cover Presidential Elections in Central America

For the first time in the history of journalism in El Salvador, drone technology was used to cover presidential elections. The newspaper La Prensa Gráfica, used a small quadcopter to capture images and footage during voting day as citizens lined up to the polls in this Central American country. In an info graphic, the paper explained to readers how the technology they used works. The equipment of choice was the new DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter

DJI Phanton 2 Vision Quadcopter. Photo © KIKE CALVO

Drone journalism has also been used in other countries across Latin America. As Jeffrey T. Lewis reported last June for the Wall Street Journal, ¨Two of Brazil´s largest media organizations have adopted the latest technology to record images of the protests around the country.¨ Grupo Reforma, the largest print media company in Mexico, also documented a massive construction project from the sky in 2013.

 ¨We can cover all type of events. For instance, we can document live sports,  fly over areas where emergencies have occurred, monitor protests that are developing or report on traffic jams,¨ said Álvaro Sagrera, Technology Director of Grupo Dutriz, owner of La Prensa newspaper. 

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martes, 17 de diciembre de 2013

DSLRPros New Year Blow-Out Sale!

My friends at DSLRPros are liquidating inventory for the start of 2014. Accordingly, they are slashing prices on almost all of our aerial products!
 While Supplies Last!

The DSLRPros Pro + DP Edition Kit is a complete, turnkey professional aerial cinematography platform for the GoPro Hero 3, producing amazing results at a remarkable value. Everything you need to immediately start flying and shooting professional, high production value, stabilized aerial video is here- built and tested.  Simply pop your GoPro Hero 3 into the gimbal and you’re ready to go!  

Comes with:

  • DJI Phantom Go Pro Aerial Rig
  • DSLRPros Complete FPV OSD with data telemetry
  • Carbon Fiber Adapter Kit allows you to run up to 4800 mAH LiPo's for extended flight time (up to 18 minutes comparable to Phantom Vision and Phantom II**)
  • 8" Carbon Fiber CF Props (set of 4)
  • Anti-Gravity High Performance Motors
  • Futaba 8FG Radio Transmitter with SBus Rcv (allows you to set and control the tilt angle of the GoPro)
  • DJI Zenmuse H3-2D Gimbal - pre-installed and tested (fully compatible with GoPro's latest HERO 3 +)
  • 6 High Performance LiPo 2400mAh Batteries
  • Q1 QuantumPro Lipo Charger AC / DC - charge from your car battery or in your studio
  • DJI Phantom Propeller Guards for 8" Carbon Fiber Props
  • Special Edition Tough Case with pre-cut foam
  • Integrated 5.8Ghz FPV System -  custom selected and matched for Phantom - others can cause problems with GPS operation - our FPV selection is tested and guaranteed to work with the DJI Phantom
  • 5.8Ghz Transmitter with diversity band (i.e., can add multiple field monitors or goggles)
  • 5.8Ghz Field Monitor with integrated receiver

Digital LiPo Battery Capacity Tester

But there are many other kits available. For more information click here

jueves, 12 de diciembre de 2013

The Tutu Project


After Bob´s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, he began taking beautiful but totally funny photographs of himself in a pink tutu.

Ballerina” started in 2003 as a black and white self-portrait of Bob wearing a custom-made tutu as part of a fund raiser. The New York photographer, whose wife is battling the disease, continued to take self-portraits by going out into the world wearing that pink tutu and nothing else on his hairy, un-buff bod. 

For professional photographer Bob Carey and his wife Linda, a man-sized pink tutu has taken on incredible meaning as their unique way to help women with the fight against breast cancer.

You can support this beautiful project by buying this Holidays the book Ballerina or the
The Tutu Project 2014 Wall Calendar.


miércoles, 11 de diciembre de 2013

Beautiful Naked Stop-Motion


Withings, a creator of digital health products like blood pressure monitors and weight scales, hired London agency Man+Hatchet to create an amazing stop-motion clip. 140 naked bodies worked together in the nude for five days in Estonia. 

Have You Ever Seen a Dird?


People from around the world seem to be spotting Dirds across the planet. They are showing up on different social media platforms regularly.  Have you seen one yet?
Learn more about birds

domingo, 1 de diciembre de 2013

So You Want to Fly Drones?

This post is the latest in the Drones and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Special Series,  which profiles interesting information, thoughts and research into using  drones, UAVs or remotely piloted vehicles for journalism and photography, that Kike learns about during his travels. 
Photographer Kike Calvo preparing the DJI Phantom for a flight. © Photo KIKE CALVO

After attending DARC, a Drones and Aerial Robotics Conference in New York, I decided to become an expert in reporting on stories and news related to this new technology. My interest is far away from military uses. My intellectual curiosity is geared towards the future of Unmanned Vehicles in the civilian world. Many of these potential applications are listed on Drone Entrepreneurship: 30 Businesses You Can Start.
In order to understand the conversations and dynamics between policy makers, concerned citizens and passionate RC hobbyists, I decided to join a Drone Pilot Training Certificate at theUnmanned Vehicle University (UVU). The university’s primary focus area is on Unmanned Air, Ground and Sea Systems education and training.
A broad spectrum of students are joining this Unmanned Vehicle University in Arizona.  Many see UAVs as the future of aviation and want to be part of the phenomenon. Others want a certification and training to start their own business. “I would say half of our students want to start their own business. The other half want to improve their education to move up or get a job in the UAV industry,” said Jerry LeMieux, Retired Colonel and President at Unmanned Vehicle University.

Student and future instructor Michael Ferguson, supervised by Unmanned Vehicle University Instructor Gene Payson, follow Kike Calvo’s FPV flight using the DJI Phantom. First Person View (FPV) refers to when a camera is placed onboard the aircraft. The camera sends live video to the pilot, and the pilot flies the plane by looking at the live video while operating the remote control as if piloting from inside the aircraft. © Photo KIKE CALVO

My assigned instructor was Gene Payson, who has over 40 years of experience and thousands of hours operating remotely piloted, radio controlled and small UAVs. “In addition to ground school, I teach the mechanics of being a pilot in three modes: Line of Sight, First Person View and Internal Pilot,” said Payson.
The Certificate is divided in three phases. The initial stage starts at home. Students complete what they refer to as the UVU Small UAV Ground School. Online videos covering topics such as checklists, general characteristics, motors, propellers, electronic speed controls, wireless links, emergency procedures and others. This phase provided me with a solid introductory understanding of drones and its components.


Once the students have the basic theoretical knowledge, a simulator is mailed to them, similar to the RC Tech 6 CH Flight Simulator Remote Control. The simulator consists of software and a controller that plugs into the computer´s USB port. After I installed the software, I was able to fly 47 different small UAVs from six different sites. This hands-on experience prepares the students for flight with several real small UAVs during a three day flight training class, available in different locations across the United States.

Photographer Kike Calvo perfects his skills on FPV flying. © Photo KIKE CALVO

After completion of the home-based ground school and simulator training, it is time to advance to the final phase: three days of basic flight training. I flew to Florida to meet with my instructor Gene. During my time at the flight school, I learned basic skills to fly both fixed-wing and vertical takeoff (quadcopter and helicopter) small UAVs. Propulsion systems, both electric and gas.
We started on day 1 with safety briefings, weather check and the importance of keeping a Pilot Log. This first day opened a whole new world for me. I was able to pilot, under supervision, different vehicles, from small toy minicopters (Badboy Quadcopter), a  DJI Phantom, and fixed-wing UAVs such as the Hubsan SpyHawk FPV RC Plane or the X8. Emphasis was given to Line of Sight (LOS) piloting.
Like everything in life, mastering the techniques to flying these vehicles requires time. I would say it takes lots of time. I had previously experimented with different RC toys and devices. But during my training, I became aware that each type of vehicle, not only has a different purpose, but that it also requires a different set of skills from the pilot´s side.

Student Aaron Ait-Tonati about to launch a Hudsan fixed-wing plane. © Photo KIKE CALVO

“The hardest to teach is what the student has most difficulty learning. Different students have different aptitudes,” said Payson.  “I find that LOS flight is generally the most difficult for pilots to become extremely proficient at. This takes hundreds of hours of training. Younger people who played video games at an early age have actually learned to fly LOS at the same time. They have built up hours of training at a young age without realizing it.”
On day two we focused on First Person View, that is, the ability to see what the drones sees in the air, as if you were sitting down in the cockpit. To achieve this, a combination of cameras, antennas, repeaters, goggles and monitors are used. I now understand why hobbyists get hooked. It is mesmerizing to be able to see yourself from the air, to explore unknown areas and to dream of the possibility of capturing beautiful images and videos. I learned how differently fixed-wing planes and copters behave in the air.
The last day we worked exclusively with DJI´s S800. We spent the day talking about autopilot piloting. Training and testing, simulating flights to conclude with the creation of my own flight mission from scratch. From designating the way-points, heights and type of turns to real life fly missions.

Student Michael Ferguson and photographer Kike Calvo put together a fixed-wing X8
unmanned aerial plane.  © Photo KIKE CALVO

Jerry LeMieux founded the Unmanned Vehicle University in 2012. “I have taught electrical, mechanical and aeronautical engineering at six different universities over 22 years. I have always wanted to start a school,” said Jerry LeMieux. “I saw commercialization of UAVs coming several years ago. I recognized the need for civil UAS education and training. Several years ago there was no way to learn as a civilian. Now we have a handful of schools that are teaching UAVs, however they are only teaching operations (pilots and sensor operators). I wanted our school to be different so I chose UAV engineering as a focus area for the school.”
“The FAA has published their strategy for commercial UAVs but has not set a timeline,” said Jerry LeMieux. “The first commercial UAV flight occurred in July 2013 with the Scaneagle UAV in Alaska. This is a milestone as it is the first time in history, UAVs have flown for profit in the USA. Congress has passed a law to direct the FAA to publish the regulations for small UAS (less than 55 lbs) by August 2014. The FAA has already announced they will have a draft by the end of 2013. So hopefully we can fly small UAS commercially in 2014.”


“Canada, UK, Australia and many other countries already have commercial UAV regulations. There are many successful UAV applications around the world,” explains LeMieux. “A company in Canada called ACCUAS does world class site surveys. It used to take two weeks. With a UAV it takes 2 days. A company in the UK called CYBERHAWK does oil rig inspections. They have contracts with all the major oil companies. Use of UAVs does not require a costly shut down. According to Boeing, the commercial UAV leasing market will be $10 Billion in 10 years.”

Fixed-Wing X8 Unmanned Aerial Plane. Photo © KIKE CALVO

“The UAV Fundamentals course provides an eye-opening experience to anyone who wants to expand his knowledge in the wide field of UAV applications in the present and future environment,” said Dr Dimitrios Gkritzapis, Chief of Police in Athens. “For those inexperienced in the UAV technology, it will provide a fast-track to the status and potentials of this interesting and exiting field, whereas for those already experienced with the UAV technology, they will certainly discover new applications and new methodologies applied in operations worldwide.”

DJI’s S800 in flight. Photo © KIKE CALVO

For all of you out there who maybe interested in the potential of aerial photography and other civilian uses, I would like to end by saying that your best strategy is to expand your knowledge and education. A small toy mini-copter is not very likely to hurt you or others, but it can still inflict some injuries. When you start going up in the scale of drones and copters, my suggestion is that you get as much information as possible. Becoming a good pilot is a question of practice. There is a learning curve that we all need to overcome. Don´t think you can do it simply because everyone is posting videos on youtube or because you are able to fly your friend´s minicopter.  Seek professional advise, and read. Read everything that comes your way regarding this new industry. And remember, it is essential to fly with a friend or a spotter, who will be able to help with the process, specially when you start using FPV.

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Learn More:

Drone Programs:
The Missouri Drone Journalism Program. Missouri School of Journalism. University of Missouri.
Bachelor of Science in Unmanned Aircraft Systems Science. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Drone Journalism Lab. College of Journalism and Mass Communications. University of Nebraska.

Popular minicopters and drones include:

Additional Readings: 

miércoles, 20 de noviembre de 2013

Photos from my Exhibition at Yale University

For those who can´t visit in person my Photography Exhibition at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, I decided to create this post with images from my show at Kroon Hall. I would love to hear your comments. 

For more information click here.