Anyone that has walked along the Edmonds, Washington, waterfront is familiar with the “Seeing Whales” cast aluminum sculpture located at the south end of Olympic Beach Park.
Above is a photo of the “Seeing Whales” sculpture. Below is a 3D model of this sculpture. I created this model by shooting 287 photos with a GoPro Hero 5 Black camera mounted on a selfie stick. I set the camera to shoot an image every 2 seconds, then moved the camera around to get many different views of the sculpture. The selfie stick was so I could get the camera above the sculpture, and also more easily get the camera down low.
I then processed these 287 images with WebODM (Open Drone Map, web version) into a 3D model, then cleaned it up with Blender, a 3D editing and creation tool. The resulting model was uploaded to Sketchfab for viewing.
To view the model in 3D, click on the image below. It will take a little while to open the model. Once the model is open, use your left and right mouse buttons to spin it around to view it from all directions. Use your scroll wheel to zoom in and out on the model. For the best experience, view the model full screen – either click on the arrows at the lower right or press the “f” key.
If you are viewing this in your email client, you must go to the blog website or directly to Sketchfab to see the 3D model.
With recent changes to the FAA rules, it is now possible for drone pilots to fly at night without jumping through as many hoops as before. To be eligible to fly at night, I had to take the update course for my “Part 107” certificate. I also must have an anti-collision light on my drone that is visible for 3 miles in any direction (that sucker is bright!).
When flying at night, one needs to be very aware of their surroundings so as not to hit something that you can’t see. It’s best to check out the location in daylight hours to be sure there are no wires or other such items that you might encounter.
I flew my first night flight a couple weeks ago just to try it out. I flew from my deck, which is surrounded (and partially covered) by trees. I know where they are, and where on my deck I am clear of overhead obstructions. Landing is the tricky part — making sure that I am not descending into the trees or onto my roof. I was successful in flying a short flight and taking a few photos.
Several days later I flew from the Edmonds waterfront. I walked up the beach until I was clear of other beach-goers and had a good place to take off and land (a flat, almost-level, rock). My goal was to get some shots showing the Edmonds Ferry at or near the dock and the city lights of Edmonds. I was successful.
I flew my DJI Mini 2, which is very light-weight and has a 12 megapixel camera. I would like to try again with my DJI Phantom 4 Pro, which is heavier and has a better quality 20 megapixel camera. I think the heavier drone will probably be a bit more stable, which will improve the sharpness of the photos taken with the slow shutter speed required. Although, looking at the photos, the sharpness is quite good considering the camera is “sitting” on a platform floating in the air, subject to wind and motor/propeller vibration. Shutter speeds were between one third and one second with ISO varying from 1600 to 3200. With the small sensor on the DJI Mini 2, these high ISOs made for somewhat grainy photos.
The photo below was shot as a series of nine RAW photos. The drone was positioned at one point in the sky, then three photos were shot using exposure bracketing (each photo with a different exposure) to capture the wide brightness range. Then the drone was rotated, and another three shots were taken. I did this three times. Each set of three photos was merged using Adobe Lightroom Classic to form one HDR photo, resulting in three HDR photos, each with a slightly different view. These resulting three photos were then merged into a single panorama photo, again using Lightroom, to create the final image.
Edit 2/13/22: If you want to see the above photo in larger size, look at my Flickr album here.