Video Tribute: Farewell, Kalakala

Twas a spiritual journey filming the Kalakala as she rests helplessly awaiting her visit to the scrap yard. Although her skin appears weathered and tired, you can still see the majesty previous generations once saw. As with the passing of any Northwest icon, we will not soon forget the historic passenger ferry that sailed Seattle-Bremerton and Port Angeles-Victoria routes for decades.

I would like to thank Karl Anderson, Derrick Urquhart and Christian Trandum for getting us up close and personal with the once-mighty ship to take a close look alongside, over and around. Here is the aerial video shot on the Hylebos Waterway near the Port of Tacoma on January 9, 2015.

Phantom 2 Vision+ Product Review


All photos and video found on this site were shot with a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+. You can certainly get results with the GoPro configuration but the Vision+ is our preferred setup for getting up, GPS stabilized, functional FPV, in 5 minutes or less every time.

30+ mph flight speed combined with buttery smooth controls makes for a surreal flying experience, especially at night. The video works exceptionally well when hovering still or even when moving at a steady speed. The only time we run into gimbal vibration is when the copter is rising or falling, and more-so in very warm or very cold temperatures.

The battery life is easily 20+ minutes with my typical flying habits. I regularly fly the Phantom 2 over 1000 feet away from me, and most often at altitudes between 200 and 300 feet. As long as I keep line of sight with the unit, I almost never have disconnection issues. When the copter does lose connection, control is usually regained within seconds. I’ve only had my unit “return home” twice, and in both cases, I still regained control long before it started its landing descent.

Photo quality (especially the .DNG file format) is far greater than any aerial photo equipment I’ve owned prior to the Vision+. If you know how to process RAW files, you will like this unit.

Drones over stadiums lead to the right questions being asked

Aerial view from Stadium High School in Tacoma

Thus far the public obsesses over invasion of privacy and the FAA squabbles over profits; meanwhile the real danger comes from UAV’s physically falling from the sky onto unsuspecting people below. This is why the rules must change. This is the only thing that matters. I fly regularly and made a conscious decision to avoid dense crowds of people after flying over a local marathon and a farmer’s market and seeing the potential risks firsthand.

Thea’s Park on Foss Waterway

Thea's Park

Waterfront access with sweeping views and very few people highlight this location. From Thea’s Park, you can practice your Magnum P.I., low to the water flight skills. What sets this location apart from the scores of other waterfront possibilities in the Tacoma area is the line of sight and the interesting backdrops along all shores in this area. From here you have the Simpson lumber mill, the grain dock, Dock Street Landing, Murray Morgan Bridge, Foss Waterway, tug boats, freighters, and most of downtown Tacoma to spy. Kids skateboarding and drinking 40’s has always made this location a personal favorite and it is no different when it comes to flying the quadcopter as they make for a fun audience/film subject.

Stadium High School

Stadium High School

Among the most iconic properties in the history of Tacoma: Stadium High. You loved her in 10 Things I Hate About You and if you’re like me, you’ve been by her 100’s of times without once stepping foot inside. One day I will venture in, but for now I venture over. My takeoff and landing area here is as easy as it gets, located north of the school and Stadium Bowl. From 200 feet above Stadium High, you can see the Port of Tacoma, downtown Tacoma, Wright Park, the Stadium District, North Slope, Annie Wright, Tacoma Lawn & Tennis.. the list goes on, but you get the idea. Lotta bang for the buck at this location.

Aerial photography of downtown Tacoma

North Pacific Avenue in Tacoma

At the northern pole of Pacific Avenue in Tacoma, you will find some of the finest architecture in the city. From above you will see it in a much different light. The future home of a bunch of aerial video and aerial photography shot over Tacoma is underway here. We are currently stockpiling footage from all around the greater Tacoma area skies.

Why aerial photography?

Because it looks like nothing else we’re used to seeing and it is still legal to fly drones freely in our community airspace. Let the games begin.