How To Drone Light Paint with Lume Cubes

How To Drone Light Paint with Lume Cubes


It’s 4:00 a.m, we’re on the way to the
airport to fly to Flagstaff Arizona to meet up with slick ambassador and Lume Cube sponsored photographer, Daniel James Alpert. You may know him on Instagram as Daniel James and he does something really cool
with his Lume Cubes and his drone, he uses it to fly in the night sky and
create some really cool geometric shapes and light up his subjects. So we’re
headed out there to find out how he does it and learn a little bit more about
Daniel. So while we’re on the plane I’m gonna kick it over to Daniel, he’s gonna
tell you a little bit more about what this video is gonna be all about! Hello Everyone, Dan Alpert here, Lume Cube and slick tripods ambassador and today I want to show you how to use your
drone to take photos like this. I’ll show you everything you need to use your
drone as a light painting tool, I’ll show you all the gear you need, I’ll show you
all the preparation I do, I’ll give you an behind-the-scenes look in the field,
and I’ll show you the post-production that I do. So, for me the first thing I typically
like to do is to pick a location and I usually use the internet or Instagram
or some source similar to that to find some inspiration. I usually try to pick a
location that has a really strong subject. Then, it’s time to check whether
or not it’s legal to fly there and for me the easiest way to do that is to just
use an app it’s called Air Map and all you have to do is find where you’re
going on the map and it’ll just show you plain as day in red or green circles
whether or not you can fly there. So we finally made it to Flagstaff and I’m in the car with Dan, say hi Dan, hey guys, so where are we headed? So today, we’re
gonna go to a ghost town it’s called, Two Guns and it’s
got some really interesting crumbling structures that we’re going to try and
light paint with a drone. We made it, this is Two Guns. It’s an
abandoned ghost town and right here behind me we have the abandoned Zoo, you can
see it says mountain lions and right now we’re just doing a little bit of
exploring and coming up with compositions for our shots for later
tonight. So to do some drone light painting you’re gonna need a camera
that’s capable of doing a long exposure preferably a DSLR, I have a Nikon full
frame camera. The full frame is a bonus when you’re doing long exposures it’s
just able to capture more light and you get typically less noise. My go-to lenses
are my 14 to 24 and 24 to 70 using my 14 to 24.
It’s my widest angle lens that I have and I really like how at 14 millimeters
you can get that distortion around the edges so if you have some nice leading
lines and stuff you can play with that distortion and purpose. So there’s a lot
to consider when you’re doing some drone light painting, but one of the things you
need to consider is that there are lights on your drone and they’re gonna
do their own light painting unless you cover them. So, what I do is I purchase
some black duct tape or a gorilla tape and I actually tape over them. So I’m
just gonna do that real quick. On the Mavic these lights are really close to
the motor so you gotta be sure not to tape over the motors or interfere with
the propellers at all and it shouldn’t take too much time or too much work but
it’ll save you a lot of time in post not having green streaks or red streaks
alongside your nice purposely painted white streaks. When you’re doing drone
light painting I guess the first issue is how are you going to attach lights to
the drone so for me my first try I purchased some velcro and I velcroed a
headlamp to the bottom of my Phantom drone
and that worked pretty well like the light painted where I wanted it to but I
had to attach it under the drone and in such a way that it interfered with the
drone sensors and that made the drone not want to land so it flew up and then
it refused to come down so it was flying for about thirty minutes past its zero
percent battery and I destroyed a battery. Then I found out that Lume Cube
makes mounts. So that’s what I use now. Lume Cube makes these mounts and they
kind of solve all those issues they don’t interfere with the drone sensors
and you’re not attaching some sticky stuff to your drone. So and and in
addition to that you know Lume Cube has a lot of accessories so I can put on
gels onto it and choose different colors or just warm up the light a little bit
or anything like that so there’s lots of options when you choose to use Lume Cube.
So to attach it to the Mavic here it’s pretty simple you just kind of clip it
right on and it goes right into place. There you go one of them is attached and
the lights just kind of screw in right here. And you can actually pick which
direction you point the light which is another bonus you know when I used tape
or velcro or anything like that it was kind of just stuck in one direction and
with these Lume Cube mounts you can actually pick which direction to lock in. And
then lastly attach some filters. Lume Cubes are are pretty bright white lights
they can actually even appear a little blue sometimes so I like to attach a
warming filter. And you’re good to go. It’s a little hard to show you guys everything
that we’re doing for drone light painting at night so we’re gonna do a
little walkthrough right now of everything that we do to get it done. So, if you’re trying to do a perfect circle first thing you need to do is decide
what is the center of your circle. For me that’s usually my subject so I fly it
directly over the subject I put it into point of interest mode (POI mode) and then
how far you want the circle to be or the radius so I don’t want mine to be
too big but it’s got to be a minimum of 5 meters so we’ll start with that and
you just simply press go. And it starts flying a circle, you can then pick the
speed that it goes if you want it to go faster like right now I think it’s going
a little bit too slow so we’ll speed it up and you can actually time the speed to your
exposure so that I can get a full rotation in one exposure which is
usually about 20 to 25 seconds. That’s really all it takes to do a perfect
circle. We’ve got our composition set up here we found a little area that
we like we like the graffiti here and the doorway so what we’re gonna do is we’re
gonna have someone stand in the doorway and we’re gonna put a lot of bright
light behind them so they’re silhouetted and then we’re gonna just kind of light
paint the whole scene from the air and possibly do one of those halos above as
well. So one of the main tools for photography in general but in particular
drone light painting that you need is a tripod and this is my go-to tripod it’s
the slick pro 3 40 DX it’s actually the first tripod that I ever bought and you
know it’s literally my most used tripod today. And the reason for that is because
it’s a really reliable tripod it’s actually affordable too it’s under $100
so you can’t go wrong there and then it’s got every feature that I could want
a 3-way pan tilt head so that’s that’s my preference I’m not a big fan of ball
heads it’s got these foam pads which are big bonus in the cold you know aluminum
or even carbon fiber it can get really cold and you feel it through your gloves
it’ll it’ll pull the heat right out of your hands so this foam keeps your hands
pretty warm still and then this locking mechanism is one of my favorite there’s
no screws in it so you don’t have to tighten anything and it’s never slipped
on me it’s always very reliable and stays locked in place and that’s why
this is my favorite tripod We will have a halo
right above them, like they are getting abducted. Alright now, right now I’m getting these Lume Cubes attached and in the right direction that I want them to face and I’m
putting some gels on just to warm the light up a little bit and then we’ll be
ready to go. Okay and now we try to execute our composition. I’ve already set
up my settings I took some test shots before taking off with the drone and are
those settings are ISO 1600 F 13 and 15 seconds. This works well for this time of
night that we shot is just kind of right around blue hour you proceed with with
what I showed you guys earlier the POI mode to get those perfect halos and then
once I got a perfect halo I could see it on the back of my screen I started to
instruct our model you know I was trying to get her to do different poses I had
her stand with her fingers kind of wide so that you could see the fingers and
then I did some other poses as well I also had this idea to do two halos so
you can kind of see that in this video as well that I did a smaller halo and
then a larger halo as well. Now you can hear the drone beeping with the low
battery warning it’s letting me know that I need to land
you usually only get about 18 minutes for me anyways on my Mavic of flight
time because of the extra weight you know you just got to land it and see
what you get and then this is the final image that I came up with it’s actually
three separate exposures. One exposure for each of the halos and then I chose
one of the exposures of the model that didn’t have a perfect halo in it so I
had to blend all three together. I liked the one with this this person in it
this model shot because it kind of had like a ghostly appearance to it I had
her move a little bit and it kind of made her a little blurry and see-through
and I just I liked the way that that turned out. So I did a video a screen
capture of my edit of this photo. I did it twice actually but for some reason my
software just wasn’t working and it failed to save or record the edit so
unfortunately that didn’t work but instead it actually worked on one of my
other edits it’s a pretty similar photo so unfortunately that’s what you guys
get. It should be just about as helpful though I think.

12 thoughts on “How To Drone Light Paint with Lume Cubes

  1. Pretty cool, but should be able to turn off the LED lights on the settings under advanced settings under the main controller tab.

  2. Question: How do you set the POI and get it to circle when in complete darkness? Or is it because you are using lights at the source?

  3. Do you have your cubes at the brightest setting? I tried this today and went to a location I have flown a bunch of times with no issues but go figure today, it kept jumping out of GPS and into ATTI mode. Kept giving me Compass Error messages. I always calibrate before I mount the cubes and for some reason I ran into problems today. All of my light painting images I took tonight looked like streaks which is kinda cool but not what I was going for. I put it in POI mode and it did like half a circle before stopping on its own. I ended up just flying in ATTI mode creating my own kind of light painting art! LOL! Will try again in a couple days.

  4. Great video , I'm in my 50's looking for a great artistic hobby I love what you do with the cubes . Im saving at this moment to invest in the cubes and other gear . By the way Love the picture of Nikolai Tesla

  5. Awesome video ๐Ÿ‘ my cubes arrive tomorrow, just in time for fireworks night on the 5th ๐Ÿ˜Šyou ever tried shooting fireworks through the halo? ๐Ÿ˜‡

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