Capturing Images of The Carolina Field of Honor

One of the best things about being a photographer and someone who loves to capture images using a drone is visiting unique locations. Some people don’t realize some of the best locations are within in an hour of their homes. One such place is the Carolina Field o Honor in Kernersville North Carolina. In this post I want to cover what is the Carolina Field of Honor and about my experience was in capturing images from the location.

What is the Carolina Field of Honor

The Carolina Field of Honor has several functions for it’s visitors, but the main function is the veteran’s memorial. The veteran’s memorial was officially dedicated back on Memorial Day in 2014. The memorial’s main function is to serve as tribute to fallen service members of the armed forces. The memorial is an important part of not only the town of Kernersville, but also for other surrounding counties and even the state of North Carolina.

Why I Chose to Photograph The Carolina Field of Honor

I had visited the Carolina Field of Honor not long after is was officially opened in 2014. I had seen some images of the memorial on different websites and social media outlets. To me, there was not enough images of the Carolina Field of Honor Memorial location.I felt the memorial needed more visual imagery to showcase it importance for the communities and help visitors not forget our fallen heroes. I wanted to create not only photographs of the structures, but I wanted to provide aerial imagery of the memorial.

Getting Drone Footage at the Carolina Field of Honor Memorial

Prior to visiting the memorial I did my research and found that taking photos of the memorial was not going to be too difficult. I chose a day when I felt the site would have few visitors. I chose the middle of the week when not only fewer people would be there but kids would be in school. Schools love to take students there to show the kids the memorial and explain the reason why the memorial was built. One the day of my photo shoot, no kids visited the site. That was a great thing for me because I had the entire memorial to myself. For a photographer, that is awesome!

As part of my planning, I had to find out if I could fly my drone at the site. As a FAA certified drone pilot I understood there are steps you have to take to find out if you can legally fly at a location. Many people that are not FAA certified do not understand the rules for flying a drone and that the FAA can fine them if rules are not followed. I had no desire to have the FAA fine me. So I did my research.

AirMap App

AirMap App

Part of my research was to find out if I could fly my drone so I could get some drone footage. I used a very useful app called AirMap to determine where restricted areas are anytime I go to a location to fly my Mavic Pro drone. While visiting the location I found out I was slightly within restricted airspace of the Triad Park where the Carolina Field of Honor is located. I first thought I may not be able to fly the drone. However, in some cases, a drone pilot can request a waiver from the FAA to fly in a restricted airspace. In most cases, getting approval could take 90 days. However, at the Triad Park, I was fortunate to be able to request a limited temporary waiver while I was onsite using the Airmap app. I requested a one hour flight time and the permission to fly up to 400 feet. For those of you that may not realize it, 400 feet is the limit drone pilots can fly. After getting the permission to legally fly my drone I took the air to get a few pass over shots of the memorial.

it was a lot of fun to be able to capture images and video of the Carolina Field of Honor. As a photography and a drone photographer it was a way for me to help remind people of the veteran’s memorial in Kernersville and why they should visit the Carolina Field of Honor.

To learn more about the Carolina Field of Honor visit Carolina Field of Honor website.

Until next time!


Finding Your Niche in Photography

Should a photographer have a niche when it comes to photography or should a photographer be able to photograph anything? A lot of photographers seem to struggle with that question when they start out in photography. Should they study and practice to be great at one type of photography or study various styles, forms, and photography practices? I can see the pros and cons of both schools of thought.

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch

Every photographer wants to be great and known for their work and many people have no problem being specialized in one type of photography. There are those that love landscape, wedding, portrait, pet, event, wildlife, nature, real estate, drone, and many other types of photography. Most people choose their type of photography based on their passion and some do a particular type of photography for monetary gains. In most cases, they have a niche and stick with it. For me, I started my journey in photography with landscapes and locations like Utah.

But is having a niche or one particular style always a good thing? I believe having a niche can be good, but I also believe it limits a photographer from learning and growing as a photographer. Now, don't get me wrong, a photographer doesn't have to know all types of photography to be successful, but wouldn't it be great if a photographer possessed a variety of creative skills that he or she could use if needed? Many photographers are routinely asked if they photograph things they normally don't photograph all the time. If he or she can't do a job, some people may think they must not be a "real" photographer.

When I started in photography I did like most photographers and thought I needed my own niche or speciality. I thought I needed to find one type of photography and do just that one style. I was told I needed to find my niche. I felt if I devoted my time, money, and energy into one style or type of photography I would be successful. Something inside me told me that was not the way to pursue my passion for photography. My passion in photography has always been to capture moments in time, no matter the subject. I realized I needed to study various forms of photography and even study videography.

My belief stems from a belief I have always had as a martial artist. When I began my martial arts studies when I was 13 years old I learned under one style. For years I thought that is all I needed to know to become a good martial artist. After learning the basics of the style I was studying I realized I needed to know more to become a skills fighter. I needed to studying other forms of martial arts to become a better martial artist. In a sense, my niche was not having a niche. Photography to me is the same way. After learning the basics of photography, I felt I needed to learn other forms and techniques of photography. I did not need a niche. I needed to learn all that I could from others. I needed to find my way. There is an old saying that Bruce Lee said that applies to my martial arts days, my life today, and even with my photography today. Lee said, "Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own'.

North Carolina Zoo

North Carolina Zoo

I feel everyone has their opinion whether it is good to have a single niche regarding their photography. I can see why some people feel that way. A niche can be a good thing and for some photographers very profitable. I choose to not have a niche. I love to photograph all types of subjects. I love to photograph landscapes, nature, wildlife, pets, portraits, sports, and even headshots for clients. However, I choose to not do weddings. I can't handy the drama from the divas. For me, I photograph what I like and try to improve my skills all the time. I never know when I will need some specific skills to help someone out.

I want to learn new things and learn from others. I want to do more video in the future. Videography will allow me to expand my skills sets and help to tell a story. I want to create stories. I want to write more blog posts about photography. But to do that I need to know myself, become more observant of my limitations, and continue to strive to become a better photographer.

A niche can be a great thing. For me, a niche limits my ability to grow and become a better and more skills photographer. Do you feel each photographer has to have a specific niche to be successful? I would love to hear your views on the subject. Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Until next time, keep shooting!


Stabilization is Kind of Important for Sharper Images

Every photographer knows that there is more to taking a photo than just clicking a button. There are so many elements to keep in mind when it comes to taking a photo. But, one thing I find not mentioned enough for beginner photographers is the need for stabilization and why it is important to keep in mind when planning a photo shoot. In this post, I will explain how I forgot to keep stabilization in mind on a recent photo shoot at a car show in Greensboro NC called "Cars and Coffee". 

I decided to attend the car show for the first time even though I have lived in Greensboro many years. It is that time of year when I look for photo opportunities and like to photograph beautiful cars. So, I decided to attend the Cars and Coffee event. The event was a pretty big event. When I arrived I had no idea the event was that popular. There were cars and trucks of all types and it was interesting to see the cars and the size of the crowd. 

Prior to my trip, I had to decide what gear I would need for the event. I felt it was important that I took my wide angle lens, new Canon 80D, cell phone for taking a quick video, and my tripod. I even took my 50mm lens. I felt that was all gear I would need. I knew that I would need the wide angle lens and I would have to get fairly close to each vehicle to get a decent shot. My original plan was to use my tripod to help me get some very sharp images. But that did not happen. I decided when I arrived at the location that I was not going to have the luxury to set up for my shots and set a 2-second timer like I normally do. There were way too many people and I knew they were not going to cooperate with that plan. So, I decided to leave my tripod in my vehicle and just shot "hand-held". 

Here is why it is important to remember the type of gear you have and do a little additional planning for any photo shoot. In my case, I had no stabilization. My new Canon 80D does not have stabilization. I knew that. However,  I thought my wide angle lens did. I was wrong about that. You are probably wondering if my tripod would have helped. Yes, it would if I could have used it. The problem was there were too many people around for me to set up properly. That is why I left it in my vehicle. 

So, whose fault was it that I could not get the sharp images I wanted to get? Why that would be me. I did not take into consideration stabilization. All of my lenses have "stablization", except for my wide-angle. I forgot that little detail. So, what did I learn from my experience? I learned I need to do a little more in-depth planning and take into consideration all the obstacles I will have when I get to a location. A car show sounds like it can be an easy location to shoot but it is not. Every car show I have ever attended was very difficult for me and I can imagine it is for many photographers. The conditions can be very challenging. 

I learned that no matter how bad I want to use car photos for my gallery it is not going to happen. There are too many people getting into the shots, many times the sun is directly in your eyes, vehicle's glass causes a great deal of glare, and most car shows are pretty unorganized. The Cars and Coffee Car Show was very unorganized. 

With all that said, there really is no excuse for not properly planning for the car show. I learned a valuable lesson about the need to plan for stabilization issues. I can not blame anyone but me for not getting sharper images from the car show. Below is just one of the images I was able to salvage from the photo shoot with a little help with some Sleeklens presets and Lightroom. It is not a great image but the best one I got. I will do better next time. 


Until next time, keep shooting!