KC Power and Light

While we were down in Kansas City over the weekend, we went to Toruk; a Cirque du Soleil show, at the Sprint Center. Right across the street from Sprint is the famous “Power and Light” district. Lots of cool restaurants and bars in an outside courtyard setting. A huge stage with projector TV is a great way to catch a game. We’ll be back, but next time we’ll get a hotel right there downtown. Staying 25-30 minutes outside of the city isn’t worth it.

High Trestle Bridge, in Winter

There is an amazing trestle bridge just north of the Des Moines area in Central Iowa. The town is called Madrid, but it isn’t pronounced like the Madrid you and I know – they pronounce it Maadrid, which is a little odd but okay. I’ve been up to this trestle bridge a few times in the past, but with my new equipment I am able to get into tight spots from great distances, which I can appreciate in a shoot like this. There’s nowhere to park, for miles. I’ve never actually walked the bridge, but I hope to some day, once the snow melts. Anyway, here’s a quick video of my time up there the other day. I’ll post a few pictures here as well.

New Years, 2016

Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous new year. Make 2016 your best year yet! What are your new years resolutions? I usually don’t make them, so I’m not let down when I don’t meet them. It’s time to eat better, exercise more, lose some weight, and focus on my mental well being. These are goals that I will make happen in the first quarter of the year.

We had a great time last night. Our neighbors are so awesome – we really lucked out moving to a neighborhood like this. We would never find this kind of “family” connection in Southern California, that we’ve found here in Iowa. They really are like one big second family to us, and we love it here.

Here’s a link to some of our pictures from last night’s party



Cable Cutting Update. The ChannelMaster DVR

About a year ago, I Posted an Article about how we cut cable after our move from California to Iowa. The move gave us an opportunity to try going without cable TV, using an HD Antenna to get our basic stations over the air (OTA). In many parts of the country OTA is a great option especially places like the surrounding cities of Des Moines where there aren’t any buildings or mountains to block the TV signals. Sites like AntennaWeb or TVFool are great resources for checking the database of location and channel information against your zip code.

We’ve had this set up for roughly 17 months now and love it. We get our 100 meg high speed internet for less than $50 a month, and we use that to stream Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. We have AppleTV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and a vast collection of movies on the local NAS & BluRays. We stream a lot of news content and streaming services on computer & iPad and have yet to install a TV in the bedroom because the iPad works great for catching up on a show before bed. If you take the $85 a month in cable and multiply that by the 17 months we’ve been here, we’ve already saved about $1500 bucks! I get the Amazon content as part of the $100 Amazon Prime subscription, Hulu is around $8 bucks a month, and we share a family member’s Netflix by setting up an additional profile. That family member also pays for cable so we can use their credentials to authenticate to other streaming apps like CNN, A&E, History Channel, Nat Geo and more. This family member does not use any of these services, so we’re more than happy to!

My most recent purchase was a ChannelMaster OTA DVR, which gives us the ability to connect an external hard drive and DVR shows through our free OTA cable antenna. The ChannelMaster has dual tuners, so you can record two shows at once. It connects to the internet so it can download the TV guide and give you up to date programming information. Tivo has an option for OTA DVR / Guide but I believe they charge a monthly subscription for the guide feature. The ChannelMaster wasn’t cheap, at around $300, but worth it if you look at the cable savings over the long run. The ChannelMaster also has some internet streaming functionality built-in, making it a slim profile, high quality option for an OTA companion.

You can find a ChannelMaster here:

Waukee Fire Dept – House Burn

This morning, I had the pleasure of being invited by the Waukee Fire Department to shoot some aerial drone video for a controlled house fire that the department coordinated. The goal of the burn was to give firefighters a real-world opportunity to fight a house fire in a controlled environment. While I don’t know the back story of the property, it was recently sold and instead of demolishing the home, they decided it would be easier and more cost effective to burn it down.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My New Aerial Drone Blog

I’ve been working on a little side project – Waukee Aerial LLC. You can pull it up at DSM.Photo; cool domain name, right?  I decided to check out Squarespace for the website and I’m really happy with it. It was a breeze to set up, the pricing isn’t bad, and it really gives photographers the power to build galleries quickly to showcase their work.  A new feature of the site is The Blog, and I just posted the first entry this evening. It’s going to be different from my blog here – this will continue to be used for my personal life, and the dsm.photo blog will be used to showcase some of the aerial projects I have going on, where I’ve been flying lately, how the seasons look from the air in Central Iowa, and shots like the one below – from San Diego last week… With my 333 exemption, pilots license, and fresh FAA registration, hopefully it’s time for lift off on this little side hobby. Tomorrow morning, I’m shooting on the front lines for the Waukee Fire Department. This one will be a volunteer job, but an exciting one to say the least. They are doing a controlled burn on an old house next to the Waukee Library. Check back for photos and videos – from the ground and the air!


FAA Drone Registration, 2015

So after I spend the time and money going through the entire aircraft registration process for my DJI Phantom 3 Pro, the FAA announces a web based registration program that will be out in the next week or two.

The process that I’ve proactively taken included filling out carbon copy forms provided to me by the FAA, getting those notarized, paying a $5 fee, and handling it the same way a Cessna gets its tail numbers. After all of that, here’s what the FAA has planned :


According to the FAA website:

“If you own a drone, you must register it with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) registry. A federal law effective December 21, 2015 requires unmanned aircraft registration, and you are subject to civil and criminal penalties if you do not register.”

Whether you fly for fun or commercially, you need to register your uAS. Unfortunately, the only benefit to registering is so the FAA can hold you accountable if you do something wrong, or crash somewhere that you shouldn’t have been flying. Registering your aircraft guarantees that you can be fined or imprisoned, and that’s the only benefit to you. Do you think the bad guys are going to register?

If you plan on flying commercially with your uAS, flying for money that is, you better have a 333 exemption. Fortunately, there are a lot of templates out there, for the folks that have their approvals complete. You can download their requests and approvals and use that as your template for your 333 request. Hopefully, the FAA will have a streamlined process coming out for the commercial use of uAS flying platforms. The 333 really isn’t the right fit in my opinion, as you are requesting exemptions from airworthiness certificates, the amount of fuel normally needed onboard, and many other topics that typically pertain to fixed wing aircraft. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few months.


Amazon Cloud Drive for Prime

If you’re a Prime member, here’s another perk – Free, unlimited cloud storage for all of your photos; regardless of size / quality. Google Photos offered something similar this year, up to 16 megapixel with a paid/storage usage option if your originals are higher resolution. The Amazon solution actually backs up digital negatives (DNG), so you can truly secure your original quality pictures, if you’re serious about photography.  I was just testing it out below, and sure enough – found a recent DNG of my dog, cleaned it up in Photoshop and posted. Shot this with my new Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 lens. Haven’t tried it outside just yet, but so far I love the lens – you can see the quality in the picture below. The Amazon cloud option is nice if you need to get to some original backups while you’re on the go!

Check it out here – Amazon Cloud Drive. For Prime members, you get free unlimited photo storage and 5 GB of video and files. You can pay $59.99 per year and get free unlimited everything. Definitely worth checking out!


Bruno Boy – Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Torrey Pines Drone Shots

On a recent trip to Southern California, I packed up the Phantom 3 Professional and brought it out there with me for the week. I ended up getting a few great shots while I was there. The terrain is so much different than the mid-west. It’s really flat here in Iowa, so when I have the chance to explore the mountains or the beaches from the air – I can’t pass it up! This shot was from the Amtrak construction underway, reconstructing the bridge through the lagoon near Torrey Pines. The rail line is still active, as a few trains went by me that afternoon. I tried to get some shots of the train, but it just didn’t work out that day.


Torrey Pines Lagoon


Amtrak Construction – Torrey Pines


Torrey Pines – Looking South