Meet Elevated Element, Husband and Wife Drone Team


[Editors Note: Terry and Belinda Kilby are the duo behind Elevated Element, a project dedicated to drone aerial photography. The Kilby’s have spent the past few years capturing beautiful and iconic landscapes from an aerial perspective.

We’d like to present a few examples of their work and a few words from the Kilby’s on how they achieved these spectacular shots. If you’re interested in finding out more about the Kilby’s, Elevated Element and aerial photography, come check out the Aerial Photography Working Group at DARC! The Kilby’s will be debuting their first book, Drone Art: Baltimore, a photo collection capturing Charm City.]

Drone Art Cover.   In the early days of our aerial photography journey, we used to live near this monument positioned just outside our old home in Bolton Hill, Baltimore. The monument served as a type of proving ground for all our new camera platforms. The golden statue sits just over 30 feet high. We must have photographed it thousands of times while we honed our skills.

After leaving the neighborhood and starting on the book project, we knew that we had to return with our current camera platform to capture the image one last time for the cover of the book. We used a Sony NEX-5n camera on a custom hexacopter. I flew the copter via line of sight while Belinda framed the shot from her ground station and directed me where to fly based for the shots we wanted.

Bohtimore. This photo is one of our more popular ones around Baltimore due to the iconic Natty Boh logo prominently featured atop the building in the foreground. This image was captured after launching from an empty parking lot almost directly below where the shot was taken, just after sunrise on a Sunday. We flew the copter into position wearing FPV goggles and engaged position hold once we found the correct perspective. From there, Belinda was able to use her gimbal to fine tune the composition and direct me to make fine adjustments to the copter positioning in order to get the best shot. This was one of our earlier shots we captured with a GoPro HD camera.We actually wanted to go back and reshoot this, but the dirty gritty look is actually a characteristic that most people say they like most about the photo, and that would be lost if we captured it today with our better camera rig.

Patterson Park Pagoda. One of our oldest shots, the Patterson Park Pagoda has been used by many media outlets including National Geographic, CBS Sunday Morning and The Baltimore Sun. The image was captured with a custom Tricopter during an FPV flight using an early version of the GoPro HD camera.If you look closely, I am actually sitting on the steps with controller in hand and FPV goggles on my head. The image was captured early in the morning on the weekend while the park was empty. I think this is a perfect example of how knowing the limitations of your equipment and playing into it’s strengths can produce good results, no matter what gear you have.

Most people would never think of using that early generation of the GoPro for a photo that eventually landed in NatGeo, but by avoiding the weaknesses of the GoPro (fisheye lens distortion), we were still able to pull off a stunning photo.

CentennialPrideCentennial Pride. This is a shot that shows months of planning leading to minutes of execution. To help The Park School of Baltimore celebrate their 100th birthday, we came in to capture this photo. Their math department spent weeks figuring out the best way to line up 1,100 students and staff on the soccer field so that we could get this shot.This played into our viewing angle the best and allowed us to get the strongest shot possible. We used a Canon S90 on a custom hexacopter and framed the shot live with a video downlink feeding both FPV goggles and a 7 inch monitor.  We roped off the area under our flight path and had safety monitors on hand with whistles, walkie talkies bullhorns to direct the students. While there, we gave talks to the entire school discussing what we do, safety measures, and how we would get the shot.

The kids absolutely loved it and we have since done similar projects for other schools in the area.

We hope you have enjoyed this short exploration of our work. And we hope to see you all at DARC!

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