Soon after posting the first photos shot from my new DJI Phantom 3 Professional, long time buddy Evan Virnoche hit my up asking about filming extreme kayaking on the Skykomish River with the drone. At that point I had yet to put it over water, so I told him I needed a couple weeks to get the bird trained. Some practice sessions of figure eights through football field goal posts and I felt ready. By the time we lined up our schedules for a mission, I then had already flown over the ocean and a couple lakes, but the river was lined with tall trees to be wary of.
After meeting up with the crew on the side of Highway 2, I was shown what they called Boulder Drop, the spot with the most rapids, and was left to set up gear as they headed up river to put in. I mounted the Panasonic GH4 with a Tamron 28-75mm Lens on a tripod and got the drone in the air for a little practice while I waited. The plan was to look for them at a certain spot on the side of the river and use a series of hand motions to coordinate. As the kayakers came through I was hit with a serious rush of adrenaline from how fast everything went by, and before I knew it they were already passed me getting out of the river.
As they came through on the second pass I experimented with a few different angles, such as flying directly overhead and floating sideways for a long dolly shot. Once again everything went so fast and made me realize how much of an addiction this could be. I'm sure it's a different kind of rush from what these kayakers were experiencing, but with the investment of time and energy put into being out there, I was definitely feeling some pressure to nail the shots of this fast moving sport. I was very lucky to be linked up with a solid crew that was willing to work with me to get some good footage.
A week later I headed back out to the same spot to do it again, this time I bringing my 11 year old son to shoot some photos. Just as I was setting up I realized I completely dropped the ball and forgot the cord that connects my drone monitor. I was flying blind! Keeping my eye on the drone and hoping for the best, I was fortunate enough to capture a couple solid shots. The big hero of the day was my son who came through with some very impressive pictures for a young kid, or anyone for that matter. I must say I'm eager to get back out there and explore even more unique ways of filming this sport.
Kayaking by: Evan Virnoche, Steve Jones, Chase Erickson, Megan Kelly, Jon Shelby, and Emily Keenan