This story begins about two and an half years ago, when being given a tour of Red Bull’s generously stocked Equipment Pool, amongst the plethora of cameras and endless walls of lenses, photographer David Robinson was shown a custom Octocopter. Designed to carry such cameras as RED’s Scarlet, at a time when the only cameras flying around were GoPros.

The main thing about this piece is the muscle behind it, and it opened a lot of doors regarding what equipment could be used. David wanted to take the idea as far as he could right away, and he knew that a hot shoe flash just wouldn’t cut it since one of his favorite things to do is add powerful flashlight to the daylight already in the scene.

The existence of this drone got the gears turning in David’s head. Not being a filmmaker, his idea for exactly how to use it was motivated by allowing him to get light into places it’s not typically possible to do so.

Being a biker himself, instantly he thought of slopestyle MTB, since the prominence of the jumps usually limits a photographer to placing any additional lighting behind the jumps and lighting the subject from below. This isn’t ideal since the eyes and brain can recognize, even subconsciously, that something that isn’t quite right since light very rarely occurs from beneath in nature.

I wanted to take the idea as far as I could.Get light into impossible places is going to be the next big thing!

David Robinson

The Elincrom ELB 400 was a huge catalyst in making this shoot happen. The form factor, in that it’s a separate pack and head system, allowed the team to distribute the weight optimally in the center of the drone. With a head weighing in at a mere 250g, it’s no problem if this is off axis as the drone self-levels itself.

Not only was this package exactly suited to what they needed, but with the Skyport Plus HS transmitter allowing David to change his settings while it was airborne, made it extremely user-friendly. Of course, the Hi-Sync functionality to allow him to reign in the ambient light, allowing the rider to pop.

With David’s idea down in pixels now, it was quite satisfying but at the same time not quite as outstanding as he hoped. The main image of freestyle mountain biker Matt Jones worked perfectly but the photographer realizes now that it might not be so obvious to the untrained eye.
Technically, everything worked as expected, and in that respect as a proof of concept it was a success. The next step for David is to take it to another sport where it will make more of an impact!

With such packs as the ELB 400, coupled with the trend of the commercial drones getting stronger and more intelligent, David Robinson can’t help but dream of what exactly might be possible in the future. Take the newest drones and their subject tracking ability. How about a 3-point light setup that leaves your bag and tracks your subject automatically? All in an integrated and dedicated flash drone package?

Sign me up!