18 07, 2019


2019-08-13T22:32:17+00:00Aerial Photography|

When you hire a drone pilot the single most important issue the pilot deals with is flying safely. The pilot is fully responsible for this. It is one of the most complex things I have learned for my business which includes photography, retouching, video production with editing and now aerials.
         A safe altitude was only 200′ south of the tower but 300′ north of the tower due to the Sky Harbor flight path.

Anyone providing aerial photography for business use must register their drone with the FAA and have the FAA Part 107 license. The test covers many of the same safety issues for pilots of manned aircraft. You must know how to read sectional charts and legends to know what airspace you are in; Class B is Sky Harbor, Class D is for  smaller municipal airports. We cannot fly within 5 miles of an airport without authorization.

This FAA Sectional Chart shows many airports and warning zones.

We first use a few apps like Skyward.io to see if we can get almost real time authorization for the location through LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization & Notification Certification). We submit a request for a specific date and time to fly. If LAANC is not available in that area, which is the case for many areas in Metro-Phoenix, we must then submit a request for a waiver using the FAA DroneZone website which may take weeks or months to get approved. I then contact the Air Traffic Control tower of the airports nearby and provide them with the waiver ID # so that they can keep an eye out for it and rush it along.

The Legend helps us read the Sectional Chart to identify the class of airspace and obstacles.

An altitude restriction may be set to 100’ or 200’ in certain zones. The maximum altitude for a drone is 400’ in uncontrolled airspace, or Class G airspace.

When we get approval we ain’t done yet! DJI builds Geo Fencing into every drone. This prevents the drone from flying when it’s GPS determines that it is an a warning zone or controlled airspace. There are a few ways to disable this by submitting our FAA approval to DJI, and then turning off Geo-Fencing in the controller.

Now for the easy part: flying the drone, capturing images and enhancing/editing the images. Well, it’s not really easy even with lots of practice.

If your company buys a drone the operator assigned to the drone would be responsible for following strict safety rules.

Link to Aerial videos: https://www.johntrotto.com/aerial-photography/

2 04, 2019

Aerial Photography

2019-04-02T22:50:42+00:00Aerial Photography, Photography, Architecture|

DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ with 20 megapixel CMOS sensor and 4K video recording


Strong photography background:

Trotto has decades of experience in commercial photography and video production including advanced retouching and video editing. He applies this knowledge to the camera settings in the drone to ensure the highest quality images. Photos are recorded in the RAW mode which gives Trotto control over exposure, contrast, shadows and highlights while editing. Video is recorded in the Cinelike D setting with in-camera adjustments made to sharpness, contrast and saturation so that even if the sun goes in and out of clouds the images retain shadow and highlight detail. The images look flat upon recording and are enhanced in post which renders higher quality than having the camera enhance the images. He starts every flight with a short clip of the X-Rite Color Checker to ensure perfect color balance and to have a basis for enhancing contrast, vibrance and saturation.

Trotto uses several intelligent flight modes for specific projects such as circling a building or tracking a person or vehicle from behind or in profile mode. His team can track a vehicle at up to 35 MPH. Speed ramping in post can make the vehicle look like it is going much faster. For various commercial or residential properties Tripod mode gives Trotto finer control for smooth, slow passes in tighter spaces.

Mountain Park Church with award winning architectural design. View the video here.

Preparation; Trotto uses Google earth Pro to scout a location in order to get the height of buildings and any possible obstacles to ensure both a safe flight and that the 400 foot AGL (above ground level) altitude will be sufficient to photograph the property. He also uses Skyward and to get FAA approval, if needed, before the flight. FAA approval may be needed within 5 miles of an airport.

Using the polygon tool in Google Earth Pro any building height can be measured. Tower is 61 feet.

Construction projects have many uses for aerial images from marketing to planing to insurance purposes.

Loop 202 construction at Pecos Rd. View the video here.

You can hire a drone pilot or you can hire the professional photographer that flies his camera. Go to contact page.

30 01, 2019

Photography, Video and now Aerials

2019-01-30T22:06:33+00:00Aerial Photography, Photography, Photography, Architecture|

Tuhaye Golf Course at the Talisker Club, Park City, Utah

The scenery at the Talisker club is perfect no matter what season it is. members have an exclusive ski experience at Empire Pass in Deer Valley in the winter and, in the summer, golfers enjoy mountain views from the Tuhaye Golf Club designed by Mark O’Meara. My assignment was to capture the views in both mediums, photo and video, and to show the different seasons. My team can provide photography, video and now aerials. We started in September, 2018 to capture the fall foliage. The 4 hour scout of the property was directed by the realtors from Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. Maps of the golf course were marked as a guide and I was set free for 3 days to capture the imagery. I set out with photo and video equipment and 2 tripods loaded into a maintenance golf cart. Some homesites look down on the Jordinelle Reservoir so these views were also captured by hiking over a few hills with a monopod.

I hired an experienced drone pilot from Salt Lake City for the aerials of the homesites and the views. Although this was my first assignment to use my own drone I was able to capture a detailed photo of the front exterior of the welcome center. Perched up on a hill there was no good angle for a photo from the ground. I also provided interior architectural photos of the welcome center. I used the HDR method for natural looking interior photos.

I will return in May to show the green Tuhaye Golf course with snow on the mountains in Deer Valley.

10 12, 2018

Zoolights; A Photoshop Journey



To create this night scene from 7 different photos I first had to create the background lights. For this, Lane|Terralever provided 2 stock photos from which I had to create both a vertical ad and two horizontal ads for the OOH boards.

I selected sections from the blue background and layered them into the primary background image using blend modes and masking. With each ad individual lights were added and removed according to the art directors comments. The background was enlarged so that it could be shifted in any direction behind the animals.

Each animal was cut out of it’s raw daytime stock image and sized properly. A few adjustment layers were added to each animal so that shadows, highlights and reflections could be individually adjusted, even if the animal were moved or replaced.

The Photoshop document had 18 layers. I created 3 different ads for ZooLights; It was a Photoshop Journey. I enjoyed this project because I used to take my own kids there when they were younger. The event has grown over the years so it is truly a holiday treat for adults as well.

11 10, 2018

Comcast Assignment, to photograph Wilson Contrera of the Chicago Cubs.

2018-10-11T18:59:22+00:00Photography, Photography, People|

What a great assignment! We had a few adverse conditions to deal with. We set up lights in a garage while the city of Scottsdale was repaving that street. This made it difficult to get the equipment to the house and to pack it out. Comcast needed the photos on green screen. Lighting for green screen requires even lighting across the background. This is a challenge when you are photographing an athlete in a garage with limited space. The Comcast video crew recorded footage of Wilson inside the home. When they finished I had less than 5 minutes to work with Contrera to get several poses with different props such as his face mask, glove, bat and cell phone before he had to leave for spring practice. My assistant and I practiced these poses ahead of time so we knew how to fit Mr. Contrera and a bat in a garage with a 9’ceiling. With noisy paving trucks in the street I yelled directions to Wilson and got about 45 shots for the Comcast ads. Years of experience allow me to be flexible and fast.

9 08, 2018

Photographing a Church

2018-08-09T21:34:21+00:00Photography, Architecture|

When architect Steve Barduson asked me to photograph the new Mountain Park Community Church we didn’t know that the church would be hosting 80 students during the teacher’s strike, #RedForEd. The church’s staff and volunteers were maxed out hosting so many young children so we moved the furnishings ourselves when photographing the interior architecture. Chris Taylor, the digital guru for the church, worked the lights to get the different colors in the auditorium and rooftop but we were not able to get any colored lights on at dawn so the twilight shots were all done after sunset which limited the quality of backlighting from skylight when facing the East as in the photo above. So, photographing a church can have it’s own unique challenges.

10 07, 2018

Clipping Paths

2018-07-10T17:49:36+00:00Photography, Product|

I am now offering clipping paths:

I have developed a faster way to create clipping paths so you get them fast, often on the same day the product photos are delivered for smaller quantities. I can deliver a high-res PSD and a PNG at 72 dpi for web use.

31 01, 2018

Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse


Haze softened the effect of the Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse this morning as the moon was setting in the WNW sky. These two images were taken at 5:42 AM(partial) and 5:57 AM (totality)
Super – 25,000 miles closer than normal
Blue – 2 full moons in one month
Blood – at totality the sun’s rays are refracted by the earth
It was pretty cool to observe. These images were taken 15 minutes apart on January 31st.
The partial eclipse was shot at ISO 200 1/100 second. When in the full shadow of the earth, blood moon, I set the ISO to 800 and used 1/4 second exposure which is almost too slow as the moon is moving. A 1,000 mm lens was used.


5 12, 2017

Sunrise at Mesa Arch


How I Got the Shot

Friday, November 24th, 4:45 AM, my alarm goes off in Moab Utah disrupting dreams about family, turkey and good wine. I throw on my ski jacket and grab my backpack that I had prepared the night before with camera gear, tripod and monopod. I step out into the dark cold and climb up into Brian’s Jeep Rubicon. We drive an hour on winding roads unaware of the beauty around us, only seeing what’s in the headlights. I was unaware of the experience I was about to have photographing the sunrise at Mesa Arch. The sky starts to glow as we approach the parking lot for this trailhead; it’s packed! We grab our gear and hike 1/2 mile in the 35 degree cold (cold for a Phoenician) only to be discouraged by the crowd of 50 – 60 people that had arrived before us. Of the 527 square miles in Canyonlands National Park everyone seemed to be in one spot. Shoulder to shoulder and 5 deep they stood behind their tripods waiting for the sun to rise. Brian and I split up and hiked left and right along the rim to find another shot, no luck. Beautiful views but no arch.

The sun rose up off the distant canyon. Cameras starting clicking and iPhones were waving above the crowd. The polite, respectful photographers peeled off the pack after each of them got their shot. We worked our way in and set up, careful not to bump a tripod. I started shooting this incredible view, knowing that I could remove a few cameras, arms and heads in Photoshop. As the photographers cleared out we could move about and get different views through the arch. One advantage to being late to the party was that as the sun rose it illuminated the canyon below to add depth to our shots.

Although I prefer my Canon 5D for photography I have been hiking with the lighter Panasonic Lumix GH4. I bracketed the exposures planning to layer the images in photoshop to manage the wide dynamic range of this scene. However, I had enough latitude in the raw images to be able to adjust the highlights, shadows and blacks in camera raw to create my final images.

Before sunrise some sat quietly taking in the beauty. One photographer was so elated by this experience he did a handstand at the edge.

This was truly a spiritual experience.

25 09, 2017

Photographing Technology

2017-09-25T22:22:02+00:00Photography, Photography, People|

What are the challenges when photographing technology at Versum Materials, a facility with clean rooms, research labs and chemicals? First, we must comply with OSHA’s safety rules which is standard in most manufacturing plants like Intel, Microchip and AT&T, which means we must wear the safety gear which restricts our movement. The glasses can restrict your vision when using the camera’s viewfinder. My assistant and I also wore orange vests in the warehouse so we would not get run over by a forklift; all of this is a normal part of the OSHA safety standards.

Protective gear

The second thing is Versum Materials’ plant in Tempe, Arizona is full of complex machinery and high-tech equipment. Combine that with safety stations and caution signs and it can make for some busy backgrounds. Our job is to make a simple, clean composition by removing distracting objects from the scene and choosing the right lens and camera angle. Luckily I did not have to operate their complex equipment, just photograph it, but they do some awesome things like polishing wafers or magnifying the surface of a wafer, right down to the atoms!

We had about 40 topics to photograph. 50 – 60 photos would be adequate for brochures and web site. We produced 250 photos to satisfy the needs of media-hungry social media.

Getting the right angle for a clean shot.

We may use color or repeating shapes in a composition to hold the eye of the viewer.
See more photos of people in the work-place here.