I am a bush-pilot, aerial photographer, and explorer.
Our world is truly beautiful from up here!! And to share how I see it, I am developing an immersive project called Where Eagles Fly and would love to introduce myself and the project to the Steemit community.
My name is Gerald Zedekiah Morse, I go by Zedekiah or Z for short.
Of course here on Steemit I am "skypilot".
I was only recently introduced to Steemit by a friend. I find the entire construct of a blockchain content distribution platform to be fascinating. Centralized mass distribution of content is still very much under a gatekeeper rule and I would love to bypass this as much as possible. Steemit and other kindred platforms such as lbry.io, ascribe.io and many others all provide valuable tools that will greatly assist in the launch, success, and ongoing control of my project content. There is much to learn, and I look forward to the journey!
My proof of life - at my hangar on 8/23/16 with the Bluebird
If you would like to see an example of my project and the work I do, please click on the image below which will take you to my website which has a Vimeo clip embedded on it. (Unfortunately at this time Steemit does not support Vimeo and I do not like the compression quality of YouTube.) I would right-click to open the link in a new tab so you keep Steemit open and don't lose your place.
I am a music composer, pianist, recording engineer, and sound designer. I work mostly as a ghost composer and arranger on film soundtracks and trailers. I love many different styles of music and experiment with recording any genre or style the muse provides. If you would care to listen to my music, visit my listing on SoundCloud/ZMorse, but please realize, it is not for everyone. Lots of different styles are on there, and I change the material all the time since I have a substantial library to choose from.
Z in the Studio Mixing Film Music
In addition to music production, I also code, develop virtual production technology and work as a disruptive technologist. But mostly I am an emerging filmmaker and content creator. For this project, I do everything possible to insure the content is not unduly influenced by outside sources. For that reason, I do literally everything: pilot, aerial photography (cinematography), post-production editing, music composition, sound design, graphics and motion graphics.
I will work with other people in the development of the various post-production components involved in distributing the project content, and when the project is ready I will get a professional voice over artist for the narration of the various film and episodic chapter components. I'd love to get someone like Sam Elliot or Morgan Freeman!
I Love To Fly
It feels like I was born a pilot. My father was a test pilot for the B58 Hustler and then an aeronautical engineer for NASA during the Apollo program. Those were heady days. Most folks don’t realize, but back when Silicon Valley was just another small California suburb of San Francisco, and long before the advent of the Internet and rise of technology as we know it today, there were two very advanced scientific centers of technology that few knew about outside of the NASA community: Nassau Bay, Texas, and Huntsville, Alabama.
My father and test crew for the B58 Hustler circa 1960
These were the Silicon Valleys of the day back in the 1960’s and 70’s. Huntsville, Alabama, was home to Marshal Space Center, and Nassau Bay, Texas, was home to Johnson Space Center. I grew up between those two places because my dad was transferred back and forth every couple of years as the Apollo program progressed. This is something I will write about in another article due to there being a lot of interesting things to discuss from that era. What’s important is the impact exposure to this unique community had on me. I developed a love of science and engineering and a wanderlust for space exploration that has had an ongoing effect on me. I still gaze into the night sky in wonderment at the possibilities of what is out there, of what we do not know. I truly love the unknown.
When I was a child, my father took me flying a lot, most of the time we had to sneak out of the house because mom was so scared we would crash. Pops would always make me promise not to tell her when we were out doing aerobatics or flying through the mountains and landing on riverbanks. I’m grateful for the influence he had on my life, and the exposure to the science and engineering of flight that has shaped my life. But also in the type of aircraft and flying I am attracted to. I have never been interested in the fast moving jets or high altitude aircraft, instead prefer flying low and slow above the beautiful back-country, experiencing views I know very few people, if any, ever get to see. So this means I require a particular type of aircraft that can safely operate in these rough, rugged, and primitive locations.
Flying My Bluebird In The Wilderness
I exclusively fly small bush planes. These aircraft do not require a normal paved runway to take off and land on. All I really need is a somewhat flat space a few hundred feet long, the smoother the better, but not necessary. You have to be very careful landing in short places, as you run the risk of being unable to take off from there again. This is why careful planning and attention to weather conditions and surface terrain are paramount! I also fly float planes, even crashed one a long time ago in the wilderness and had to egress the aircraft underwater as it was rapidly sinking! (Another story for another time).
Camping on the Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee
Camping with an airplane in the wild is an experience of either extreme solitude, when I am out there by myself, or great camaraderie with a very small group of pilots who love the back-country as much as I. We have fly-in's where groups of pilots, young and old, male and female and lots of families all come together to camp out in these hard-to-reach locations.
Landing and taking off on river banks, tops of cliffs, mountain saddle backs or meadows, which are always deep in the wilderness and far from civilization or help, are standard operations. Planning and proper equipment are necessary for survival, and knowledge with continuous training will keep you alive when things get spicy! You can count on the weather to be unpredictable, changing rapidly with little warning when you fly and camp deep in the mountainous hinterlands. Vigilance and a keen sense of awareness must be enacted at all times, especially in the air but also down on the ground, particularly when camping in the wild.
All sorts of wild animals like coyotes, moose, elk, wolves, and bears will come into camp. We all know that they can be a curious lot and after all, this is their home and we are just visitors. Mostly, they are looking for food, especially bears. I am sure you have all seen this photo of a bush-plane that got a bit chewed on? Never ever store food in the airplane, not even something as small as a candy bar―especially if it is covered with fabric and not metal, though aluminum skin probably would have suffered badly as well. I reckon that bear was pretty determined and that fabric skin cut like butter with those sharp claws!
Bear damage on an aircraft similar to my Bluebird
Culmination of My Life's Work
Years ago, I began taking photos while flying and camping in the back-country. Over time, camera technology exponentially reduced in form-factor while increasing in capabilities. I’m now able to carry more powerful DSLR's with amazing capabilities, and I've gone through the gauntlet with different systems: Nikon, Sony, Canon, Hasselblad, and PhaseOne. Some work much better than others, there is no real magic bullet; however, I love the large-sensor-format-based systems because I desire to reproduce my images as large-scale prints.
Shooting The Grand-Staircase Escalante in Utah
As video camera technology matured into smaller form-factor systems, I began experimenting with mounting cameras all around the aircraft, outside and in the cockpit. It has taken quite a while to come up with solutions to mitigate camera vibration. The rolling shutter effect from these systems is always an issue, especially with the bending propeller which I really dislike. But I am using my current configuration as a test bed from which to design and build an aerial platform that will eliminate all of these problems. This new platform will be based on a global-shutter sensor with a custom camera control, mounting, and optical package.
With the advent of a powerful suite of post-production tools from Adobe Creative Cloud, I am able to leverage my knowledge of virtual production technology into the art of editing and film composition. Because I already do soundtrack work, it was a fairly logical step. With the combination of aerial photography, aerial footage, and music composition and recording, I have the ability to produce my own content. Hence the following project:
Where Eagles Fly – The American Wilderness Expedition
For the past few years, I've been exploring the remaining wilderness areas of North America and filming them from a space just a few hundred to a few thousand feet above ground. The view from this zone is incredible. To accomplish this, I fly into remote off-the-beaten-path locations that are very rarely visited and even more rarely seen from this special zone up in the air... Where Eagles Fly :)
When you think about it, our view of the world is quite limited to either down on the ground or very high up in jet airliners. Both of these views are restricted by physical limitations such as line-of-sight with ground based views and limited fine-detail when viewing from airliners flying along at 35,000 feet or higher.
Kokoweef Peak in the Mojave Desert
Where I fly, earth colors interact with weather and atmospheric conditions to create incredible “paintings” of nature that are stunning to behold. I see things that “Move the Soul.” I wish more people would get into flying like I did as a young man. Flying a drone is very cool, I own a number of them, but nothing compares to being there in person. The experience is worth the effort and the inherent danger. But I do realize that pressures from our socially-connected, Internet-influenced, technically-adapted and risk-averse lives somewhat limit the exposure to flying for most people. Aha, this too, apparently, is another good subject for a future article.
My goal is to chronicle the remaining 47% of the USA and 90% of Canada that are uninhabited and unaffected by the encroaching crush of civilization. By doing this, I hope to increase the lexicon with which we visually describe our planet ― by providing a unique new view that illustrates the untamed beauty and ruggedness of these remarkable places. I also hope that people will become as entranced as I, and will be inspired to continue the difficult effort necessary to protect and preserve these wild places for future generations.
Cougar Mountain in Zion National Park
Flying a bush-plane while shooting through an open window is not without its difficulties! The type of scenery I seek is dramatic, with weather playing a major role in providing the desired backdrop. For the cleanest, long distance large-area wilderness-landscape images, I require the clearness provided by the cold, dense air molecules of Fall, Winter, and early Spring months, without the aberrations and heat distortion of Summer.
Shooting the San Juan Mountains in Colorado
As you can see this is not a large production crew type of project. This is me, all alone, in the wilderness up in the air looking for dramatic weather to juxtapose against dangerous mountains in marginal flight conditions.
To share this journey, I am creating a highly interactive, immersive virtual journey which will allow you to experience the beauty and wonder of these extraordinary places from this unique perspective. I will post this in a future article.
Wilderness Landscape Photography As Fine Art
The static imagery can be distributed via a variety of compelling formats, using the Ken Burns effect to make short ambient vignettes. With this, I stream the images to digital frames, provide images as screen savers and mobile device backgrounds, etc. But what I truly love to do is turn them into prints.
Obviously, there are many ways to do this, from simple posters, calendars and greeting cards to printed apparel. All of these are , all very appealing. You can print on practically any surface. However, I want the images to really stand out, to grace the locations where they are placed. What is truly spectacular is to create large-format prints on different mediums. For now, there are three mediums I work with:
- Giclée prints on Canvas
- Chrome Metallic Paper Mounted on Acrylic
- Aluminum Plate
Each of these mediums has different qualities which influence how the images appear. I have been fortunate to find both an amazing printer (they exclusively print for all the National Geographic Galleries) and a gallery willing to allow me to exhibit my works. To date, I have held two exhibitions in the Wyland Signature Gallery at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both were a complete blast!
Part of My Exhibition at the Wyland Gallery in Planet Hollywood Las Vegas
It was quite an interesting experience during the show, in that most of the time I felt like a museum docent explaining the story behind images. Folks are drawn to this unique view of nature, and seem to enjoy watching the in-flight footage showing how the images were acquired.
People are not used to seeing wilderness landscape images from this perspective it's such an advantageous place to shoot from. It's not as though anyone can simply follow me up the trail and take the same photo!
Ok, my fellow Steemers! That about wraps it up for this post, if you have stayed with me though this entire article, I thank you!! I would LOVE to get feedback from the community, and if there is interest, I will continue writing about this subject and will update the Steemit community as my project develops.
Please let me know what you think. And Fly Safe!!
Landing Bluebird on the Mesa Top at Pearce Ferry, Arizona