La roche qui pleure

Last Saturday, I finally had the opportunity to go and shoot some footage of one of my favourite places here, namely La roche qui pleure, the weeping rock.

I love it there. It’s somewhat like a metaphor for life: the rock stands steadfast against the relentless onslaught of the harsh reality, is being shaped by it, trying to reflect and emit beauty and calmness nonetheless, weeping silently. See the tears?

The rock is located at the southern coast, near a village and beach called Gris Gris. There, the wind tends to blow mostly from the east, or south-east, in particular now with the prevailing anti-cyclone weather patterns, which can result in pretty strong gusts around the rock. Not good for flying a tiny drone. I had checked out the place before in the past months, and have always found it way to windy.

So when I checked the weather map on Friday, and I realised that an exceptional northern wind situation was predicted, putting the southern coast onto the island’s lee side, I rushed out on Saturday early morning. Lo and behold, the wind predictions were correct, and I had some two hours of acceptable conditions. Somewhat windy of course, as you’d expect, but not too much.

The drone performed admirably. It’s a DJI Air 2S. Small, foldable, fun to fly, shooting good 4k 60 fps footage with a 1 inch sensor. You control it using a dedicated hand-held device with two conventional sticks, plus a few buttons. The iPhone, mounted onto the controller, serves as monitoring screen, showing what the camera sees, plus all flight control information needed, including for navigation. If the drone is a few hundred metres away, I don’t see it anymore. I mean it is in line of sight, but it gets lost against the background. As said, it’s tiny. So to bring it back, I need to rely on the navigation information on the screen, which includes the drone’s orientation, my own position, as well as the height above the take-off point. Which was negative at times, as I was standing up on the rocks, and the drone was flying below me to get some of the shots. So when flying home to me, it was a good idea to make sure the height was positive again. Just saying.

Don’t get me started about the drone’s capabilities to stabilise itself, as well as the video, in windy conditions. It’s really good, not least given the propellor size. When it is close, you can hear its relentless efforts to keep its position by the sound of the propellors. I just lazily operate the sticks to control the movements, the drone does the rest. The gimbal for the camera is top-notch, which, in combination with the drone position and attitude stabilisation, results in smooth footage even with windy conditions.

I think this thing is a technological marvel.

PS: make sure Vimeo serves you the 4k version, if your connection bandwidth allows it. Click on the gear icon.