Winter Carnival (From Above) by Lizzy Larson


A compilation of aerial drone videos taken on or around frozen Lake Mendota during the annual Winter Carnival.

To me, drone videography is a fascinating intersection of technology and art. I began working with drones as part of a research project to collect multispectral environmental data, but later realized I also enjoy flying drones simply to capture videos. Lake Mendota freezing over presents a great opportunity for drone flights, because you can take off and land safely from just about anywhere. The annual Winter Carnival offers iconic imagery such as submerged Lady Liberty, which I aimed to get a new perspective on (one from above!). I also experimented with using automated intelligent flight modes, particularly subject tracking for the figure skating clips. I tried to find balance between using more “perfect” auto-tracking versus more organic looking (but more imperfect) manual tracking by flying the drone myself and responding real time to the motion and direction of the subject. This is also representative of a broader push and pull between the “perfection” technology can produce for art (digital tools with perfect lines, pitch correcting on voices, etc.) versus maintaining some organic yet imperfect aspects. Regardless of one’s tendency towards one side or the other, technology has allowed for an explosion of new mediums and perspectives, such as the ones I sought to capture.

Note: All flight was done safely and legally, with approval from the FAA/ATC for shots within restricted flight zones (the Capitol building and parts of the lake are within varying levels of restricted flight zones due to proximity to the airport).