Kevin Blackburn often flies a drone around Oakland, taking photos of some of the most iconic buildings, parks, and statues in the Town. And he's pretty good at what he does.
He's got some awesome views of the Mountain View Cemetery, Oracle Arena and our beloved Lake Merritt. On top of that, his photos have been featured by major publications and for major event coverage -- including the NBA Finals!
1. What's your most memorable "I was flying my drone, and this happened" story?
Once while flying in Joaquin Miller Park, I heard and felt a familiar bass line reverberating nearby. It didn't take me long to place the tune -- it was Ginuwine's classic "Ride My Pony." I at first assumed it was someone picnicking in the park blasting a stereo, but when I heard cheering, I realized there was a live performance nearby. I sent my drone up into the sky to find out what was going on. Sure enough, tucked away behind the towering redwood trees was a packed amphitheater (Woodminister) getting down to Ginuwine. Not exactly what you expect to come across when you go out flying your drone, but I thought it was pretty cool.
2.Where/what is your favorite place & time to get aerial shots in Oakland?
I love flying at Lake Merritt, especially around sunset, as there are some truly majestic shots to be had. The way the sun casts out onto the lake as it sinks behind the Oakland cityscape is just magical. No matter how many times I fly around the lake, a new angle of Oakland always seems to present itself. Also, I love the spontaneous interactions I have with people asking me about my drone. Young, old, black, white, men, women. Everyone feels compelled to approach me and ask questions. I've met some really awesome people this way.
3. There aren't too many places where it's actually legal to fly drones, but some spots are strictly prohibited. What place would you fly and take shots that is completely off limits right now?
I'd flip that question around just a tad and say that there aren't actually many places where it's specifically illegal to fly drones. I'd love to fly in Yosemite National Park; I can't imagine many more appealing places in the world to fly. I mean talk about Disneyland for drones. Unfortunately, there is currently a moratorium on flying in national parks.
4. Outside of Oakland, what's the most beautiful place you've taken drone pics? Why?
Along Highway 1 is spectacular. Whether it's up north near Mendocino or down south a bit near Big Sur, there is nary a bad picture to be had. The vistas are already exquisite from the ground, but once you get up in the air, the sprawling beauty of the California coastline leaves you breathless.
You can find all of Kevin's work on Instagram via @SkyHighOakland
. Kevin, keep shooting, we appreciate your perspective.