Drone photography allows you to take photos and video footage from hundreds of feet in the sky.
By attaching a small lightweight camera to your aircraft, you can enjoy the fun of flying while pursuing the art of aerodynamic photography.
Capturing those high definition, high quality photos and videos from above can bring a whole new view of the world to your fingertips.
Whether you’re an amateur or a professional or somewhere in between, drone photographers are capturing and posting their treasured shots all across the internet.
So just how does drone photography work?
We’re about to share some basic in’s and out’s of what you need to know to control your drone and seize that perfect shot.
Close Up or Aerial?
Set your goal for each of your photo trips.
What is your target?
Is it mobile or stationary?
Would it be best captured from below or above?
If a close up is what you need, adjust the camera setting ahead of time. Take a few practice shots and make sure the lens is right and it’s not blurry. If an aerial shot is on the agenda, know how high you have to fly the drone to get it. Drones have an altitude limit. Check the limitations of your aircraft to make sure that you can reach the altitude you need without crashing or losing power.
Keep in mind that if you’re flying outdoors, you will have to compensate for any wind that may blow the drone off course. Wide angle lenses and prime lenses work well in windy conditions because they are shorter and help to stabilize the camera a little better.
Hovering for More Stability
Taking a shot from a moving vehicle is never easy.
There is a certain skill needed to accomplish that which most people struggle with.
To reduce blurriness of a moving target is simple.
- Stop moving
- Fly the drone to a space where it has a good view of the target
- Then release the controls and hover in place.
- This will free up your hands to adjust the camera settings, resolution, and whatnot.
Then you’re ready to grab that shot.
Video can also be taken while the drone is in hover mode.
If the target below is moving, for example your friends are going down a long and windy water slide, pick a location where the camera can get a panoramic view. Allow it to hover in place. Begin recording as your friends take action. No shakiness, no multitasking of flying while trying to record. Just hover and shoot.
For video recording while moving, fly the drone in a smooth path. Transition slowly from one angle to another to avoid sudden movements. The faster the drone flies, the faster the camera has to work to capture the footage. Try to elevate the drone slowly as you increase the tilt. This helps to capture video in a smooth and fluid curvature of flight.
Don’t forget to take the drone selfie – a.k.a, the “dronie”.
Again, hover mode works well here, too. Face the drone so the camera is on you. Position it to about 10 feet above ground. If your camera comes with an LCD screen, check the background to make sure what’s behind you is completely captured. Slowly lift up and away as you record your awesome self.
A Better Camera Means Better Pictures
All the angles in the world taken from the most expensive camera there is will not yield a decent photo if the camera is shoddy.
Figure out what kind of photos you want to take. Look at some examples of photos from different types of cameras and choose what works for you. Most flyers prefer GoPro cameras, mentioned later. They can run a bit on the expensive side, but they are definitely worth the investment.
A higher resolution camera will give a clearer and more defined photo, and the colors will be much more vivid.
A camera with a lower resolution will use less pixels and hence have less definition. So, basically, a camera with a 1080p resolution will provide a better quality photo than a 720p camera.
Never take just one photo of a specific target. Take multiple shots. You can sort through them later and delete the ones you don’t want. But it is always better to have too many fabulous shots than only one good one.
Lighting is another top item to consider when using your camera. The settings can be adjusted only so much to accommodate low light, evening hours, and noon time sun. Too much light can cause the camera to over compensate, leaving you with dark objects in the front and super bright objects in the background. Make sure the sun is behind the camera, or at least not shining directly in it.
For photos that are sharper and clearer, set the camera to use faster shutter speeds. This helps to minimize motion blur. Set your camera to a higher (faster) shutter speed to minimize the amount of time the light has to pass through the lens. The less time, the less blurring.
But what about night flights?
If you are trying your hand at night photography, you’ll need some type of external lighting accessory. It may be worth the money to purchase a light for your drone if photos after sunset are your goal.
The most common camera for a drone is the GoPro. It has an entire slew of settings that offer more correction abilities than most other cameras. It has light correction ability, color contrast and saturation, and lots of filters to choose from to correct imperfections from your photos.
Adobe Premier is software that provides lens distortion effect. After you’ve completed any editing and corrective coloring to the photos, apply this effect and it will correct the fish eye distortion that GoPro cameras (and other drone cameras) have.
Invest in a Gimbal
A gimbal is used to stabilize the camera on your drone.
During the shifting and tilting of flying, it can be near impossible to capture an un-blurred still photo.
Camera gimbals absorb the turbulent motion of flying and keep the camera stable.
The more stable the camera, the better quality photos and videos you can capture. Gimbals are an optional accessory that can be purchased already attached to your drone, or you can purchase it separately.
Using a gimbal means you can use a lower resolution camera and a medium zoom lens. If your drone does not have a gimbal installed, you’ll be better off using a camera with a higher resolution and a wide zoom lens.
Location, location, location!
Wide open spaces are not only safer for flying, but it gives a perfect unobstructed view of, well, everything. Sunsets, mountains, traffic snaking through the spaghetti highways will be adherently visible if you’re flying in a large open space.
Flying in between trees or mountains will limit the view that the camera can capture. In this more restricted location, you’ll end up getting close ups of your target. But the more restricted the view, the more difficult the flying will become. You’ll have to have some supercharged piloting skills to weave in and out of a forest.
Pick a location where the weather will complement your goal. Don’t go the beach during a rainstorm if you’re looking to capture a serene sunset. But if you’re trying to catch a bolt of lightning shoot from the heavens, a rainstorm is exactly what you need.
Climbing to the top of the Empire State building when there is zero visibility due to fog cover won’t help you get that fantastic skyline view. Correlating your goal with Mother Nature can save you a ton of time and help you get that perfect shot.
Privacy Regulations of Drone Photography
Taking any type of photos or video recordings can be considered an invasion of privacy. Guidelines, rules, and regulations are applicable to drones and photography and vary by state and city. Check out what rules are applicable in the area you’re flying in.
There are regulations that restrict altitude, flying near crowds, or in private residential or military areas.There are also safety reasons that exist in the development of these regulations.
If you fly your aircraft over a large crowd and crash, someone in the crowd could sustain serious injuries. You will be held at fault and heavily penalized.Breaking the rules could result in some hefty fines. Some pilots have even had their drones confiscated and their camera cards deleted.
Aerial photography from first person view (FPV) gives you some spectacular sights that you may not be able to capture otherwise. Using a drone to fly to heights unheard of before while recording and taking photo stills is at your fingertips. With a drone and a camera, the possibilities are endless.