Aerial photography is the taking of photographs from an aircraft or other flying object. These flying objects can be a drone or even a kite. Mediums for aerial photography include fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles or "drones", balloons, blimps and dirigibles, rockets, pigeons, kites, parachutes, stand-alone telescoping and vehicle-mounted poles. Mounted cameras may be triggered remotely or automatically; hand-held photographs may be taken by a photographer.
Drone photography is a fun and exciting hobby. With a controller in your hands and a drone at your feet, you can take to the skies and capture some stunning aerial photos. If you want to get into this hobby, or even turn it into a profession, you need to know these 11 secret drone photography tips to get a WOW! photograph.
Finding the right equipment.
There is a vast range of drones (also known as quadcopters or UAVs - unmanned aerial vehicles) available now on the market. Consider these two factors when choosing the right drone for your aerial photography:
- The flying capabilities of the drone.
- The camera that the drone can support
Get familiar with your drone's camera settings.
The better you understand the settings and modes on your drone’s camera, the better your shots will be. When you understand the different settings you have at your disposal and how to use them effectively, you will be able to capture more compelling stills.
More importantly, understand how the different settings like shutter speed, ISO, and aperture affect the photo. Many higher-end consumer drones also have a variety of intelligent photo modes that can help you take better photos. Take some time to peruse and learn about your drone’s camera settings and shooting modes.
Check the weather forecast & plan your photography session.
Modern drones are built with powerful motors. They can travel at high speeds and great altitudes. However, drones are still subject to adverse weather conditions. Regardless of the technology, adverse conditions like strong winds, rain, or storms can lead to equipment failure or loss of control of your aircraft.
With all this in mind, you can see why it is imperative to look at weather conditions beforehand. Check the local forecast for the area you wish to operate in – is it suitable for drone photography on your scheduled flight time and date? If yes, then plan your photography session to get clarity of mind during the whole process. No matter how great the weather is for flying, the secret to capturing an amazing drone shot is to shoot a location with an interesting composition. This is where the planning comes in. Strategically captured drone shots often have that ‘wow’ factor that other aerial photographs don’t. The composition appears to be spot-on, the subjects stand out and even the colours appear to be complementary.
Shoot in the RAW format.
The first tip and so easy to implement is to shoot all your aerial photos using digital RAW format as it gives you so much more versatility in image post processing. Aerial photos captured in RAW format are uncompressed lossless images from the camera sensor. Lossless compression means the size of the image is reduced without any quality loss.
The RAW image holds a significant amount of detail and resolution which is preserved, including more levels of brightness, allowing you to make greater exposure and color adjustments without making the photo look unnatural. Furthermore, when a JPEG is edited, it loses quality; this is not the case with RAW photos. When edited effectively, photos shot in the RAW format will always look better than their JPEG counterparts.
Fly low to take the best pictures.While your drone can fly as high as 400 ft, to make the best shots fly at a much lower height of 100-150 ft. Flying lower will give an interesting perspective and also establish a clear horizon for your images. If you want to take perfect top shots, then you do need to go as high as you can to cover the most area.
Have a subject (or something interesting to photograph).When it comes to taking great drone photos, half the battle is finding a good subject. A subject is an object (or person) primarily being captured. You can have the best drone and editing software, but it will all be for naught without a subject that viewers find interesting.
There are certain situations where it is okay not to have a subject, but it is usually a good idea to include a subject in your drone photos whether it is a boat, a specific building, a winding mountain road, a bridge, etc. In other words, try to include a specific object that the viewer should focus on.
If there is no subject, ensure that what you are photographing is interesting (patterns, symmetry, etc.). Give the viewer a unique image to visually process.
Consider the lightning and shadows.In photography, lighting is key, and drone photography is no different. Lighting can make or break a photo. In general, the best time to take drone photos is during the golden hour. Golden hour is the period of time just after sunrise and just before sunset. During this time, the lighting is more conducive to capturing breathtaking photos because the lighting is softer, and it creates more contrast.
The higher your drone flies, the greater the difference you will see in shadows and lighting. You can use this to your advantage to produce excellent photos that show shadows in a unique way. For example, in a cityscape, high up, shadows will become elongated and extended. Drone photography allows you to view shadows and lighting in a different way – use this to your advantage.
Use a grid overlay to aid composition.When using a drone for photography, time is limited. The typical battery life of a drone is between 20-30 minutes. For this reason, it is essential that you use your time wisely and make the most of your battery life. A great way to improve your composition speeds is to use a grid overlay.
Moving your subjects away from the center, is known as the "Rule of Thirds". The rule of thirds is an essential photography technique. It can be applied to any subject to improve the composition and balance of your images.
Off center composition is more pleasing to the eye and looks more natural than one where the subject is placed right in the middle of the frame. It also encourages you to make creative use of negative space, the empty areas around your subject.
Look for natural symmetry and lines.Wherever you look, you’re going to find some kind of symmetry or pattern that catches your eye. When you’re up in the sky with your drone, finding these patterns is going to be much easier. Capturing them can really create some stunning imagery.
“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” - Vincent van Gogh
Trying new ideas (Experiment with different styles).Do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and attempt a unique style of drone photography. Go for that long exposure, panoramic, or high-speed panning shot that you have been considering. You might be surprised at how quickly you can become proficient with different techniques.
Take a lot of photos and edit them with an appropriate software.Whenever you put your drone in the air to capture some awesome aerial stills, take a lot of photos, and experiment with different angles and camera settings to ensure that you get a great shot. All of those perfect drone photos you see on social media? You can bet that the photographer took multiple shots of the scene to get it just right.
This is particularly important if you are shooting at a unique location that you might never see again. It is better to take a little bit longer at the location and have a sufficient number of photos to work with later than risk having too few photos and missing the perfect shot.
Editing is a critical step in the process of creating an amazing drone photo. Like we discussed earlier (see #4), RAW photos capture a lot of visual data that must be manipulated to create the desired end result. Get a quality photo editing software like Adobe Lightroom and spend some time thoroughly editing your drone photos. Editing is a critical step in the process of creating great drone photos.
The best way to learn anything is to take actions, instantly. If you are beginner to drone photography, TXD 8S will do a lot for you and it is the best overall package for those that are just getting their feet wet with drone photography. Do follow these tips and you will get awesome results which will inspire many people around your network.