Capturing the world from a bird’s eye view can be quite exhilarating. These aerial photographs give us a different perspective that we don’t generally see on a day-to-day basis. A few years ago taking such incredible images meant hiring planes, helicopters, balloons, and whatnot, just for a ten to twenty minutes ride. All these beautiful aerial images came at a very hefty price. But, thanks to ever-evolving technology, drones are now affordable and their functionality has exceeded all expectations in just a few years.
Drone photography is an exciting photography niche that’s worth getting into if you are an adventurous photographer or as a business owner who wants to attract more customers. However, flying a drone is not without its challenges. It’s important to understand the capabilities of your drone so that you can capture stunning images. So, without further ado let’s take a look at the tips that will help you improve your aerial photography skills and enjoy those precious moments in the air.
Learn the Basics
It doesn’t matter whether you are a pro or a beginner at photography, you need to know the machine. The most important thing that you should start with is learning how to pilot your craft effectively. Only when you have practiced enough will you be able to focus on photography rather than thinking about the mechanics of your drone. This is why we recommend starting out with an inexpensive trainer drone, which you can learn to fly before investing in a pricier one.
Drones also offer various features like Smartphone feed, beginner mode, geofence, and more. The more time you spend with your drone, the more you would understand the machine and thus, improve your aerial photography.
Before starting out with drone photography, it’s important to plan out your photoshoots. For this, you need Google Earth, which will give you a top-down satellite view as well as a 3D view of the location you are planning to shoot at. Looking at the 3D view of the location beforehand gives you an idea about the interesting landforms, buildings, or roadways in the vicinity so you can place your drone in the right place for the best quality images.
Another important thing is timing. Just like golden hour gives you the best light of the day to get high-quality shots. Similarly, the sun’s location in the sky will affect all your images. If you’re planning on shooting for a few hours, note the outdoor lighting and how it will change throughout your shoot day.
Be Aware of Relevant Laws
It’s very important to know who can pilot drones, where, and how. Be aware of the laws where you are flying and follow them. Always follow the rules as punishments for violations can be harsh. Never try flying a drone around airports, emergency situations, wildfires, or areas with other aircraft as it is not only irresponsible but also dangerous and even life-threatening.
Be respectful of others and don’t fly over private property if you don’t have permission from the land-owner. It’s highly recommended to keep a safe distance from people, buildings, cars, and other objects to prevent any harm or property damage.
Make Use of Rule of Thirds
It’s one of the basic rules of photography that applies to drone photography as well. When you compose your shot, keep the Rule of Thirds in mind. Drone cameras usually have a thirds grid to help photographers frame their photos more accurately. If you have the option of using an overlay grid, don’t forget to use it.
As with normal landscape photography, it’s good to explore the area with your drone and find out objects that can act as leading lines to guide your viewer’s eye around the frame to the most important elements. For example rivers, roads, or bridges can do wonderfully well as leading lines.
It usually takes some trial and error to achieve the desired composition, but with enough practice, you would definitely get the right composition.
Look for Symmetry, Patterns, and Lines
Taking photos with a drone allows you to capture patterns that aren’t visible when approached from other vantage points. Take advantage of the opportunity to view ordinary sceneries from a bird’s eye view and look for unique lines and patterns to make your images more interesting.
Incorporating such design elements can significantly improve your overall composition, and in some cases, they can also help influence how your audience will observe your photo.
A bird’s eye view also lets you find the beauty that you just can’t recognize from the ground. A park or town square may reveal incredible symmetry. Capture it with a shot that makes a perfect mirror image.
In any photo, sharp lines shape the composition of your shot, directing the viewer’s gaze. You can do the same! With a road or trail, frame your shot to make the line extend from left to right, top to bottom, or even corner to corner.
Capture Lights and Shadows
Lights and shadows play a very important role in photography. They help define the mood, tone, vibe, and composition of your photo. Shooting with a drone gives you a new way to capture these interesting lights and shadows.
Just before the sunset, when the sun is low, the shadows are huge. If you notice these shadows at eye level, they don’t paint such a dramatic picture, but from up above it’s a completely different picture. Our shadows stretch out into gigantic silhouettes painting the whole story when captured from above.
When you shoot with a drone you get to see lights and shadows in an entirely new way. Take advantage of this light play and capture some dramatic scenes and discover how lights and shadows can completely change the scene.
Play with Perspectives
Aerial photographs don’t mean you have to take overhead shots. You can try different perspectives. With drones, it’s sometimes second nature to want to fly the drone as high as it can go and capture a direct overhead shot. However, that’s not the case, there’s a lot of scope for creativity as you just need to move around the drone and find the best viewpoint for capturing your subject.
Drones are unique, so use them to take your photography to the next level. Stop thinking in traditional terms and get creative. Shooting from a drone doesn’t always mean you have to fly really high. Try to fly the drone at a height that captures the details of the image that you are trying to create. Sometimes, if you take the drone too high, all the details might get lost. So when in doubt, just experiment with the height.
Try Panorama Shots
If you are using a drone camera, chances are it features a low-resolution camera that wouldn’t be able to capture all the details. Of course, this doesn’t matter when you are using a more expensive higher-end drone. When you are photographing something that’s enormous and beautiful such as a huge castle, a quaint little village, an island, etc, you can do it full justice by taking a panorama with your drone.
Panorama photography with a drone is quite easy. Most of the drone cameras come with an in-built panorama feature, which will do all the work for you and you just have to shoot. Save the panorama images in RAW format so you can work on them later on. Once you are back from the shooting you can select all the best images and stitch them together using image editing software such as Adobe Lightroom, or Photoshop.
Lower the ISO Setting
The camera on your drone is not going to produce images of as high quality as your DSLR, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to take incredible images. With drones, it’s important that you use the lowest ISO to minimize noise. It can be as low as 100. Unless you are shooting at night, it won’t be necessary to use high ISO settings.
When shooting in windy or shady places, you can open up the aperture or use a slower shutter speed, 1/6th of a second, to let in more light and be able to maintain the lowest ISO for clean, sharp images.
That’s all! When done artfully, you can create fun and meaningful shots with drone photography. However, if you are looking to add aerial photographs of your real-estate, hotel, or, construction property on websites and other marketing collaterals, it’s best to work with professional drone photography service providers. Reach out to us to know more about our drone videography and photography services.