Aerial photography is now more approachable to everyone, since drones have made a dynamic entrance in the market. Equipped with the right cameras, they can capture videos and photos with much more versatility and significantly less cost, covering the needs of every photographer or producer. Below you can find tips and suggestions for unique aerial shots.
1. Choose the right drone
With drones becoming so popular over the past years, there are many devices to choose from. Think of how you will be using your drone, how often you will be needing it and where you want to take it. Will you do a lot of travelling with your drone? Then, you might want to invest on a smaller drone for entertaining purposes mostly, such as the DJI Mavic Air. Will you use it to create photographs for professional use? You may want a larger sensor, more megapixels and the Hasselblad color profile, so check DJI Mavic Pro 2. If you want the best possible quality and size is not an issue for you, then the DJI Inspire 2 with the top X7 camera may be the ideal choice for you.
2. Think about the lens
When it comes to shooting from above, you need to think about the lens. A standard focal length lens (approx. 35 - 85mm) offers great results, since you can get a tight zoom into your subject.
The new DJI Mavic 2 Zoom allows you to capture extra detail and produces clean, crisp shots with a narrow and professional look.
A wide angle lens (as seen on most drones) on the other hand, is also a very good solution, as it allows you to capture a whole lot of your subject, capturing amazing photos from above with a wide angle result.
3. Find a good location
When it comes to aerial photography, location is everything. You need to be in the right place for the best shots! Clear shapes, lines and patterns can also enhance your aerial photographs. Get inspiration by checking out some of the best drone Instagram accounts and choose where to shoot. Ask for useful hints from locals of the area and add your own touch for an excellent result. Do not forget: Safety and abiding by the law are priorities.
4. Choose the right time
The time of day makes a huge difference when it comes to aerial photography. Try to shoot in the so called “Golden Hours”, these being the start and end of the day. This means the light will be more interesting, and the colors different. Work with the direction of the sun to see how you can use it to light your subject/scenery best.
Don't forget to enable "HDR" to capture as many details in both the highlights and shadows when facing the sun. Remember that you are not allowed to fly at night (only up to 30 minutes after sundown at the most).
5. Shoot RAW
When you are to shoot landscapes from above, it would be good to save your photos in RAW form. JPEG has its perks, for sure, but shooting in RAW makes it so much easier to make changes to your photos during editing. Your images will not be “compressed” and you will be able to make color corrections or adjust the exposure much better than if you shot it in JPEG.
6. Lower ISO
If you shoot in high ISO, you'll get a lot of grain (“noise”) in your images, which can ruin a great shot. Try to stick to a low ISO when shooting. It means you'll have to manually lower your settings, but it will lead to better quality images. If you are shooting in dark, shaded or windless locations and need more light, try using a slower shutter speed or open up the aperture. This will bring more light in and keep the ISO low for better shots. The rule is simple: the lower the ISO, the better the quality!
7. Find the right shutter speed
Aerial photography shots need the right shutter speeds.
If you want to get creative with some “blurred” images, a slower shutter speed will work well. But to achieve that effect, you'll need to attach ND filters (at least during daytime) on your drone camera.
Given that modern drones have great gimbals and sensors, you can really give it a go and create shots with super slow shutter speeds. A fast shutter speed will work best in most cases of aerial photography, so try to keep it higher for crisp shots.
8. Beware of the weather
Before each drone flight, you should always check the weather!
If the weather is set to be snowy, very windy or rainy, you should not fly your drone. Opt for a sunny or slightly cloudy sky for spectacular shots.
9. Bring extra batteries
The last thing you want when shooting from above with a drone, is for the battery to die on you. Most drone batteries only last for around 18-30 minutes per flight. Make sure to carry more than one spare battery, fully charged.
10. Use your imagination and get creative while having fun!
Set your imagination free and have a great time flying a drone legally and safely. Capture unique aerial shots trying to find locations that have not yet been covered from above. Think of shots from different altitudes and angles that will offer you a complete and exciting viewing experience. You can experiment with new styles and techniques, try selfies, or take shots of landscapes featuring leading lines, lots of contrasts or shapes.