Improve Your Drone Photography Overnight

If you want to capture great aerial images, the kind of stuff you can hang on the wall, first you need to be a pretty good pilot. Second, it is important that you know how to get the best out of your camera. Being able to understand these aspects of drone photography ensures you can take control early on, allowing you to capture that perfect shot.

So the question is then…. how can you achieve all of this?

 

In the following article we are going to show you everything you need to take good shots. Important topics covered include Camera Settings, Flying Techniques, Location Scouting, and more!

The first rule described below is something that every drone photographer should understand.

It is a simple idea, that if implemented correctly, it could change your aerial photography overnight.

Rule #1 - Simple Movements Only

For the first year or so you will be learning quite a lot, including how to fly your drone, as well as different camera settings and more!

With this added pressure, it can be difficult to hold your frame and compose a nice picture.

In order to overcome these issues, you should always aim for a simple shot.

Solution: Slow Down

You can always fly effectively, regardless of your skill level.

By slowing your actions down you will reduce unwanted movement and your footage will look smoother and more professional. Instead of trying to do too much at once it’s better to perform simple manoeuvres. Your footage will see a dramatic improvement as a result.

Note: A good rule of thumb is to use one drone movement and one camera movement at a time.

There are a few ways to do this but really it comes down to flying smarter. Take higher quality aerial photography and ultimately make your life easier, using these simple tips.

Also avoid unnecessary panning

You see this problem with newbie drone pilots all the time. Often you will have a shot framed perfectly and the video is looking great, then all of a sudden the camera moves off to the left or right. The frame is lost and the footage now looks clumsy. A much better alternative would have been to leave the drone’s camera where it was and keep rolling.

Rule #2: Understand Your Camera Settings

In order to take sharp images your camera needs to be properly exposed. This means the amount of light that falls on the camera sensor is just right –

not too dark and not too bright.

Image courtesy of https://store.dji.com/

In the following article we are going to show you everything you need to take good shots. Important topics covered include Camera Settings, Flying Techniques, Location Scouting, and more!

The first rule described below is something that every drone photographer should understand.

It is a simple idea, that if implemented correctly, it could change your aerial photography overnight.

Rule #1 - Simple Movements Only

For the first year or so you will be learning quite a lot, including how to fly your drone, as well as different camera settings and more!

With this added pressure, it can be difficult to hold your frame and compose a nice picture.

In order to overcome these issues, you should always aim for a simple shot.

Solution: Slow Down

You can always fly effectively, regardless of your skill level.

By slowing your actions down you will reduce unwanted movement and your footage will look smoother and more professional. Instead of trying to do too much at once it’s better to perform simple manoeuvres. Your footage will see a dramatic improvement as a result.

Note: A good rule of thumb is to use one drone movement and one camera movement at a time.

There are a few ways to do this but really it comes down to flying smarter. Take higher quality aerial photography and ultimately make your life easier, using these simple tips.

Also avoid unnecessary panning

You see this problem with newbie drone pilots all the time. Often you will have a shot framed perfectly and the video is looking great, then all of a sudden the camera moves off to the left or right. The frame is lost and the footage now looks clumsy. A much better alternative would have been to leave the drone’s camera where it was and keep rolling.

Rule #2: Understand Your Camera Settings

In order to take sharp images your camera needs to be properly exposed. This means the amount of light that falls on the camera sensor is just right – not too dark and not too bright.

This is where Auto Mode Helps

There are benefits for shooting in manual mode, but for most people it’s best to shoot in automatic mode when starting out.

You still need to understand your camera settings, so you know when your Automatic settings are correct, and when they are not.

For a full list of Camera Settings you should be using, you can visit our page here


RAW format is an uncompressed file type which stores all the possible information an image can capture. This makes the files large in size, but it allows you to perform any changes you want in Post. Be aware shooting in jpeg will severely limit what you can do with the image afterwards.


Make use of automatic bracketing

Instead of shooting one image and hoping all your settings are correct, why not take a few and choose the best photo of the lot! Bracketing allows you to do this by taking multiple exposures on either side of your default camera setting. This way you are bound to end up with one shot that is correctly exposed.

A common error in photography is overexposure of the sky or reflective surfaces that give off too much light. Bracketing solves this issue, as you can use the higher exposure for the ground and a lighter exposure for the sky. Simply join these together in Post and you end up with a great exposure!


Rule #3 Learn photography principles & theory

After you become a competent pilot and understand the basics of photography, there are a few ways to take your drone footage to the next level.

Once you move beyond technology we can really start to look at the artistic side of photography, that’s where the magic

happens.

Having a good understanding of composition and its proven techniques will allow you to become a better photographer overall.

Having a good understanding of composition and its proven techniques will allow you to become a better photographer overall.

Applying simple techniques like the Rule of Thirds or Leading Lines, increases your ability to take great images. Sometimes good pictures happen by luck, but being familiar with these concepts, and experienced enough to apply them, can mean the difference between good and great photography.

 

Don’t forget the importance of light…

When you look out at the world you may notice how light interacts with its surroundings. Perhaps if you look hard enough you may notice things like how shadows influence the landscape, or how light bounces off of some areas, and other areas it does not.

Light plays a vital role in photography – it helps to pay attention to its subtleties.

Light plays a vital role in photography – it helps to pay attention to its subtleties.

Twilight Hours

Another intriguing aspect of light is how sunrise and sunset offer some fantastic opportunities for great shots during so called twilight hours. A wonderful quality of light is present during these times, including red and orange hues. These are well worth experimenting with when you have the time.

Rule #4 - Buy a good value video drone

Having a camera drone gives you amazing options for incredible photography, things you can’t experience with a normal hand held camera. But sometimes image quality can struggle – especially in low light conditions where small camera sensors suffer.

If you want to take nice sharp aerial images then saving up to buy a good quality drone will make a big difference.

Your first video drone doesn’t have to cost too much. The DJI Phantom 3 Standard is a great starting point.

Rule #5 - Find amazing locations to shoot

If you’re the outdoors type, or you like to explore, then finding interesting locations is easy. The first point of call is to use your local knowledge and visit places of interest in your area. Parks, beaches, and natural landmarks are all great options to start with, as you never know your luck. Once you’ve exhausted all the places in your hometown the next step is to take a look at Google Earth (Free Download). By looking at these satellite images, with resolutions as close as 100m above sea level, you can find some really nice locations on your own.

Tip: In Google Earth there many images people have already uploaded and overlayed on the map. If you find a spot you like you can travel there yourself and try photographing it from the sky!

Rule #6 - Nail your Post Processing

Once you’ve gone to the trouble of selecting the right gear, scouting the location, made sure all your camera settings are all correct, and then finally composed a wonderful image – you cannot stop here! There is one absolutely critical part of the photography process that cannot be missed, and that is Post Processing.

before

before

after

after

Modern day software is so powerful, it brings out features in your images that would otherwise remain unseen. By smoothing out contrast issues or refining white balance, these sorts of things can really make your images pop and stand out from the crowd. Every image will require at least a little touch up so it is important that you understand the basic techniques.

How does Post Processing Help Video?

When editing video, Post Processing allows you to stabilise your shot to such a degree that it can make or break the final result. Because of this, tools like Warp Stabilization should be a staple in any drone photographer’s repertoire. Post Processing also offers the benefits of straightening horizons, removing lens distortion, improving image clarity, a greater range of colours, and also capturing the audience’s attention with the use of highlights.

Conclusion

So we’ve gone over some important techniques that should help to improve the quality of your aerial photography by a fair bit. If you would like to learn more useful tips or other related drone news, feel free to visit the Buzz Drones blog.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article, enjoy your flying and good luck! 


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