14 Drone Photography Tips to Consider
We all know that a drone can produce breathtaking aerial photography with minimal work involved. There’s nothing to compare the capability of a drone to take astonishing photographs, difficult by any other means.
As climbing up the ladder of time, drone technology evolved and therefore the safeties of flying and manoeuvring a drone. The cameras attached to the actual drones from the day of
We are having now the Mavic 2 Pro with 1″ CMOS sensor which gives us the unmatched chance to evolve in taking our drone photographs.
In this post, I want to share not only 14 useful tips to improve your drone photography but some extra tips to fly your drone safe and to keep in mind before and when flying your drone.
14 Main Drone Photography Tips
- An image is never just a single photo
- Keep your ISO at 100 and use manual camera mode
- Accept new challenges but within the limit of the laws.
- Take your shots on different angles.
- Fly low, fly high.
- Check your forecast before going out with your drone
- Use a camera lens filter (polariser)
- Have a look for patterns
- Aerial selfie
- Expose the destruction of this world (seen from above)
- Capture dividing lines
- Get to know your drone limits
- Phone calls?!?
- Calibrate your drone before each flight.
- Bonus – 12 extra thoughts to share with you.
1. An image is never just a single photo
When you are up in the air and have a limited fly time, you would want to take out the best from your drone.
The composition can be unique, and taking a single photo would be never enough to create an outstanding picture.
Always try to combine multiple photos to create a panorama, a higher resolution image, an HDR photograph or all of the above at the same time.
Having better control over the lights and shadow in post-processing could be an enormous advantage.
But do it manually. Take all those extra photos in order to create something by yourself. Do not use the panoramic and sphere function because those would never match the quality by taking it by yourself.
I remember back with my Mavic Air; whenever I was taking photographs using the panoramic / 180 / sphere functions, the drone would try to do it for me. Therefore faulty images were created most of the time:
- Depending on wind conditions, even the slightest movement of the drone could leave a visible mark when the photos are stitched into a panorama. Therefore most of them were unusable.
- The panoramic photo was resulted in a .jpeg and not a RAW photograph, leaving no room for improvements in post-processing.
- You would be unable to create an HDR panoramic photo using the automatic function.
- The time of taking all those pictures automatically and stitching them was way too long, and probably consuming extra battery juice either on the drone.
- Do it manually. And stick them together in Lightroom or Photoshop.
2. Keep your ISO always at 100 and use Manual Camera Mode
There’s no need to increase the ISO above 100 unless you are taking evening/night photography with your drone, where is a different story.
Because of the small image sensors the drones are equipped with, rising above 100 ISO would create unnecessary noise into images.
During the daylight, the shutter should be fast enough even if moderate wind condition, to freeze the moment without the need of increasing the ISO.
In order to keep your ISO at
Having control over all the camera functions, including the shutter, gives you total control over your photographs.
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3. Accept new challenges
Whoa! Wait. First thing. Do not put yourself, others or your drone at risk. And always respect the laws.
But making a big leap forward into drone photography, you will have to accept new challenges. Finding unique compositions can be hard and tough. But not impossible.
Always remember to respect other people privacy and the drone laws for your country. If you are in the UK, have a read on our in-depth guide on UK DRONE LAWS and how to fly your drone safely in the UK.
As an instance, I remember that once I’ve seen a video on the internet where a drone pilot was in arctic area in a snowstorm trying to capture the wildlife on extreme weather condition.
One another example is trying to fly your drone in a (tall) forest (carefully) and to capture the inside of the forest from several meters above the ground.
Think of any challenging situations but remember to respect those drone laws and do not put your drone in danger if you are not feeling confident that you can do it.
4. Take your shots on different angles.
Depending on your composition, try to take your photos in different angles. Experiment with that.
Indeed, some shots of the waves would look
There are for sure more drone photography tips to capture from different angles. Be creative.
5. Fly low. Fly high.
Not every time when you are flying high you can get a fantastic picture. Sometimes you have to fly low for that photograph.
On different scenarios, you will have to fly at different altitudes in order to take a good photo. Try experimenting with this, but beware, stay away from people and buildings.
6. Check the forecast before going out with your drone.
If its going to rain later in the day, why do you want to put your drone at risk? You should reschedule.
But what if you are already there and it starts raining while your drone is in the air? It is a good practice to check the forecast before going out with your drone and avoid flying in a weather condition which can turn into rain anytime.
Your aircraft may be costing over a thousand dollars and is definitely not waterproof. Not mentioning that if this will malfunction while in the midair due to the rain, what are the damages which can cause a free-falling drone?
Sorry for being so negative about that, but I have had a friend who was in the same situation and did the same mistake. He lost his drone that day because of the rain. Fortunately, no other damages.
7. Use a camera lens filter.
It is well known that in videography (drone filming) you need an ND filter to be able to reduce the shutter speed and get some smooth footage. But what about photography?
There are polarized filters which can boost up your picture quality in special on sunny days when the sky is blue or you photograph water. A polarized filter will help to reduce the water reflection and glares which camera captures and increase the contrast/colours.
8. Have a look for patterns
When flying your drone you can see from above what other people can’t see: patterns, shapes, different symmetric forms etc.
There are places where those patterns are human-made such as parks and streets and some other where they have naturally occurred.
9. Consider this: aerial selfie
What do you have compared to other people who take daily selfies? A drone. Why not getting in the line with the world and have an aerial selfie done?
For the best success, find a unique composition background you can use for a selfie, then try to be creative. You just got the mother of all selfies 🙂
10. Expose the destruction of this world
Maybe the title is a bit too harsh, but if you are photographing a wildfire, ruins on the modern world or polluting factories from above and from a safe distance, your photos can have an incredible marketing value and can go viral very quickly.
11. Capture dividing lines
From all the tips of taking aerial photography, this is one of my favourites by far. I love taking photographs of dividing lines.
It can be either a country lane, tractor tires, or two fields of different colours, anything divided looks much better from the air.
12. Get to know your drone limits
Nothing hurts more than to see your drone is at 35% battery and is 3 miles away from you. If you don’t know your drone limitations and capabilities, you should not fly far at all.
The DJI drones will come with an assistant on the screen showing you all the required information to be able to make smart decisions, such as battery level and distance, when is safe to return, the wind speed, signal strength and even a map pinpointing your drone.
If ever happens that your drone is very far away from you and you have no battery left, try to land it somewhere safe and collect it. Use the logs from your device to reach it. Do not let it land by itself. It will land, for sure will not fall from the sky like a dead bird, but you have no idea where.
Also, I would recommend having some extra spare batteries. It is painful to know that you went 2 hours driving for an amazing spot to fly your drone and you will be able to fly for only 15 minutes.
Some drones can fly less than 15 minutes some other a bit more. Ensure that you know the actual flight time of your drone before going too far.
13. Phone calls in mid-air. Uh oh!
Is more than possible that you have connected your phone to the drone controller but what happens if somebody calls you when you have your drone mid-air?
The first thing your drone will do it will float because the connection was not interrupted. Is still there. What you have to do for sure and nothing else, REJECT THE CALL.
If there is an important call you have to answer while you fly your drone using your phone as main screen, the first thing you have to do is to press the button “RETURN HOME’ on your controller.
Make sure that you hear the return home sound before you start focusing on your phone conversation. And try not to disconnect your phone from the controller unless your drone has successfully landed, no matter how important is the call (unless that call costs more than a drone).
Alternatively, you can use a tablet to control your drone. It is safer due to bigger screen size and you cannot be disturbed with phone calls on your tablet (not with all the tablets)
14. Update and calibrate your drone before each flight.
This is not only to ensure that your gimbal is calibrated but all the sensor are working in optimal conditions, such as the compass, GPS strength etc. Update your firmware before getting your drone outdoors (and batteries too).
It happened to me more than once to forget to turn on my drone at home for any updates and when I got to the destination, I could not use my drone for over 30 minutes due to the low 3G network signal and internet connection required to update firmware for my drone and batteries.
Although the last three points are not photography related more like drone-related only, I wanted to share with you so you are aware not to do any crucial mistakes which can put your drone or others at risk.
Drone photography tips: Conclusion.
Before you go, I want to share some extra drone thoughts with you:
- Remember that you are responsible for each flight and to respect the drone laws of your country. Once more, if you are from the UK, you can have a read at my other post “UK DRONE LAWS and how to fly your drone safely in the UK“
- Although I recommend you to use your drone in a challenging situation, make sure you don’t do it wreckless. I am not responsible for other people actions resulted from reading this post.
- The drone is more than a toy or tool. If you are underage please make sure you have a responsible adult with you when using your drone and trying to take drone photographs.
- The photographs you took from using your drone are not to be sold or used in any monetization channel unless your drone is registered as a commercial drone. This is also covered in my other post mentioned above.
- Practice flying your drone in a safe environment outdoors before you get to send it far away, and ensure that you are capable of completing the task with no room for mistakes.
- Have a flight plan before you lift your drone from the ground. Hovering or flying around is not a flight plan and is not required in this case, but if you want to do more, ensure that you are aware of your actions and you know how to keep your drone safe and others.
- A free-falling drone from the sky can do a lot of damage, even kill a person. DJI drones are equipped with plenty of fail-safe mechanisms and they are pretty much safe to fly. Avoid flying any other cheap drones.
- Flying a racing drone is also your responsibility. Unless you fly in on a controlled environment or open field, I would not recommend doing it, or if you do it, do it at your own risk.
- If you got confused or distracted while flying your drone, press the pause button. The drone will hover in place until you decide the next move. The same goes if you get stuck in between obstacles and need to rethink your route.
- Using the intelligent drone modes such as active track, waypoints, tap to fly, terrain follow mode, hyperlapse, gesture mode and many other available for some drones, you use them at your own risk. Keep in mind that some drones may not be able to avoid obstacles as good as some other drones, therefore, there will be always risks involved.
- DJI drones have obstacle avoidance sensors. If you switch your drone to sport mode, those sensors are deactivated and the drone can fly with a speed of over 70km/h. That’s above the speed limit of a car in a city. Be mindful when and where you use the sport mode on your drone. As an instance, the DJI Mavic air fly faster than 70km/h in sport mode but the wifi signal is pretty weak. The live feed can get interrupted or lost when flying at such speed. I know because I own one.
Only in time,you will improve yourself in taking better photographs. Nobody is born ready, everyone we learn how to walk. Or to fly… That including myself.
I hope that after you are reading our drone photography tips, you take your drone and go outside to shoot some amazing pictures with it.
Fly safe and have a great sunny day!
You can check a few other posts from this website:
- UK DRONE LAWS – How to fly your drone safely in UK
- Are you picking a niche in photography? Should you do it?
- DJI Mavic Air – Full in-depth review
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