Tips For Improving Drone Photography: 8 Things You need to start doing now
Do you want to improve your drone photography? As we all know drones are one of the ways photographers and filmmakers give life to their shots. The drone has changed the perspective of photography to a better condition, thanks to international companies like DJI, Parrot, Yunees, Kespry, Sony, and others dedicating their craft to creating something as great and unique as that.
A drone which is the acronym for Dynamic Remotely Operated Navigation Equipment is a small aircraft used in military surveillance by armed forces and also for taking aerial shots by photographers and filmmakers.
If you are looking for the best drone then here is a list
DJI MARVIC 3
But come to think of it, the fact that drones are great ways to improve photography and literally anyone can lay their hands on it doesn’t mean everyone can take good quality shots with it. It all boils down to knowing the camera settings, how to use them, where and when to use them.
Irrespective of your type of drone, you can take good and quality shots with it, if you aren’t then you are not doing any of the tips listed below
8 Basic Tips For Improving Drone Photography
1. Make detailed research before planning your shoots:
The importance of making necessary preparations cannot be emphasized. The first part of the preparations is your research process. Just like any other type of photography, research is also an application when using drones. Do some findings on the location you want to use.
Is there any law against drones flying here?
Is this place suitable for a flying drones?
These are the questions you should ask when making your research, places close to airports are not suitable for flying drones. I have had a few of my friends arrested and detained for flying drones in a restricted area and of course, they were released but believe me, you don’t want to go through that.
There are some applications you can find on the play store or app store to make your research process easier, applications as Drone assist and airmap.
You should also do some research on the visual level of your preferred location. To get a detailed view before the day of your shots, you can use Google map or Earth which are available on the play store and app store as well. They make it possible to get an aerial view of the location. Making a research is not enough, you should know what hour of the day to shoot which will be discussed next.
2.Shoot at the Golden Hour
Shooting at the golden hour or magic hour is applicable in all types of photography including drone photography. The golden hour is the last hour before the sunset and the first hour after the sunrise. It is always advisable to shoot at these hours of the day because it has beautiful natural light that makes the photographer’s work easier due to its warm, directional and soft lights.
With some special paid applications like the photographer’s ephemeris ( TPE ) and photopills, you can accurately get where the sun will be at a particular time, the rising and setting angle of the sun and moon on google maps.
It is understandable that drone photography makes shooting time longer and as such you might not be able to get all your shots at the golden hour of the day, but don’t panik because you can also use the other features of these apps as well.
You can take your shots with the sun behind by using the applications mentioned above to plan your mid day shots if you can’t keep up with the golden hours of the day. If you want to get equally lit scenes with less shadows in mid-day, you can take your shots with the sun behind the drone after you must have planned your shots with the photographer’s ephemeris and photopills.
You can either shoot raw images or JPEG but when it comes to drone photography, one has more advantages than the other which is discussed in the next.
3.Shoot raw images instead of JPEG
Unlike any other camera, drone cameras possess small sensors that make the images shot have lesser qualities. So it is better to capture raw images that can later be edited in Lightroom, camera raw or other image editing softwares.
Making the mistakes of shooting in jpeg makes the image less better than raw images, why?
If by any chance, your picture doesn’t come out well, the editing you can make on it will be limited unlike shooting raw where you can make and edit several copies out of the original without touching or distorting it.
4. Use the right settings before flying the drone
It is necessary to know your drone’s aperture and use the right settings before flying it. Some drones comes with adjustable apertures while some comes with fixed apertures. For drones with adjustable apertures, you can shoot in auto, manual, aperture or shutter priority. Drones with fixed apertures are easier to use because you can only adjust the Iso & Shutter speed.
Apart from the aperture setting, you should also know when to shoot at low iso settings or high. The higher the iso level the higher the unwanted noise and grain you will get in your image. Shooting with low iso level usually results in high quality, so if you are not doing this before then you should start doing it.
Factors that can affect how high or low your Iso level is the light condition. When you are shooting in a bright location with sufficient light, try setting your Iso as low as possible but when you are shooting in low light or dark place then you can increase it to prevent a shaky or motion blurry image.
Unlike drones with adjustable apertures, you should pay attention to the Iso, autofocus and shutter Speed when shooting with fixed aperture drones
5. Get a Polarizing Filter
Polarizing Filter or polarizer helps to manage reflections and reduces the glazes from lakes or sea. If you are flying the drone at least 300 fts above the ground, oy is usually advisable to use polarizer for protecting the lens because it will make the images pop out.
Polarizing filters are better used when shooting in a bright setting. It reduces the capacity of light that reaches the camera sensor so it is advisable not to use it at night or in a low light setting. Other lenses cannot get rid of reflections or improve contrast but polarizers can.
6. Use the rule of third
The rule of third is a guideline for composition where the frame is divided into 9 equal sized rectangles by two horizontal and vertical lines. With this, you can place your subject well in the right or left third of the image excluding the other two thirds. Now, how can you use the rule of thirds to better your drone photography?
The rule of third grids and diagonal lines are useful for composition of shots. All the 9 squares meets at a point called the *power point* which is the center. Having this guide visible will help make sure that you compose your subjects well in the right frame.
To ensure that you do not loose details of clip shadows, make sure you use the histogram guide ( Histogram will guide you from losing details ). To use the histogram guide, ensure the right side of the histogram and the right side of the box are very close without touching it.
7. Shoot Using Auto Exposure Bracketing ( AEB )
With auto exposure bracketing, the drone cameras can automatically take multiple exposures with different values. Unlike DSLR or mirrorless cameras, the drone cameras don’t have the natural density graduated filters ( ND grades ) for controlling the exposure in high contrast scenes. So the option to use in place of this is the AEB.
To use this, shoot in raw mode as explained in number 3, use the AEB and set to five exposures to give a base exposure, under or over exposed images. After shooting in raw, transfer to Adobe Lightroom to blend together by clicking on photo = photo merge = HDR ( high dynamic range ) then select the five images.
8. Shoot the Images in portrait mode with vertorama
Vertorama can also be called vertical panorama because it is a panorama shot vertically. This type of shot is the best for shooting because most drones cannot rotate their camera into an upright position, so you have to capture the images in portrait mode using a manual approach.
If you want to shoot with vertorama, you have to use the traditional horizontal panorama method but this time you shoot by moving your drone camera up or down each time vertically so that your shots can overlap, you can shoot three or four images.
After shooting you will have to edit and blend them together on Lightroom. To get this done, follow the step below
Load your light room and edit the landscape shots
Select all of the images using the shift key.
Export them into one folder.
Load your Photoshop, Go to file, click on automate and then photo merge
Look for source file and click on *use to folder*, leave the layout set to auto and check the ‘blend images together*
Click on *ok*
The images will be merged into portrait mode, after then you can crop then image and apply the final processing.
If you have been searching for a way to improve your drone photography then this tips will definitely help you achieve that. When shooting in bright light, the iso settings will determine the quality of your shots, for this reason you should consider lowering it by using between 100-400. Will you be trying out this tips for improving drone photography?, Let us know in the comments section.
Article Written By:
Yusuf Olamilekan Dauda