The drone is without a doubt the wildest photographic development in recent times. Today, it is possible to capture aerial images of some of the most impressive (and sometimes difficult to reach) places in the world. And as the desire for drones continues to rise, the price is dropping, making it easier than ever to have a camera in the air.
But with so many factors to consider, whether you’re planning to pursue drone photography or have already purchased one, getting started can be challenging. To get started, this post will give you an ultimate guide to drone photography. Read on!
Picking The Perfect Drone
Choosing a drone involves a selection process that must consider the technical specifications, features, and technologies of the devices. As there are several models available on the market, you need to know what your goals are with the drone. Below are some of the things that are crucial when purchasing a drone.
Drone Battery Life & Flight Time
This is one of the most important things to consider. Even the most expensive drones on the market rarely fly for more than 30 minutes of use.
So, what is the average flight time you intend to use the drone? Is it for professional purposes, for longer flights, or is it for recreational purposes, with shorter flights? By answering these questions, you will be able to find a drone that suits your need.
Drone Distance Ability
The second factor to consider is the flight distance allowed by the drone. This is influenced by the drone’s radio capacity and battery capacity.
It is noteworthy that the maximum allowed distance for the drone to fly is the one in which the pilot can still see the aircraft. Thus, it becomes necessary to purchase some binoculars for certain use cases.
If you are more focused on recordings, photography, and mapping, you should look for a model that allows operation at greater distances. On the other hand, if you want to have short and visual flights, then look for drones with shorter flight distances.
Video Resolution / Image Quality
There are drones with a built-in camera, but that’s not always the case. In some cases, the component comes as a removable, user-replaceable accessory. There are also simpler models, which dispense with them completely.
Recording quality is another factor that can vary greatly depending on the price and version of the chosen drone. There are drones with a more professional profile, which have cameras with 4K resolution, support for HDR and RAW format for photography, in addition to the ability to make videos with very high bitrates (the rate that defines quality).
It is possible to find simpler alternatives with Full HD resolution cameras. Although they don’t reach the raw quality of 4K, these options can please you with good quality video to record your walks, trails, and trips.
The size of a drone must also be taken into consideration when purchasing. This can be a relevant feature for those who intend to use the drone on trails, tours, and trips. There are extremely compact drones, which can be easily stored in specific cases and transported inside a common backpack.
Therefore, it is important that you evaluate the drone measurements before purchasing and confirm it comes with a backpack or briefcase.
Drone Flying Modes
An easier flight and a better stabilization of the aircraft need some control resources. Like GPS, Alt Hold, Headless, smart flight modes, among others. And each of these has a specific price range and functions.
A. GPS: Present in more expensive and professional devices for providing the best level of stabilization among those mentioned.
B. ALTITUDE HOLD: An alternative to GPS technology, but which provides stabilization only vertically and not horizontally.
C. HEADLESS: This is a setting that facilitates drone operation, especially for beginners. Well, it gives the drone the ability to change its axis of movement according to its orientation in relation to the pilot.
D. ADVANCED FLIGHT MODES: Usually depend on the presence of the GPS and can be observed in the equipment manual.
For recreational use, maybe the Hold and Headless options are enough, making the price of the device cheaper.
For professional use, the presence of GPS is minimal, and flight modes can greatly facilitate the work and increase the safety of the flight. It is also worth mentioning the importance of complying with regulations for drone pilots.
Finally, you need to define a price range in which you intend to spend and define the store where the drone will be purchased. Since there is the possibility of buying your drone in local stores and in foreign stores.
In the second case, it is worth remembering that not all models are approved to fly in certain countries. Thus, it is necessary to ratify them as soon as you buy them in order to avoid major problems and to avoid the seizure of the device.
Drone Photo Tips
1. CHECK UAV FORECAST
First, before starting your drone for a photo session, you need to check the UAV, which will provide you with information of paramount importance for your safety.
The UAV will report the area limitation, weather forecast, and other relevant information. All these precautions can prevent serious accidents and provide you with an incredible experience in capturing aerial photos with your drone.
2. SHOOT IN RAW FORMAT
With this, you will be able to obtain data from the images without having to compress them. Therefore, the amount of detail as well as the photo’s resolution, sharpness, and brightness can be preserved. This will allow the adjustments to be made without looking like the photo is artificial, like JPEG images that have low resolution.
Most modern drones have built-in cameras that support the RAW format for images. However, if you have a modular drone that allows you to change the camera, be sure to get one that allows you to record in RAW format.
3. USE CAMERA LENS FILTERS
The use of lens filters is crucial for working in poor lighting conditions. Thus, filters help to control the light that reaches the sensor. That is, they reduce reflections and even enhance colors. Therefore, filters are really essential to help you get better results from your photos.
However, there are several filter options, and each one has a specific purpose. So, before purchasing a filter, evaluate the types of photos you usually take or want to take. In addition, consider the time of day and the environment in which you will take the photos, as these factors are essential in deciding which filter to buy.
4. REDUCE ISO
Drone cameras often have smaller sensors which consequently do not have effective functionality at high ISO settings. Above all, if you’re taking pictures or recording in night mode, high lighting shouldn’t be an issue, and you don’t need to use the High ISO setting. In general, you should keep the ISO as low as possible so as to get cleaner and sharper images.
5. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF AEB (AUTO EXPOSURE BRACKETING)
Some drone models have the AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) feature that helps in capturing more realistic photos with a high dynamic range.
Thus, it is possible to take the same photo multiple times at different angles and settings. Therefore, you can select the photo with the best exposure levels or combine them into a single photo and use the best parts of each photo.
Such an option is extremely useful when you want to save time and get properly exposed photos without the need to take several test shots or create high-quality HDR images.
6. LIGHTS AND SHADOWS
As the main element present in photos, light plays an extremely important role in determining the tonality, vibration, composition, and message that your photo conveys.
Therefore, shooting with a drone gives you the opportunity to view the lights and shadows from a different perspective, especially when the sun is rising or setting, and be impressed by the effects shown in the photos.
Legal Requirements for Flying Drones
The world of civil aerial drones falls into two categories: Recreational and Commercial drones. Thus, the law distinguishes on the one hand drones intended for recreational purposes (e.g., drone races), and on the other hand drones for commercial use (e.g., photography, audiovisual, cinema, topographical surveys, etc.). Therefore, subject to specific requirements, you will be required to have the authorization to use the drone.
In general, recreational drone laws are in some ways more lax than commercial ones. However, line of sight remains pivotal.
For instance, in the US, a recreational drone user must register their drone with the FAA and fix the identification (number obtained in the registration process) in a visible place of the drone and with non-flammable material.
(We are not attorneys and this should not be considered legal advice.)
Other common rules regarding drone flying are:
• Don’t fly near airports or airfields
• Fly below 120 meters (400 feet’s)
• Only fly in areas that are at least 50 meters away from people. However, it is possible to fly closer when they are aware of the flight or when there is a mechanical barrier between them and the aircraft)
Of course, different countries will have different regulations that regard the use of drones. Therefore, find and read them to avoid problems when flying.
Photographs taken with the aid of drones have become very popular not only among professionals but also among hobbyists. But whatever your goal, to get the best shots, you need to know how to make the most of the camera and the drone’s features.