With the advent of drones being easily available and accessible, capturing aerial images is not hard anymore. The drone, a flying sky high unmanned camera has been the most sought after development in the world of photography in recent times. Almost like a remote-controlled toy for those obsessed with photography in general, drones are as fun as they are revolutionary.
Unlike how it was initially when drones were new to the market, as the demand for drones has increased, the prices have significantly reduced. However still, the entire process of getting the hang of proper, quality drone images remains a challenge – but we got you.
Here are nine steps that should help you get through your journey to mastering drone photography-
- Pick a drone that REALLY suits you
Running a simple google search will land you to a world of drones that can be rather overwhelming. There are so many options that it is rather easy to get carried and end up choosing a drone that really is not for you and your needs, but you bought it anyway because it was attractive.
So what should one consider when getting a drone?
The two most common types of drones you can choose from are those with a built-in or on-board camera and those of which you can attach your own. Drones with a built-in camera are often larger, and their cameras might not have a very high resolution—which can compromise the quality of your photos. Smaller drones which allow you to attach your own camera, such as a GoPro, on the other hand, could be easier to manage since you already have the hang of your camera and really only need to learn how to fly.
Most importantly, you have to first know how well are you at flying a drone? For a beginner, it is rather pragmatic to look for a drone that is sturdier and lighter. The advanced drones are not only more expensive for a beginner, but also, are equipped with a lot of advanced features that are not necessary for a beginner. So the dig here is to look for a drone that actually matches your skillset and not go by the price.
Secondly, you also need to know what purpose you need the drone for, or what the drone can do for you. Some drones can only be flown indoors and some are even equipped with lighting features that can be used for night photography. Some fly farther and some do not go that high up. So check out the features and study the specifications in detail to choose what best suits your individual needs. You might even consider watching videos or reading reviews before your big investment.
- Devote some time to the drone instruction manual
The first instinct that would come to any photography enthusiast would be to fire up that drone – however, the practical approach should be quite the opposite. In order to actually nail the drone game, you have to get to studying and gathering applicable knowledge.
The instruction manual is your bible to the drone. If you are equipped with the knowledge and know-how of your drone, you will mostly spend less time trying to get better shots. The manual will also answer questions that you probably didn’t even think you had in the first place.
- Understand the features of the machine
Each drone offers different features to optimise the flying time and efficiently shoot the drone up in the air. The features will vary for each brand and that is also where the aforementioned manual comes into play. However, some typical features you will encounter are mansplained here-
Drones offer various features that help optimize your flying time. Learning these will ensure you shoot efficiently with your drone.
- Smartphone Feed
The smartphone feed allows you to see what exactly the drone is capturing on your smartphone, which maximises your chances of getting the right shot
- Smart Mode
This mode lets all beginners get their best shots even in unforeseen circumstances. Consider smart mode an easy-flying mode that makes the drone easier to handle. Unless you get the hang of drone flying and are ready to fly manually, this is the mode to pick
A lot of drones have the ‘follow-me’ option that enables the drone to follow you. Along with the visual recognition with your smartphone’s GPS, this mode helps take the perfect picture.
This feature disables your drone to go beyond invisible, restricted areas. The moment you try to fly the drone beyond the set boundaries, the drone would not go any further. Some drones also have a limit to how high it flies.
4. Learn the federal, state, and local drone regulations
Since the access to the drones and the number of people owning it has increased, so has the risk that it brings along. A lot of regulations are being drawn up by the authorities as to who can pilot a drone, how and within what limits. For example, in the USA, drones of certain weights require registration. So before you can actually fly it, it needs to be accounted for – just like a car. There are also regulations like you cannot fly your drone within certain limits like that of airports or military sensitive areas. Hence, it is only practical to know what you can do with your drone without getting into any legal hassles.
5. Prepare a pre-flight checklist
Just like the pilots of commercial, full-size aircraft, a drone pilot also needs to have a pre-flight check in place. A pre-flight checklist will ensure that you have everything you need before you fly and will also ensure that your drone and everything/everyone in its surroundings is safe. Fly zone, Surroundings, Battery, Propellers, Motor, and Controls should be some of the most important check items.
6. Test drive the drone before you go all-in
Do not take the rash road, do not step into tragedy – always test drive your drone before actually starting to take pictures from it. All drones fly differently, hence, drone flying and control is all about practising until you get a significant control on how you do it. The smarter thing to do, when first flying your drone, fly it in a larger area like that of a playground or a big parking space instead of flying it in your backyard. This will help avoid damages to the drone as well as the surroundings in case of loss of control.
7. Learn drone photography techniques
A few tips are to be kept in mind before taking out your new toy to the ground. There really is no point being half-aware and travelling to a beautiful spot, only to end up getting hazy, low-quality pictures. It is not uncommon for even great photographers to actually forget the fundamentals of photography when flying a drone.
- All the rules of general photography apply to drone photography and hence, it is essential to brush up the rules like that of the rule of thirds, leading lines, and the golden ratio
- While soaring the drone, keep a lookout for symmetry and patterns. By keeping a track, you will be able to find interesting topography and patterns that might help find some unforgettable shots
- Just because it is drone photography, there is no need to make things complex. Keep your pictures simple; just as when you focus on one subject in ground photography, focus, be aware and celebrate your subject
- Do not go too fast and focus on some stability when using the drone to get the best shot. Also, make full use of light – shooting at particular times can also create striking patterns
8. Devote time to post-production of photos
Just like regular photography, even aerial photography needs to be touched up. Drone photography relies a lot on the post-production of the picture to really make it shine. As easy it may sound, processing the drone images takes a lot of technique and practise just like clicking the pictures in the first place. This is essential because editing a picture while considering the difference in angles and lights is a skill set that comes with persistence.
A lot of third party softwares like Lightroom and Photoshop are used by drone photographers. As taxing as it may appear, it is a truth – a good photographer is also a marvellous editor.
9. Check-List the essential accessories
Drones also can be paired with various add ons like different kinds of lenses on a regular camera. Using certain additional elements to your drone can often yield a high-quality picture and also improve the flying of the device
Drones are not very big on battery life yet. An average drone would last for ten minutes while a high-end could last for up to 25 minutes. It would be a good idea to invest in extra batteries as you would not want to spend a lot of time with the charger and lose your flying enthusiasm midway
- Propeller Guards
Crashing of drones in trees and buildings is something every aerial photographer can swear by. Getting propeller guards not only saves the propellers from damaging in such events but also, avoids minor injuries that can take place if a person gets too close to it
- Extra Propellers
Propellers are very delicate, detachable and light which makes them vulnerable to get lost. Since they do not cost a fortune, considering buy an extra pair would be a good choice
- Extra memory cards
It would be a total turn off to have not captured your best shot because you ran out of memory. Invest in a memory card with higher GB capacity as even just a 2 minute 4k video on a drone can take up to 1GB.
You could also, at a later stage, invest in fascinating accessories like a mini drone landing pad that makes sure your UAV does not land on a potentially dangerous surface. Adding LED lights will ensure you never lose your dear drone even in darkness. drone. Plus, it looks sweet. But all said and done, it still remains the bittersweet truth that mastering drone photography takes effort and persistence – more than anything else in the game. It can be tricky, tedious and demanding but with practice, it is not impossible – and rather rewarding!