The Ultimate Guide To Drone Photography – For Beginners And Professionals

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My first brush with drone photography was when I bought one for personal use. At the time, drones were budding in popularity, and I was so enamored that I wanted to make a career out of them. Unfortunately, I was repeatedly told not to quit my day job.

I was so green. Luckily, there is so much online information on how to master drone photography. All you need is time and passion for knowledge. Let’s get started!

Buy the Right Drone for Your Needs

When you start looking for a drone, it can be overwhelming. There are many different kinds, and they come in all shapes and sizes. You should consider a few things to get the best drone for your photography needs.

Price

How much do you want to spend? If you are just starting, it’s best to get something affordable that will allow you to learn all the basics without burning a hole in your bank account. A good entry-level photography drone is usually between $150 and $300.

However, if you have some experience and want to upgrade from an older model, then feel free to splurge on more expensive options. Your budget will ultimately guide how much money is available for other features such as cameras and gimbals.

Features and Specifications

There are many different types of drones with cameras on offer today. Some only come with basic features such as GPS or return home functionality, while others have advanced features like obstacle avoidance or follow me mode etc., which allows them to fly autonomously. Choose wisely.

Do you need professional-quality photos? If so, go with something higher-end than most people would use for casual photography. Will you be taking videos too? If so, look into getting one with HD or even 360-degree video capabilities.

Use Camera Filters

Camera filters are a great way to enhance your drone photography. There are several different camera filters, each with its purpose. You can use them to correct the white balance, adjust contrast and color temperature, or even add a filter effect over your photo that simulates an old photo look.

Filters can be very useful when shooting in harsh sunlight (or any other condition where you need to modify light). They allow you to capture images that otherwise would have been difficult or impossible without them.

You can also achieve cosmetic effects by polarizing filters that reduce glare from windows/glass surfaces. These kinds of accessories come at low prices, too – some cost just ten dollars per piece, so you can experiment with them even on a tight budget.

Practice Flying First

Spend time learning all the controls, practicing flying in low light and high wind, and testing out each different flight mode. You should also practice landing before you take off with your camera attached—you don’t want to crash!

A good way of practicing this skill is by using an empty field or park as a safe place for your drone to land if it gets lost during filming. Just make sure there aren’t any trees around first! 

Additionally, some of the more expensive camera options can significantly increase the weight your drone has to carry. This affects the agility of your drone and your muscle memory.

If possible, try taking some photos before you start shooting video footage. You want to ensure that everything works properly without interrupting technical issues such as battery life or signal drops during playback.

The Best Time to Fly Your Photography Drone

The best time to fly your drone is early in the morning or late afternoon when there’s less wind and fewer people around. These times are ideal for those who are new to flying drones and aren’t yet comfortable with all the controls.

Flying your photography drone in bright sunlight is ideal because it’s easier to see and avoid obstacles when there’s plenty of light. The sun will also help you capture amazing detail in your images and videos that are much more vibrant than those taken at other times of the day.

Important Tips To Remember

If you’re new to flying drones or want to improve your skills, here are a few things to do to ensure you’re safe and have a good time.

Read Your Owner’s Manual

The first thing you should do when learning how to fly a drone is read the owner’s manual. The drone’s manufacturer will include information about its specifications, safety precautions, and operating instructions, which will help you get started.

Get To Know Your Controller

Learning how to fly a drone means using a controller first. Controllers come in two main forms: sticks and joysticks. Sticks are easier for beginners because they’re more intuitive, but joysticks are more precise and have more options for controlling the drone.

Charge Everything Before You Fly

Charging all of your batteries before each flight ensures that nothing goes wrong during take-off. It also helps prevent battery drainage in between flights.

Use Auto Take-off and Landing

Most drones come with auto take-off and landing features that allow them to take off without any input from the pilot or land without crashing into something on the ground below them.

Understand Your Drone’s Capabilities

Before taking off with a new drone, be sure that you understand its capabilities. For example, what does its maximum range allow for? What’s the maximum altitude? How long can it fly before needing to recharge? These are all questions worth asking before taking off with any drone.

Drone Photography Basics

The following are the settings that I use for most of my drone photography. These settings are a starting point and should be adjusted to suit your needs/style.

Camera Settings

The camera settings determine the quality of your footage, and they depend on what you’re trying to capture. Here are some recommended settings for drone photography:

Video Size – 4K, 30fps

Video resolution is measured in pixels. The higher the resolution, the more detail you’ll see. For example, 4K has four times as many pixels as 1080p (2160p vs. 1920 x 1080). If you’re shooting in 4K, you can crop in on an object farther away and maintain high-quality details. With this, you will need more storage capacity due to the high pixel count in each frame.

The frame rate determines how your camera records many frames per second (fps). You can choose from 2, 4, 8, 15, and 30 fps. The higher the number, the smoother the resulting video will look. The best frame rate for 4K drone photography is 30fps.

Format – MP4

The MP4 format is the industry standard for video files created by DJI drones. MP4 is compatible with most editing software such as Final Cut Pro X and iMovie. You can also export in other formats such as AVI or MOV, but those aren’t compatible with all editing software or devices.

Video System Standard – NTSC

NTSC stands for “National Television Standards Committee.” It’s a television standard in North America and Japan with a frame rate of 30 fps. The benefit of using NTSC is that you will have less compression when editing your footage because there are fewer pixels per frame than in other formats such as PAL or HD.

White Balance – Manual

White balance is a setting that varies the color temperature of your footage based on the lighting conditions in which you’re shooting. It’s a useful tool for more consistent coloring throughout your drone footage.

Setting it manually allows you to control how warm or cool your footage appears. If you shoot outside during the daytime and want to capture as much detail as possible, manually setting your white balance to neutral should do the trick.

Style – Custom, 0, -1, -1

Style is a custom setting that allows you to fine-tune your camera’s settings. These are all the same as in the standard camera settings. They allow you to adjust things like contrast, saturation, and sharpness. You can also add vignetting and grain. You get the best results when you set the style to custom 0, -1, and -1.

Color – D-Log

D-Log is a logarithmic curve profile that will give you a flatter image with more detail in shadows and highlights than a normal curve. This setting will be useful when shooting high dynamic range scenes or where the scene’s dynamic range exceeds what your camera can capture at once.

Basic Composition

Composition refers to the arrangement of the elements of a picture. It’s the art of putting together all those pieces to create something beautiful and captivating. Use these tips for the best drone photography results.

Leading Lines

Leading lines are a great way to draw the eye into the frame. For your photographs, you can use roads, rivers, and pathways as leading lines. Experiment with different angles until you find something that suits your shot.

Experiment With Height

If you’re using a drone, experiment with flying at different heights. Low angles look more dramatic, while high angles give the viewer a more revealing look at the photographed scene.

Look for Patterns and Symmetry

Patterns and symmetry are very effective in drone photography as they help balance out asymmetry in nature. Use trees as visual anchors in symmetrical compositions, while clouds can add interest and depth to an image without detracting from the main subject matter.

Shoot in Raw Format

When shooting landscapes or other types of images with many different tones of color, it’s best to shoot in raw format. You get more control over how these tones appear once processed by your editing software after taking the photo. You may need to perform some extra steps during this process, but it’s worth doing if you want your photos to look their best!

Use the Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a compositional technique that helps you create more interesting photos. It’s based on the idea that an image is more pleasing when the subject isn’t centered in the photo but rather positioned in one of the four “thirds” of the frame. The idea is to divide your frame into thirds, horizontally and vertically, so there are three horizontal lines and three vertical lines.

Stacking Images for Noise Reduction

When you take multiple scene exposures, you can combine them into a single image to reduce noise. This process is called stacking or averaging.

There are two different ways to stack images: You can either take multiple exposures at several different ISO settings (such as 100 ISO, 200 ISO, or 400 ISO) or use long exposure times with a tripod (such as 1 second, 2 seconds). Both methods will produce similar results — just remember that longer exposure times will give you darker images than shorter ones.

The Challenges of Drone Photography

Drone photography is all about freedom and creativity. There’s no better way to capture epic aerial shots than with a drone. But there are some challenges with drone photography that you need to be aware of before you start flying your camera drone.

Weather

Weather can be an unpredictable factor in drone photography, especially when you’re shooting landscapes. If it’s raining, snowing, or foggy, it’s not going to be easy flying your drone. The last thing you want is your drone crashing into the ground because of bad weather.

Crowds of people

When you’re taking photos with your drone, there must be no crowds of people around. It’s not just for safety reasons that you don’t want people around — they could also cause you to crash when flying low.

The Law

You must be aware of any laws surrounding drone flying in your area. Some countries have strict laws regarding drone flying, while others have more lenient ones. You may need to get a license before you can fly legally.

Restrictions

There may also be restrictions on where you can fly your drone. For example, in some places, you won’t be able to fly over private property without permission from the owner of that property first. In other places, you might be unable to fly anywhere near an airport or even over water if boats or ships are nearby.

Battery Life

You must always keep your drone powered. So even if your drone is equipped with a long-lasting battery, it’s still going to be hard to get more than 20 minutes’ flight time out of it — and that’s with no payload (i.e., camera) attached! If you’re planning on shooting for longer than that, you’ll need multiple batteries or a way to swap them out mid-session.

Shoot for the Sky!

If you’re looking for a new hobby and want to start taking amazing photos in the sky, then drone photography is the way to go. With all of the information and advice we’ve given today, you should be well on the way to becoming an expert. You might even be able to make some money off of it!

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Keith Moreau is the founder and chief editor at Flyver.co. His aim? Simple. Cut through the jargon and help you fly better and safer with your drone.

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