A drone can offer a unique perspective to the human eye, and endless compositional possibilities – no wonder aerial drone photography is such a booming community. Whether you are a casual flier looking for a few photography tips or a total beginner, we have you covered.
Understanding your drone safety
A drone is a highly sophisticated piece of technology, and it’s important that new pilots know how to use one correctly, and what to do if obstacles like losing signal or critical battery failure occur – read the manuals, and understand your drone.
Given rules around privacy and public safety, there are several regulations in Australia around flying your drone. Head to the CASA website for more details.
The forecast will play a big part in the pieces you create – you’ll need to take the weather report into consideration before taking flight. It’s recommended to avoid rain and snow unless you’re using a weatherproof drone; windy days could create blur in your images as well as drain your battery more quickly, while super sunny days can result in lots of shadow play in your work. As always, taking flight during Golden Hour will give the most appealing results.
Practice safe flights
As they say, practice makes perfect. Before filming or taking epic shots from the sky, it’s important to know how your drone works, how to fly in different conditions, how gimbal control functions, and your drone’s different flight modes.
There are some basics to know to help you get the most out of your photos. Since you are shooting from a drone, keep the shutter speed high: this will stop blur leaking into your image. Even if you are stationary, a little bit of wind could affect your whole finished product. The easiest way to achieve best results is through Shutter Priority mode. Another easy basic to miss is ensuring you are shooting in a RAW file mode – this will give you more control over your images when editing later, and less restrictions than if using JPEG.
Play with angles
Typically, photographers always shoot at a height of seven feet or less from the ground. Drones now allow you a whole new perspective to photograph. While it is tempting to fly as high as possible to take your pictures, it’s worth experimenting with as many angles – of your drone and gimbal – as possible.
Once you have finished flying and snapping your images, it’s time to edit and finalise them. Whether you are using Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop or editing off an app, this is where you can let your personality come out in your pictures.
Rule of thirds
Like standard photography, the rule of thirds is an essential composition technique for beginners.
Imagine there’s a three-by-three grid laid over your location. Instead of placing your subject right in the middle of the shot, you should place your subject along one of the lines of the grid. The points where the lines intersect are particularly strong areas of focus, so place important elements of the image there, if you can.
Isolation techniques in aerial photography can have amazing results. Place your subject in the dead centre of the shot and fly vertically until you are happy with the framing.
This composition technique comes to life when you complement two opposing contrasts with each other. Think a cliffside shot of an old Italian town, or where bushland and oceans meet on the Great Ocean Road, for inspiration.
While tradition would say that vertical and horizontal lines are ideal for composition, aerial photography encourages the shooter to embrace nature’s natural curves and asymmetrical beauty. There is more risk in pulling the viewer’s eye to your intended subject this way, but hey – art is subjective. Get out there and get creative.
DRONES TO OWN:
DJI Mini SE
The littlest member of the DJI family, the Mini is a perfect starting point if you’re dipping your toes in the air. Ultralight and compact and with a 30-minute flight time, this little guy will get you taking epic aerial shots in no time.
DJI Mavic Air 2 4K Drone
The DJI is the quiet overachiever. Stronger and faster than the Mini, the Air 2 boasts 48MP images (more than most DSLR cameras) and 4K video.