6 tips for better aerial photography with a drone

The following article is written by Thomas Foster who is an owner of website bestquadwithcamera.com and a quadcopter enthusiast.

So you have a drone, and now you want to make better pictures? Here are 6 tips to get started:

Brendan Wong/SkyPixel
Brendan Wong/SkyPixel

Choose the right time: The landscape can change dramatically over the year, and even through a day. Try shooting the same spot at different times to see the differences, or if there’s one specific shot you want, pay attention to where the sun will be to avoid unwanted shadows.

Some photographers swear by shooting at “The Golden Hour,” which is generally the first hour of light after sunrise, and the last hour of light before sunset. The sun is low in the sky, producing a diffused soft light that provides the opposite effect to harsh midday sun shadows.

Adjust the camera settings: The key factors you need to understand are ISO, shutter speed and aperture.

ISO: indicates the level of sensitivity of your camera to light. A low ISO number (ie. 100 or 200) indicates low sensitivity to available light. Photographers on a bright, sunny day would want a low ISO. A high ISO number indicates high sensitivity to light, which you would want if you were shooting indoors or at night. The higher the ISO, the more grain you will see in your images.

Victor Wang/SkyPixel
Victor Wang/SkyPixel

Shutter Speed: This is the amount of time a camera shutter is open to allow light into the sensor. Slow shutter speeds allow more light in and are ideal for shooting at night, but could also cause more blur. High shutter speeds allow less time for light to enter the sensor, meaning your picture could turn out darker. The photo above has a relatively slow shutter speed to show the motion of the cars.

Aperture: this is the size of the hole within the lens. The larger the hole, the more light that enters. This gives a flatter picture, and is generally ideal for landscapes, which are common for drone photography. The small the hole, the more depth of field, which is often used in portraits.

Try FPV flyingFPV (first person view) is a method used to control a drone from the pilot’s viewpoint, meaning you see what the drone sees through a separate video feed, often on a mobile device or goggles. It’s ideal for precise flight.

Invest in a gimbal: For videographers, a gimbal stabilizes the camera to remove any shaking or sudden movements. The gimbal is a device that allows the camera to rotate around the drone on an axis. Many off-the-shelf drones now come with gimbals, but if yours doesn’t come with one, it is well worth the investment to purchase one separately and mount it yourself.

Keith Bremner/SkyPixel
Keith Bremner/SkyPixel

Change your viewpoint: The great thing about a drone is you don’t need to move to change your viewpoint, you just have to move the drone. Shoot a scene from all directions — it will appear differently based on the shadows from the sun, or the landscape itself. Experiment with shooting a scene with the camera pointed straight ahead, downwards, or somewhere in between.

Manuel Torres/SkyPixel
Manuel Torres/SkyPixel

•Edit your photos: A little photo editing goes a long way, and can help correct brightness, exposure, color or basic composition techniques, such as the rule of thirds. Learn the basics of Photoshop (ideal for editing individual photos) or Lightroom (ideal for maintaining a large number of photos).

3 thoughts on “6 tips for better aerial photography with a drone”

  1. That’s so cool that drones can help you get amazing viewpoints for your photographs. I’ve always liked the idea of using a drone for photography, but I didn’t know if they actually helped get good photographs. From what you’ve shared, I can see that using a drone can actually be quite helpful for getting the right photo from the right viewpoint. Thanks for sharing this article!

  2. I must say, the pics are really amazing. The clicks are awesome. The use of drones for photography is getting huge popularity with the passage of time. The tips for drone photography are beneficial and interesting too. I have used the same for taking a few pics from my DJI Phantom 3.
    But I would like to add two more points in this blog. You must consider the weather conditions for getting the perfect clicks. Also consider different types of lights that can bring a huge difference in your pictures.

Leave a Reply