Advanced Drone Photography Tips: Planning and Strategy
- Choose a Strategy First
- Planning Details - The Beginning Stage
- Plan Your Flight Around the Shots
- Storyboard Your Shots
- Check and Monitor Conditions
- Pre-Flight Check
- Fly Through / Shoot Though
- Shoot Extra and Edit
- Make It Fun
Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels
The best results often come about due to good planning. Same is true in photography, videography, and advanced drone photography. Strategy and planning are essential steps for how to plan a drone photo shoot.
For our examination of landscape photography with a drone, we’ll consider overall strategy and how to plan to reach the goal of your strategy.
Table of Contents
Choose Strategy First
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Every stage of planning will depend on deciding on a basic strategy. Early on in our planning stage, we will choose if we are shooting video, still images, or a combination of both. If we are shooting video only, that will cause us to choose smoother flight modes. If we are shooting still images, we can fly quickly to get into position then stabilize for the shots.
We can also decide ahead of time if we are shooting A-Roll or B-Roll for video, or what type of landscape still image we are wishing to capture. Do we want a high level scenic view? A point of view closer to ground level and the subject? Or something in between?
Once the basic overall strategy is determined, then we can start working on how to plan a drone photo shoot. The planning is where the details are.
Planning Details - The Beginning Stage
A good place to start with drone photography planning tips is to remind yourself of the capabilities and limitations of your drone photography gear. Thankfully, the newest drones have a lot of capabilities that we can incorporate into our overall strategy.
As a good example of this, if we look at the DJI Mavic line of drones, it’s more a matter of certain models adding extra features and capabilities than anything else.
The DJI Mavic Mini is a modest budget option drone that is also below the weight limit for certain restrictions and regulations concerning drone photography and flying. Yet, within its extremely light weight, it boasts features and capabilities that can capture high resolution still images and high quality video.
It also has advanced flight modes for specialty images and video, plus a 30 minute battery range. Controlled from your own iPhone, this is a powerful choice either as your first drone or as a nice lower cost upgrade from an earlier generation drone.
Their mid-range option, the DJI Mavic Air 2, upgrades your capabilities with a larger sensor camera for even more resolution and higher quality video recording. It adds a faster top flight speed and slightly longer battery life, as well as even more sophisticated flight modes to give you more shooting or filming options.
For professionals or anyone else requiring the highest quality imaging and video, it’s hard to beat the DJI Mavic 2 Pro with the best in class 20MP Hasselblad L1D-20c gimbal camera, improved flight performance, and live video remote feed from over 5 miles away. Just think of all you could do with that.
Plan Your Flight Around the Shots
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When shooting landscape photography with a drone, the primary goal is to come back with great images or video footage.
Some variables will need to be factored in. You can take these advanced drone photography tips in any order you desire, find a method or routine that works for you.
Storyboard Your Shots
photo by Erdark via iStock
Whether still imaging or shooting video, an important step is the storyboard. You could label it as a flight plan or a mapping out of your drone photography trek. It’s very close to our standard photo and video methodology of visualizing the results ahead of time and then finding a way to get to that desired end.
In landscape photography with a drone, sometimes the mapping out is quite literal. You need to know where you’re going, what flight issues change and where that might happen, and what will show from your position at certain times of the day.
Check and Monitor Weather Conditions
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Weather forecasts are a good resource. Another option is to monitor in real time with a smartphone app. If you’re going to rely on a phone app, you should check coverage in the shooting area.
Some beautiful areas for drone photography are out of range of some networks. Besides the drone flight conditions, this is also a safety tip, especially if inclement weather may be a possibility.
Photo by Kyle Loftus from Pexels
You should have all of your gear clean, charged up, with imaging cards ready before you get to the location for your landscape drone photography. Before powering up to start flying and shooting, check it all again.
Few things are more disappointing than coming back with bad images or nothing at all. A pre-flight check as part of your regular routine will help minimise the danger of that happening.
A pre-flight checklist is also part of the regulations for certain categories of drones, which you already know because of passing the certification for those drones.
Fly Through / Shoot Through
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Especially if your landscape drone photography includes video footage, you will benefit from this tip. Begin filming before your storyboard start point and keep filming after your scene. This gives you some extra video to work with in editing.
It can make the transitions go smoothly and you don’t accidentally miss anything you planned on capturing. “Lights, Camera, Action” is in that order for good reason. Set exposure and flight mode, start recording, and then fly your drone through the shoot.
Shoot Extra and Edit
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Another of the advanced drone photography tips that doubles as a drone video tip is to shoot more and edit it down. This is not a Spray and Pray style of shooting, where you just keep filming and hope you get to capture something good.
Each of your drone photography shots or video scenes can have the potential of being the game winner. Giving ourselves more to work with allows for a possibly more discerning editing session.
Having good editing habits will increase our capabilities and consistency a lot more than most equipment upgrades will give us. We have a lot of options for tutorials and training, plus experience will teach us as well.
Make It Fun
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Even pro baseball players tell me they have fun doing their job. Drone photography is very enjoyable. Just look at all the articles we write about it.
Learn what you need, then get out and shoot. Develop a strategy, plan it out, and enjoy the ride.