Drone Photography Tutorial: How to Take Killer Photos
These days, it seems like if you aren't using drones for photography that you're a bit behind the times.
I've got a DJI Mavic Pro that I fly and I absolutely love it. They say that taking photos from different perspectives is a great way to improve your photos, and getting up above it all with a drone is certainly a way to do that!
But taking photos with the best drone for photography can be a little intimidating, even if you're an experienced photographer.
That being the case, here's a few drone photography tips to help you get started.
Drone Photography Tips: Plan It Out and Get the Timing Right
Just like with any other kind of photography, it behooves you to plan out your photo shoots when you use a drone.
Google Earth is a prime tool for doing this because you can get a top-down satellite view as well as a 3D view of the terrain.
Just look for interesting landforms, buildings, webs of roadways, and so forth, and you'll be much better prepared to get your drone in the right place for the best-quality images.
Another planning tip you can't overlook is your timing.
Again, just like when you're taking photos on the ground, golden hour affords you the best light of the day to get high-quality shots.
But because you're above it all, not only do you get to capture the beautiful colors of the sunrise or sunset, but you can also provide a view of how that gorgeous light interacts with the landscape below.
Adjust the Camera Settings for the Best Drone Photography
Far and away, you'll get the best photos if you shoot in manual mode.
With complete control over the exposure settings, you can avoid blown out highlights or detail-free shadows and instead get a well-exposed image no matter the subject.
On a DJI drone like the Mavic Pro, set the ISO to 100 to minimize the camera's sensitivity to light and minimize digital noise as well.
Leave the white balance setting on auto, and be sure that you're shooting in RAW so you have as much data for post-processing as possible.
Lastly, set the image size to 4:3. This will give your images more resolution than if you shoot in 16:9 format.
Outfit Your Drone With Filters
Just like a typical DSLR can take improved photographs when you use lens filters, you can get much-improved photos from your drone if you equip its lens with the right filters as well.
When it comes to must-have filters, a circular polarizer and a few neutral density filters should be at the top of your list.
SANDMARC makes a Pro Plus 6-Filter kit that's specifically designed for use with the Mavic Pro (though they have kits for other DJI products, too).
Included in the kit is a circular polarizing filter that helps minimize glare, increase contrast, and reduce atmospheric haze so you can capture the beauty of the landscape below in full detail.
In addition, the kit has five neutral density filters from 2-stop to 6-stop.
Neutral density filters allow you to slow down the shutter to capture beautiful motion effects, like blurry clouds and water that create dreamy elements in your photos.
SANDMARC's DJI neutral density filters are also polarized, so you get the advantages of a polarizer and a neutral density filter in one.
These filters are made of industrial grade, multi-coated glass and weigh less than 1 gram each. That means you get a high-quality filter that won't weigh down your drone and reduce performance.
If videography is your thing, these filters will only help you create dynamic and beautiful footage.
You'll get smoother, better-exposed aerial shots, motion blur for a natural look in your videos, and improved dynamic range for contrasty images and videos that leap off the screen.
If you want to maximize your ability to get top-notch drone photos, these filters are a must!
Don't take my word for it though - see SANDMARC's filters in action in the video above.
Vary the Camera Angle
Though shooting out across a landscape can provide you with gorgeous vistas to photograph, don't discount a true bird's eye view as being a compelling angle from which to shoot.
By looking directly down on the landscape, you can highlight colors, shapes, patterns, and textures more easily.
That's because looking straight down affords the drone a perfect view of the symmetry and design of landscapes and cityscapes, and it's a view we don't often get to see.
That makes these kinds of images unique and eye-catching, and viewers are encouraged to keep on looking and inspecting the shot for much longer than they might otherwise be.
In the end, there are plenty of similarities between taking a photo with your normal camera and taking a photo with a drone.
You still need to plan your photo shoot, adjust the camera settings, and consider the perspective from which you shoot in order to get the best shots.
You also need to outfit your drone with high-quality filters that enhance the images you take and improve the quality of your photos.
These are simple tricks to be sure, but man, they can have a huge impact!