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A Beginner’s Guide to Drone Photography and Choosing the Best Gear

phantom drone

Photo: Max Pixel

So, you’re thinking about going into drone photography? Good for you, because this is, as they say, the best of both worlds. In this article, we are going to teach everything you will ever need to know about drones suitable for aerial photography, gear you’ll need to use, and, of course, some tips for lining up pitch-perfect shots. Now let’s talk shop.

VIEW – DJI Introduces Mavic 2 Series Drones Featuring Hasselblad Camera

What You Need for Aerial Photography

The first thing you’ll need is, obviously, a drone with a good-quality camera. Seems logical enough, but is it easy to find the ideal drone? The answer is “yes,” but only if you know what you’re looking for. For instance, it would be a good idea to buy a drone that’s capable of shooting in RAW or DNG formats, aka in very high quality. More than that, pictures were taken using either format can be quickly exported to a pic post-processing software like Photoshop.

Another thing worth checking out is the 4K feature. Now, having a drone that shoots in 4K isn’t exactly the thing you’ll need right now, but you’ll be glad to have it. Moreover, if you have a 4K-compatible PC monitor or smart TV, viewing the pics or movies will be a true delight.

Beginner Drone

On the topic of aerial photography UAVs, it would be really worth your time to check out the holy stone f181 RC quadcopter drone. Why this model in particular? Because we feel like it’s the most suited choice for a beginner thanks to its mounted camera that can shoot pics and movies in quality up to 1280 x 720p. The best part being the auto-focus feature which ensures that the pics will be crystal clear even if the weather’s windy.

If you really want to take clear shots, you should definitely consider buying a drone that has gimbals. Those will help further steady the image when your drone’s in auto-hover mode. Now, if you want to take your aerial photography game to the next level, small helium balloons are a must. You’re probably wondering what’s the use of buying some more flying gizmos when you already have a drone that can soar just like an eagle.

Well, don’t dismiss them too soon, because helium balloons are very handy when it comes to getting a great angle. How to use them, you ask? Tie them to those fan guards and fire up the engines in sequence to obtain a steeper picture angle. Thank me later for this great tip. :)

Now, with the drone at the ready, you can start taking amazing shots or create jaw-dropping movies. How to do that? Well, you will need to bear with us a while longer to read about our awesome aerial photography tips.

Tips, Tricks, and More Gear for Aerial Photography

Let’s get you started on your first drone shooting session.

1. Harness the power of overlay grids

highways from above drone photography

Photo: Aleksejs Bergmanis

If you fooled around with a camera a couple of times, you would know that photography is all about composition. To get the perfect shot, you will need to find a way to balance all of the elements found within your frame. In aerial photography, learning how to use overlay grids is crucial because you don’t have the luxury of waiting around.

You tend to think that 30 minutes of flying time is more than enough to snap a couple of pics but consider the things you must do – get the drone off the ground, fly it around, search for things worthy of being immortalized. So, the best approach would be to use your companion app’s overlay grid to balance your visual elements. Look for symmetry, repetitions, and anything that could help you snap a great pic.

2. Don’t be a stranger to AEB

auto exposure bracketing example

Photo: Nick Ortloff

AEB stands for Auto Exposure Bracketing. If this is the first time you’ve heard the term, then you should know that it refers to a camera’s feature to snap multiple pictures at various exposure levels. That’s very handy in post-processing because all you’ll need to do is select the ones with the best exposures. Tinkering with the AEB feature allows you to create very realistic photographs.

3. Panoramic Shots are your best friends

As you probably know by now, drones come in all shapes, sizes, and, of course, prices. The so-called high-end drones can produce life-like pictures even in tight quarters. However, if your drone has a low pixel count, a good trick to get great pictures is to give panoramic shots a try. Take a couple of shots, stitch them together and use a photo post-processing software to turn a meh photo into something worth hanging in an art gallery.

4. Don’t be shy about working with camera lenses

drone camera lenses and special gear

Yes, there are such things as lenses for aerial photography. They’re not exactly cheap, but they will be of help when you want to snap that perfect holiday picture. Drone lenses are great when you want to take photos of shimmering surfaces such as a river or an ocean. Feel free to experiment with them as often as you can. Do bear in mind that you figure out what lenses to use before launching your drone. Those ups and downs will take a toll on the drone’s battery.

5. Wrap everything up with an epic drone selfie

drone selfie

Photo: Wikimedia

Now, if you really want to end your first aerial photography session in great style, you should definitely take a selfie. In order to do that, you will need to use your drone’s Follow Me function. Once the drone’s in a perfect position, press that button to take an epic selfie. Be mindful of your surroundings though. Remember, it’s not your regular selfie where you need to keep the camera close to your face. It’s something you do from high above. So, try to capture stuff like rock, streams, trees or anything that might add to the picture’s uniqueness.

Conclusion

Now you know everything there is to know about starting your first aerial photography session. Don’t forget about purchasing the right gear for the job, learning your drone’s functions by heart, and, of course, to have the time of your life.

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