Drone Photography – How to Use Drones for Aerial Photography

Photography, and especially aerial photography has an exciting new aspect – Drone Photography. Capturing images through a unique viewpoint that high-flying drones with cameras fitted to them is something that is not just more accessible now, it’s also a lot of fun. With the costs of getting equipment for drone photography dropping fast, professionals and hobbyists, both are increasingly using drones for aerial photography.

With lightweight cameras and drones (also known as quadcopters) becoming lighter, faster and technologically more advanced by the day, expect to see lots of amazing images shot from the sky as photographers experiment more-and-more with techniques and grow their drone photography business.

Check out www.dronestagr.am for some of the best drone aerial photography. Featured in this blog post are the winning images from the Dronstagr.am 2016 competition. See the winners.

Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Umbria, Italy By Francesco Cattuto
Winning Photograph(Travel Category) by Francesco Cattuto – IDPC 2016
Cable Beach by Todd Kennedy
2nd Prize Winning Photograph(Travel Category) by Todd Kennedy – IDPC 2016

So, Lets get started with a few drone photography tips you would need to master the art of drone photography.

Finding the right equipment:

There are a vast range of drones and quadcopters available now on the market. Consider these two factors when choosing the right equipment for drone photography:

  1. The quality of camera on-board,
  2. And the flying characteristics of the drone itself.

Like all other things in life, it essentially boils down to how much you are willing to invest. Low-cost models that can take very basic images are good for starters, but the pro drones for photographers have choices available that will make the big-boy DSLRs look like cheap toys.

GoPro Hero4 series are a popular camera choice for drone photography. It’s in selecting the drone, that you need to do a lot more research. The Phantom range of drones by DJI are the first choice for many, and the Phantom 3 series model is one of the best drone for aerial photography, for good reason.

Planning your first aerial-photography adventure:

Most drones these days are reasonably easy to operate and can pretty much “Fly Straight Out of the Box”. Just charge batteries, get the app running and start flying.

 Piton de la fournaise, Volcano by Jonathan Payet
3rd Prize Winning Photograph (Nature Wildlife Category) by Jonathan Payet – IDPC 2016

While the drones themselves are easy to fly, it does get some getting used to start getting good shots. Start out slow in a wide open space – a park or even the countryside. Set limitations in the smartphone app in terms of how high or far the drone can fly and always keep the drone in the line of your sight. Making sense of and getting your bearings on what your camera is seeing through the smartphone app can get a little getting used to. Experiment with angles and zooms and click away. You would have to review your results and keep experimenting to develop achieve the best aerial photography with drones .

Study and follow the rules and regulations of your country / area:

Most countries have rules to follow, so make sure that you study the rules and check up with local authorities before you start out. Usually the rules are along these lines:

  • Always fly the drone to be in your Line of Sight (LOS) – you should always be able to see it.
  • Typically the maximum permissible height is around 400 feet.
  • Respect privacy of other people
  • Do not flying in no-fly zones like near airports and other such areas as specified in your location.

Getting better at Aerial Photography

Moab Rock Climbing by Max Seigal
Winning Photograph (Sports Adventure Category) by Max Seigal – IDPC 2016
Summer camp of Gran Canaria by Karolis Janulis
3rd Prize Winning Photograph(Travel Category) by Karolis Janulis – IDPC 2016

Mastering drone photography is a unique aspect that you can add your photography. Shooting from 400 feet up in the sky creates stunning and intriguing images that show our world from a completely different perspective.
As you start exploring aerial photography, you will find that it follows the same principals of other forms of photography – getting the light right, finding that unique frame and creating visuals that are expressive and tell a story.

Don’t forget to showcase your drone photography images with a Portfolio Website by Pixpa

Drone Photography  – Commercial Applications:

While creating stunning images of earth from the sky is its own high and can be pursued purely as a creative art, here are some of the other interesting applications of drone photography:

1. Studio lighting for photo shoots!

Lighting up a photo shoot involves an array of tasks such as setting up reflector discs, flashlights, convertible photo umbrellas, and a lot of power cables. This can not only be cumbersome, but also limiting because of the fixed position of the lights. The researchers at MIT recently discovered the portable and automated alternative in drones. A drone equipped with light, could be used by the photographers and shifted according to light needs, merely with a remote. This has proven to be a boon to the photographer fraternity and ensured unbounded creativity.

2. Aquatic photography

How does the sea bed look like? How could one capture the moments spent underwater with family? Many such questions have been answered by Ziphius, the aquatic drone. Ziphius is the the first smartphone controlled aquatic drone which comes with multiferous utility. And guess what? It not only enables you to click pictures and videos but also plays with you!

3. Sports / Motion Photography

It won’t be long before drones would be used full-fledgedly in sports photography after already making a great show at the Sochi Olympics. Drones in sports photography not only mean accessible pictures of aerial sports like ski and snowboarding, but also distant and clear view of all sports. Now, there isn’t a need to fix multiple cameras on different location during a racing/sports event. A remote operated drone can capture the moves of the sportsman at different periods. A great example would be Airdog. It has created the auto-follow action sports quadcopter for this very purpose.

Complejo Acuático Norte de Santande by Losmanesdeldrone
2nd Prize Winning Photography ( Sports Adventure Category) by losmanesdeldrone – IDPC 2016

4. Filmmaking

Given the relatively low cost of drones (much cheaper than the costs of hiring a helicopter or aeroplane), drones are likely to change the face of cinematography as well in the years to come. The idea of drones is opening avenues to cheaply create crane/helicopter shots. Many filmmakers are excited for the round the corner technology which would enable better cinematography.

Swarm of sheep by Szabolcs Ignacz
2nd Prize Winning Photograph (Nature Wildlife Category) by Szabolcs Ignacz – IDPC 2016

5. Real Estate Photography

Using drones in your professional photography can definitely make you stand out from the crowd. Be it a wedding photographer, a landscape photographer or any other commercial photographer, drones add more value to your services and can increase your pay manifold. Real estate photography, in particular has also been able to flourish because of drones. The aerial panorama of the property site imparts a more lucid understanding of the property and its neighborhood, and all you need is the best drone for real estate photography.

A patch of pines in the middle of the forest : Kalbyris forest, Denmark by Mbernholdt
1st Prize Winning Photograph (Nature Wildlife Category) by Mbernholdt – IDPC 2016
Chugach Mountain Range, Alaska by High Angle Shot
3rd Prize Winning Photograph (Sports Adventure Category) by High Angle Shot – IDPC 2016

Drones are revolutionizing the very face of photography in every way. Though issues of legality and privacy plague the advent of drones, it’ll be interesting to discover what new use-cases of the drones the future lays bare.

Do share your experiences about drones for aerial photography in the comments. Don’t forget to add links to the images that you have shot from the sky!

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