Aerial photography is a wonderful addition to your creative portfolio. But for the inexperienced, it can be quite tricky. There’s definitely more to it than just getting a high-performing drone or expensive camera equipment and have it do the dirty work for you. Learning the ins and outs of aerial photography takes a lot of time, you’ll probably spend months practicing and taking multiple shots until you finally find your groove. But these tips, they will help you master the art of aerial photography as quickly as possible.
Beginner’s Guide: Aerial Photography Tips You Should Learn
Choose the right time to shoot
Choosing the right time of the day depends entirely on the position of the sun. Dazzle is likely to increase in the late afternoon when the sun is low on the horizon. Another disadvantage of sunsets is that the extreme contrasts between the sky and the land can make taking photos a challenge. But if you position yourself opposite to the direction of the sun, you can capture spectacular sights.
Night photography shouldn’t be ruled out either. There are a number of lighting accessories to allow your quadcopter to shoot at night. These pieces of equipment also let you take photos near the sunset.
“Time” here doesn’t refer only to the time of the day, it also covers the seasons. Landscapes tend to look different depending on the season. Spring and autumn offer a burst of colors that photograph very well. Winter, on the other hand, would be a perfect time to fly your drone on a mountainous region to capture different landscapes. Plains should be avoided during the winter time, as the shots tend to look flat and uninspiring.
Select your camera wisely
Powerful cameras take stunning shots, so you might want to make a wise investment when it comes to your photography equipment. Fortunately, you have a variety of options to choose from. Here are a few tips to consider when selecting a camera for your drone:
- The overall resolution to capture clear and crisp features
- High megapixel count (10MP+ cameras make the best choice)
- Higher frames per second for high-quality videos
- Low-light capabilities
In addition to the camera itself, a zoom lens is a prerequisite as well. Ideal zoom lens should cover at least 24–105 mm focal range (lens with 24–70 mm focal range makes a good option too). Do consider taking additional lenses with you. For example, lenses with focal range 16–35 mm are great for interior shots, as are fisheye lens.
Learn more about the different lenses below:
- Telephoto zoom lens — these lenses are necessary if you want to get close to the ground to isolate your subject
- Wide-angle lens — great for capturing a landscape or panoramic views
- Prime lens — known to take sharp photographs; however, these advanced accessories might need some practice to get used to
- Zoom lens — fit for beginners, as these allow you to try different tricks during your first flight, from close-up images to stunning panoramic landscapes
Check the weather and location of your shoot
Location and weather are two of the most important factors in aerial photography. Open areas free of high buildings, trees, and birds are a great place to shoot. At the same time, you should make it a point to check the weather conditions in the area before you start. Small copters struggle against gushes of wind, making it difficult to take a steady shot. The last thing you’d want to do is to find yourself fighting against the elements.
Camera settings for aerial photography
Fast shutter speed is necessary to avoid any degree of motion blur. Whether you’re on a vibrating aircraft or housing a camera on a UAV, maintain a shutter speed of 1/500.
That said, all the other camera settings should revolve around your shutter speed. Experts recommend these settings in manual mode:
- ISO: auto (minimum 100)
- Shutter speed: 1/500
- EV (exposure compensation): +0.7
- Aperture: f/4
- Autofocus: on (back-button focus)
- Vibration Reduction: on, high
- Bracketing: on
Preparation before the flight
Other than preparing your camera’s manual settings ahead of time, there are other things to consider as well. Here are some items to include in your list:
- Make a list of all the places you plan to shoot (e.g., monuments, airfields, lakes, castles, etc.)
- Mark all your locations on a map or a tracking device. GPS Trackers like Trackimo offer live map systems in bird’s-eye, hybrid, map, and satellite view.
- Keep an eye on motorways, railways, and wooded areas, as they could serve as landmarks as well.
By being able to map out your locations before flying, you get to position the aircraft to get an ideal view of the subjects you wish to shoot. At the same time, you can test your camera settings before arriving above the spot.
Let your creativity flow
It may be difficult to step out of your comfort zone when you’re up in the air. But the minute your eyes leave the camera, you’ll see that there are breathtaking views that are just waiting to be immortalized in a frame. For example, the shape of clouds, the colors of the nearby fields, and even the plane’s cockpit are just exciting things to look at and capture.
Hopefully, these tips will prepare you for your aerial photography flight. Don’t forget to SHARE these tips with your fellow photographers!
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