Drone photography has become extremely popular over the past couple of years. These machines are not only used for special occasions but also in movies. Hollywood has been making good use of drone photography, allowing producers to catch some of the most splendid scenes and shots.
However, one needs to have a good eye for photos as well. Even if you splurge thousands of dollars on a drone, it will be of no use unless you follow and implement some important rules. Let’s discuss some of the best tips for aerial photography.
Follow the rule of thirds
When it comes to photography tips and techniques, the most basic pieces of advice are also the most valuable ones. The rule of thirds in photography is a sort of “golden rule” of composition. It is one of the first things that both amateurs and professionals learn, which helps add some dynamics to the photos.
Basically, the rule of thirds works by placing your photo’s subject somewhere off the center of the photo. As a result, you can introduce some asymmetry, which allows the viewers to observe and take in more elements. Even though the users will mostly focus on the subject but the elements in the background will make the photo pop.
Modern drone photography art and techniques make use of the camera mounted on the drone offering a 3 x 3 grid option, which follows the rule of thirds. This rule also applies to both horizontal and vertical directions. Therefore, if you wish to catch an interesting photo, you can use the rule of thirds diagonally.
Look for leading lines
In addition to the rule of thirds, creating leading lines is also considered one of the most fundamental rules related to composition. Leading lines as the term suggests are simply lines that run across the picture and serve as guides for the viewers. Then again, allowing photographers to capture visually appealing photos.
Perhaps the best thing about aerial drone photography is that viewers find it very easy to look for leading lines. Infinite long lines are quite common in nature such as in lines of trees or shorelines. It would be better if you are able to find meandering lines such as highways and rivers that are even more dynamic than straight lines.
Photographers while taking photos from the ground tend to throw in subtleness but that is not the case when shots are taken from the air. This is because the leading lines are much more pronounced due to their natural occurrence.
Try taking shots from low altitude
Initially, when you begin flying a drone, you would want to take it to the maximum height to catch awesome photos. However, that will only work for the professionals. The reason is that there will come a time when your photos will start to look stale and one-dimensional.
To avoid this, professional photographers usually prefer taking shots from low altitudes. Even taking shots from 10 to 15 feet is enough in most cases. The biggest advantage is that you are able to capture more leading lines and still have the sky as your backdrop.
However, while flying at a low altitude, you need to be careful of the obstacles. Practice a few flights before you start making shots to avoid crashes.
Use Interesting Patterns
Finding and using interesting patterns is amongst the best photography ideas. Perhaps the best thing about it is that patterns occur naturally and a good photographer will be able to easily find them. At the same time, if you are using a drone, finding good patterns will be much easier as you will have an expansive view of the surroundings.
Just as a photographer needs to find good patterns, finding a single feature that “breaks” the pattern is an interesting idea too. For instance, you might see a single golden tree in a row of green trees. As a result, the contrast and instant subjects produced come together to make some very eye-catching photos.
Create depth with contrast
Every photographer wants to create depth in their photos. Photos with several layers provide a more compelling experience for the viewers. This tends to be important for aerial photos since they are expansive and rarely intimate. Additionally, if you are taking shots of a huge space, make sure that none of the space goes to waste.
Unfortunately, a lot of aerial photos still tend to look flat despite the scale of their subjects. The reason is that the scale of the photos needs to be translated into a medium and the best way to do this is by creating a contrast. Creating contrast is relatively easy and can be done through several ways.
You can exploit both the brightness and color. For instance, you can make the subject look darker so that it looks closer to the viewer while using a brighter background that produces an illusion of distance.
Use ND filters
If your drone photography skills are not making use of the ND filters, then it is time that you start considering them. Investing in them does not really break your bank but allows you better control of your photo composition. The main purpose of the ND filters is to prevent excess light from entering your drone’s sensor, avoiding overexposed shots.
These filters are particularly useful while you are conducting photography in exceptionally bright locations such as the beach. Furthermore, some ND filters also feature a polarizing filter that reduces glare. And last but not the least, ND filters also help reduce the shutter speed. This brings you one step closer to capturing shots as good as the professionals.
Experiment with AEB and HDR
Setting drone photography involves playing around with features such as the AEB and HDR. While taking drone shots, mastering exposure can be a bit tricky. The reason is that since there is so much detail in a single photo that capturing a single element will lead to the loss of some important details.
If the exposure is set too high, the bright areas will seem too bright. Meanwhile, if the exposure is set to dark, then the dark areas will appear even darker. To avoid such complications, professional cameras have been using the HDR mode. The High Dynamic Range mode captures multiple and simultaneous shots with each set at a different exposure level.
This is done to preserve as much detail as possible. If your drone’s camera features the HDR feature, we suggest experimenting around with it to see the difference between the quality of HDR shots and the ones shot normally.
Include People into Your Shots
Adding people into your shots is a great way to disrupt a pattern. You do not need to include a crowd, just two or three will do. Aerial photography done through drones rarely is that majestic allowing viewers to imagine actually being there. Therefore, adding people into the scene offers an instantly immersive experience to the viewers.
However, make sure that you follow the Part 107 rules that prohibit flying drones over people who are not directly participating in drone operations. This is because some people might not have provided their consent to have their photos taken.
Use Natural Light
If possible, use as much natural light for aerial photography as possible. You should try capturing shots at the “golden hour”. The reddish-gold hues of the golden hour will not only make the photos appear gorgeous but also dramatic due to the long shadows.
Fortunately, capturing the golden hour is not anywhere difficult today. You can use different apps to forecast daily golden hours and plan your photography sessions in advance.
Break the rules
The last piece of advice we would like to offer is to not get too caught up with the rules. Yes, even though this article was all about rules but you should not limit your experiments. The reason is that it all comes down to one’s personal taste and instinctive sense while capturing artistic shots.
Some photographers simply ignore the rules because they can take good photos without following them. The point is that if you are able to capture splendid shots without having to follow certain rules, you should totally go ahead. Ultimately, the key is to find your own techniques and image capturing style, with or without following the rules of photography.
Drone photography is an interesting skill that takes years of practice. While some photographers follow standard photography guidelines, others do not. Regardless, the tips mentioned above have been practiced by professionals especially at the start of their careers. This means that such rules continue to remain relevant. Therefore, understand the basics of photography, pack up your drone and get busy with capturing all sorts of photos. You will become better before you know it.