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How-To Tips: Becoming a Master of Aerial Drone Photography

With the proliferation of consumer drones, more and more amateur photographers are aching to know how to take professional photos and videos using drones. The nimble, accessible and affordable flying machines have made aerial photography and videography vogue; and they have piqued interest in the art. So, how can a photography novice make the best out of these devices?

Read on to discover the top tips on how to transform from a mere photography hobbyist to an impressive aerial videographer:

Have Quality Equipment and Knowing It Well

Buying the appropriate gear

If you plan on being a professional aerial photographer, then you’re gonna need more than an RC helicopter with a GoPro taped to it. This means a acquiring a quality camera, useful gimbal, and – of course- a drone equipped with the modes needed.

Modes? And what’s a gimbal? You ask.

Modes are features that many drones come with that make producing media much easier. This includes the ability to target and follow any subject, help taking selfies, sports mode that ramps up its speed, orbiting mode which allows for a circle pattern around an object, and much more.

Familiarize yourself with the options available and decide for yourself. If you’re interested in what we recommend, check out some of the drones for sale we have reviewed.

Continuing, a gimbal is something that will help stabilize and allow rotation to capture media. A camera is attached to it, thus creating a base for it to rotate and film. This eliminates the dreaded jello effect and allows for a premium finished product – as shown in the video below:

See how smooth everything is? Even during quick rotations, the 3DR Solo Drone with its gimbal attached can maintain a steadiness and ease. No matter what the pitch, the camera remains in the same position.

I conclude that to be a professional aerial photographer, you’ll need a gimbal, hands down.

And knowing that gear like the back of your hand

Next, once you have the goods, make sure to know your equipment like the back of your hand. Your drone is an artistic extension of yourself, so develop a bond and relationship with it. Test out its features, Adjust your gimbal, tweak your camera settings, pilot often, know the capability of your batteries – in simple terms, know your drone! Creating a relationship with my equipment has given me the ability to enjoy it more, thus leading me to more creative and worth-while results. I do this by being thankful and appreciative for the media I capture, while also being hungry for more.

Try it for yourself!

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Focusing during flight

With any activity, focus is key to maintaining and producing results.

Focusing during your flight is essential – this will help you master techniques and responsible flying. Watch out for walls, trees, buildings, and people – these can all spell disaster if you happen to lose orientation around any of them. Many a drone has been lost, along with bodily injuries, because of wavering focus! Drones are serious pieces of equipment with powerful propellers and high top-speeds, they can do as much bad as they can good.

So, when piloting:

  1. Discard all possible distractions. Set your phone on silent, take your headphones out, and really engage in the act itself from beginning to end.
  2. Never fly (without proper paperwork) over congested areas, like town squares or crowded beaches.
  3. Be aware of orientation, battery life, flight path, possible obstructions.
  4. Clear your mind and enjoy the flight.

A quick, efficient meditation session is recommended before flying. Close your eyes for 30 minutes and relax while focusing on your breath. This allows the meditator to obtain a curious but pleasant silence within the mind if done daily.

Focusing during life

Continuing, the subject of focus also stretches into your daily life. To become better at something, it should be a pleasant thought in your mind often. This includes looking for flight paths while doing your everyday activities, seeking out new and exciting places to shoot, staying knowledgeable and seeking research, and being generally enthused with the idea of growing as a pilot/photographer.

A healthy obsession (with a positive upbeat attitude) can lead to abundance and mastery in any topic. Aerial photography is no different.

Choose a Focal Point

Now that we are taking off, let’s choose a focal point.

To begin, a focal point is defined as an element in the photo that is dominate. Dominate can mean through sharpness, size, proximity, and more. It essentially is there to draw the eyes of the viewer by using methods on it, like selective focus and light source. Without a focal point, many artists claim that the produced media will be dull and flat. I do agree – to an extent- but drone aerial photography is different. It is only possible when using a drone that you can reach head spinning heights, hard-to-reach places, and scenic views one couldn’t capture just on foot.

Here is an example of a focal point. As you can see, the fox is sharp and crisp while the background blurs away:

What a cute little fox. Anyways, now that you have a focal point, let’s focus on other elements to make your media more dynamic.

First Person View

See through the eyes of your multirotor

Many models are now coming out with a first-person-view feature that allows the pilot to see, in real-time, the footage he is producing. This is made possible with live streaming from devices like phones, tablets, and remote controllers equipped with screens. This helpful feature allows for pilots to create beautiful photography in real-time, minimizing editing and other hassles of creating worthwhile footage.

 Employ Intelligent Flight Modes

Flights modes make for the best media

Many drones on the market today can employ a variety of flight modes, which allow for your model to fly autonomously while you concentrate on filming. These consist of helpful functions like orbit, follow, predestined flight paths, selfie-snapping, and much more.

Here is a wonderful example of a follow me mode produced by the relatively new DJI Phantom 4:

Review Other Artist’s Work

If you really wanna become a professional aerial photographer, than review other artist’s work while also practicing and learning as much as you can. Youtube.com is full of videos, some with hundreds of thousands of views, of drone pilots like you and I capturing footage that is worth awards.

Look into the techniques they use – like gimbal angling and reverse filming to name a few. With time, patience, and practice, your videos will have thousands and thousands of likes.

Was This Article Helpful?

I am learning more about multi-rotor technology every day, and hope that this short article was enough to motivate any aspiring aerial artists to continue working toward their dreams. What did you think of the article? Is there something you’d like to add? Please tell me in a comment below and you’re ideas are likely to end up on this list.

Most importantly – never give up, follow your passion, and enjoy yourself while you do it.


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