Welcome to this mini photography tip to help you with your camera and to get better photos!
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This photography tip is all about shooting photos with your drone.
Drones are becoming more and more popular with photographers to get that different perspective! Drone cameras are also ever evolving with image quality and shooting features.
The biggest thing apart from taking photos is where and when you can fly your drone legally. There are a tonne of rules and regulations that we need to follow to ensure we fly safely without encroaching on any aircraft operations and also the safety of others should your drone experience a failure in flight. This is a whole new blog post really but you can find all the information you need on the CASA website. CASA are the aviation regulator in Australia. You will find all the rules and regulations on their site plus information on registering your drone and also any licensing requirements.
Check out this link here or click on the photo above.
Now that you have all the legal information about flying your drone, lets take a look at what we need to do on the photography side so we can get some awesome photos.
Drone cameras are pretty good nowadays but due to the small sensor size they have limitations especially in low light. Better technology is being released every year and with camera manufacturers like Hasselblad coming onboard with drone cameras, the quality is there!
Most cameras are capable of shooting RAW files (typically DNG files) but some don't so this is something to look for when buying a drone especially for photography.
A typical drone camera has a fixed aperture, usually f2.2 or f2.8 or similiar so they do let plenty of light in. The wider aperture doesn't matter with drone photography in relation to depth of field as being up high and not usually near anything close, everything will be in focus as it's beyond hyperfocal distance. Google that to find out more. The better cameras in drones like the P4 Pro and Mavic Pro 2 have variable apertures which give a bit more flexibility and control for photographers.
Speaking of focus, with nearly all drones you can tap focus on the screen to determine where the camera will focus. A good general rule is to focus on the bottom third line of your image (in relation to rule of thirds composition, google again for more info).
Like other cameras, your drone will have shutter speed and ISO settings. I rarely use an ISO over 400 with my drone as the noise becomes unacceptable with most shots. Shutter speed is the key parameter with drone photography and having a fast enough shutter speed is important to get clear sharp shots, especially when it is windy and your drone is moving around. Try to keep it at least 1/200 of a second or more with your ISO as low as it will go for a nice clean shot. If you have trouble attaining that try raising your ISO a bit but don't overdo it to reduce noise and get better image quality. If it's nice and calm you can lower the shutter a fair bit as most drones are pretty stable. I have taken sharp shots around 1/20 of a second, but higher is ideal.
Modern drones will have various different modes like aperture and shutter priority also and these semi auto modes help do a bit of the camera work for you while you concentrate on flying! They do have full manual control also if you prefer that.
There are also other cool functions like tap-fly, follow me and point of interest which are generally best used with video. Modern drones can record in at least 4k video with very good quality too when set up correctly.
A few manufacturers make filters that you can use with your drone camera. These should mostly be used for video to obtain the correct frame rate/shutter speed for smooth cinematic video. Using dark ND filters for photography just reduce the light into the camera and slow your shutter speed. You don't get any extra quality benefit that you cannot get from post processing. The only filter I will use sometimes for photography is a polariser filter when shooting over water. This reduces heaps of glare from the water surface enabling you to "see" into the water. It's important that you align the filter correctly to polarise the light at the right angle.
Another function I use a quite a lot is exposure bracketing. You can easily set this in your camera menu. Look for AEB for auto exposure bracketing. This is a great feature where dynamic range is an issue at times like sunrise or sunset. The camera will take 3x different exposures in a split second that you can use to blend in programs like Lightroom or Photoshop.
In closing, just a final tip when flying. If it is windy, be aware of how far away you are and if you have to return the drone into the wind. This can take a lot longer than normal so leave your self a fair bit of battery in reserve (min 30%). You should always be able to see your drone as per regulations so you should not be more than 500-600m away.
I am happy to help anyone with not only using and taking photos with their drone but also selection if you are buying one. Get in touch, email link below. Happy flying and shooting!
I will put a few photos below that I have taken with my P4 Pro!
I hope you enjoyed this photography tip. Feel free to ask any questions by sending me a message on social media or by EMAIL.
Till next time, happy shooting.