10 Tips to Create Incredible Drone Photos

10 Tips to Create Incredible Drone Photos

Are you looking to capture unique aerial photos that leave your audience is awe? Just popping your drone up will not be enough. The ability to create incredible drone photos is a craft. If you want to capture the best, implementing these 10 tips will help you on your journey.

However, it takes more than just knowing these strategies. You will not get the results you are hoping for without the most important step. Practice, practice, and practice some more. The only way you will begin to create incredible drone photos is to practice. Although, if you put the work in you will be shooting like a pro in no time.

 

 

How to Produce Stunning Drone Photography

 

The bet drone photos do not occur by chance. If you want to start taking your drone photography to the next level, than you need to take some time to develop a strategy to improve. These 9 tips are designed to take you from novice to pro.

However, you must dedicate the time to actually make this transformation. Put in the time and you will start taking impressive drone photos.

 

 

1. The Best Drone Settings to Create Incredible Photos

 

There are a few drone settings you are going to want to look at.These drone settings are for the popular DJI drones. Each drone will be slightly different. However, for all drones you are going to want to shoot in manual, know the difference between JPEG and RAW, decide on the color grading, look at your style, and set your white balance.

 

Manual Mode

 

First, always shoot in manual mode. The control over the image will provide your best strategy for improving your photos.

 

RAW vs. JPEG

 

The next setting to look at is your image type. If you plan to post-process your images make sure to shoot in RAW. Otherwise, leave your images in JPEG. There is also an option to shoot in both. However, this will fill your memory card much quicker.

 

Color Grading

 

Another key point to consider is color. For example, the Mavic Air 2 has normal or D-Cinelike. Normal is intended for anyone who does not want to edit. While D-Cinelike shoots more flat. The footage will have a larger dynamic range and is set perfect for post-edit. After all you will have more flexibility to choose your desired exposure, color, and contrast.

The sharpness, saturation, and contrast can be changed on the Mavic Pro. The Mavic Air does not allow this option.

Next, choose the style of your shot. If you plan to post-edit:

Sharpness +1 | Contrast -3 | Saturation -2

If you want the image straight from the camera:

Sharpness +1 | Contrast -1 | Saturation 0

Last, you have the white balance. The white balance is highly dependent on the lighting conditions. There are two options: auto and manual. Manual allows for you to adjust on the Kelvin Scale depending on conditions. The white balance adjusts the color temperature of your photo. The goal is to create neutral color whites, rather than appearing blue or orange.

 

 

Cape Elizabeth in Portland, Maine

 

2. Composition Generates Impressive Drone Photos

 

 

Symmetry

 

Symmetry is always pleasing to the eye. A drone allows for you to get up into the sky and view the landscape in a completely different manner.

 

Leading or Dividing Lines

 

These lines are great for drawing your viewer’s attention. With a road, frame your shot to use the lines. These lines could go in any angle. Play around and see what creates the best image.

 

Rule of Thirds

 

The rule of thirds involves shooting your subject in either the left or right third. The remaining two thirds of the image is left more open.

 

Photography guidelines assist to improve your photos. However, always challenge these rules. These are just a starting point for ideas when planning your shots. Quite often, straying from these will create a totally unique shot.

Be brave with capturing your drone shots. In fact, the ones who take the most risks will create the most incredible drone shots.

 

 

3. Use Exposure to Create the Perfect Drone Shot

 

Lighting is everything with your photos. The time of day matters. In fact, the blue and golden hours are the best parts of the day to shoot. This is just before and after sunrise and sunset.

Another tip is to adjust the direction or camera angle to allow the best amount of light into your shoot.

Use ND filters during the brightest hours of the day. ND filters are small lens that act as sunglasses for your camera. ND filters allow for much better shots when shooting in bright conditions. Play around with different ND filters. The brightest part of the day with require the highest filter.

 

 

The use of color contrast can make your drone photos stand out.

 

4. Use Contrast to Your Advantage

 

Contrast in your photos will help your subject pop from the background. One way to create contrast is through color. This can be done by shooting bright and dark objects together, or by using complementary colors.

Complementary colors that are directly opposite of one another on the color wheel. These colors create high contrast, which are quite pleasing to the eye. For example, blue and orange are high contrast. Yellow and green are low contrast.

 

 

5. Capture the Most Unique Aspect of Each Location

 

After popping your drone into the sky, take some time to search for patterns and strong shapes. These will set your image apart. Although, another option is to do your homework prior to heading to your location on Google Earth. A small amount of time searching a location ahead of time can go a long way.

A drone lets you appreciate the uniqueness of a place. Whether it be patterns, angles, or lighting. A drone allows for you to get a completely different perspective when compared to your handheld camera. After all, take advantage of your drone by creating a one of a kind photo.

 

 

A bird's eye view of Maine, United States to create a stunning drone photo.

 

6. Angling Your Drone Produces Stunning Photos

 

Be open to the changing your perspective. Play around with the camera angle when you pop it up into the sky. The angle of your camera can have a huge impact on the quality of your photos.

One special shot is the bird’s eye point of view. Since drones are able to fly directly above your subject, use it to your advantage. A bird’s eye view is a photo otherwise unachievable. This type of image is created when you shoot directly down on your subject. A straight down perspective will give a completely different look to every photo.

However, keep in mind to try out a bunch of different angles. Sometimes, a slightly different camera angle is all it takes to turn a decent photo into an incredible one.

 

 

7. Using Different Settings to Create Vivid Drone Photos

 

The Mavic Air 2 has many different photo settings built into the drone. As a matter of fact, you can use all of the following features like smartphoto, the 48 MP shot, and panoramas.

With this in mind, let us start with the smartphoto. The smartphoto combines two features: HDR and hyperlight. The HDR feature works with shooting at several different exposures to keep more detail when shooting in strong light. Thus, significantly improving the dynamic range of the image. Now, the hyperlight feature works great with weak lighting conditions. The hyperlight feature optimizes the photo by reducing noise and enhancing the clarity in dark areas.

Additionally, there is a 48MP photo choice. The greater megapixels are great for capturing more detail from the sky. However, this option can introduce more noise into your picture. So, always take a combination of normal photos with all your 48MP photos.

The last option is to create panoramas. A panorama is a great way to capture a wide landscape on a drone. The panoramas have the HDR feature to keep a higher dynamic range and colors that are vivid.

 

 

Spare batteries are crucial for creating an incredible drone shot.

 

8. Always Bring Spare Batteries

 

Extra batteries are a requirement. You are going to need a few to get that perfect shot. For example, the Mavic Air 2 battery last up to 34 minutes. However, keep in mind this is in ideal conditions. The addition of wind, low temperature, and if the battery did not just come off the charger can impact this time significantly. Thus, make sure to have a few in your bag to get your ideal photo.

In fact, when at a new location it will take additional battery life just to get the right composition. A little searching can drain your battery before you know it. The key decision to pack multiple batteries can prevent the disappointment from missing your shot.

Check out The Ultimate Packing List for Travel Photographers for more packing suggestions.

 

 

9. Arrive Early to Create Incredible Drone Photos

 

New locations require extra time. The search for the right place for take-off, to the perfect composition, cuts in to your timeline. The worst case scenario is to miss an amazing sunset shot by minutes. A few extra minutes can make all the difference with setting up your perfect shot.

The key takeaway is unexpected events occur. The simple scramble in the dark to find the right trail can set you back enough to miss the ideal lighting conditions. Planning for the unexpected can go a long way with never missing the chance to create an incredible drone photo. A little prep can make a tremendous difference.

 

 

Practice is the key to creating incredible drone photos.

 

10. Practice and Knowledge Leads to Creating Incredible Drone Photos!

 

Knowledge is power. The same applies when trying to create incredible drone photos. In fact, learning your drone inside and out should be your first task. Do not overlook learning about your drone. When you are too eager just to get out and fly, you miss the opportunity to capture the full potential of your drone. These drones have so many different features that are so easy to miss.

The ability to maximize all of the different aspects of your drone will help your create better photos. This happens by taking the time to become familiar. You will be thankful you took the time to understand everything on your drone. Especially, when you are out on an adventure and only have a split second to get that perfect shot. The ability to think quick because you know your equipment can go a long way.

With this in mind, knowledge is useless without practice. Occasionally, leave some time to take your drone out to fly while in a safe environment. A large open field is perfect. Practice creating different shots here. This way you become more comfortable with flying, while hazards are not present.

A lot of factors have the potential to create problems. Weather, tight spaces, difficult take-offs, and creating unique photos will all require you to be on your game. As a drone pilot, you must be ready to adapt your flying to the space around you. The value of practice while in your backyard can lead to safe and successful flying.

 

 

Drone Photography

 

With some initial upfront work, you will create incredible drone photos on a regular basis. It will become easy for you. Practice flying, master your composition, and fix your drone settings to start captivating landscapes like the pros.

 

The Ultimate Packing List for Travel Photographers

The Ultimate Packing List for Travel Photographers

 

So, you decided to get away last minute for the weekend? You are super excited for your trip. However, the last challenge you want to face is packing all of your belongings. The best way to prepare for a last minute trip is to have your packing list all ready! Try out this packing list designed specifically for travel photographers.

Last minute packing does not have to be a complicated task. When you have your packing list designed for any trip you take, just check off the items and head out. It is as simple as that for any trip. Of course, taking the time beforehand, saves you a ton of agony on all of your adventures. So, why would you not?

The hard part is to narrow down your packing list to the essentials. However, you will be so happy when you have all the right items and none of the excess weighing you down. Too much and you will quickly regret your strategy. Remember, you need much less than you think you do.

The key is to pack the right amount. You do not want to forget an important piece of gear, but you definitely should not pack your entire bedroom. Check out this packing list to make getting ready for a last-minute trip easy. Throw everything into your backpack and get ready for an adventure.

 

Basic Weekend Adventure Getaway Packing List for Travel Photographers

 

Following is a basic outline of the items you need for a typical getaway. Of course, if you plan to do any specific outdoor activity, then plan to adjust the gear list. Thus, customize your specific packing list to fit your exact needs.

 

A backpack or duffel bag

Camera bag

Packing cubes

Water bottle and filtration system

Phone with charger

Laptop with charger, external hard drives

Headlamp with spare batteries

 

Remember, a headlamp is essential as you will be venturing out in the dark. The best shooting times will require you to start before the sunrise and end after the sunset. Do not get stuck out there in the dark.

 

 

Clothing

 

If you are a travel photographer, you will walk quite a bit. A comfortable pair of shoes is crucial. The rest of your clothing will be highly dependent on your traveling style and your planned itinerary. Here are the basics to get started with on any trip:

 

Underwear (2 pairs)

Socks (2 pairs)

T-shirts (2)

Dressier Shirt (1)

Pants (1)

Shorts (1-2, depending on season)

Bathing Suit

Base Layers (top and bottoms)

Jacket (light and compact)

Raincoat/Shell

2 pairs of footwear

Accessories: hat, belt, sunglasses, scarf

 

Toiletries

 

Make sure to only bring the essential toiletries. It is easy to grab everything from your bathroom closet. However, most likely you will be by some type of store if you really need an item you leave behind. Only bring what you normally use everyday and cannot go without.

 

Toothbrush and toothpaste

Facial moisturizer

Deodorant

Hair gel or spray

Contact Solution

Sunscreen

Lip Balm

Make-up and accessories

Soap, shampoo, and conditioner

Personal medications

 

Camera Gear Packing List

 

The easiest way to travel with camera gear is with a backpack. The ability to carry all your gear together is incredibly efficient and easy. Lugging around multiple camera bags is no fun. Honestly, you will probably end up leaving some behind as it gets difficult. One bag allows you all the flexibility to capture all your shots no matter where you are.

Another key point when thinking about camera gear is weather. Water can create a huge challenge. Expensive camera gear must be protected when traveling to all of the different landscapes. In fact, when selecting a camera bag always make sure it is water resistant. Additionally, the use of dry bags can add extra protection and peace of mind.

Following is a basic list of all your camera gear essentials to shoot stunning travel photos and videos.

 

Cameras

 

Camera with Charger

Action Camera

Drone

 

Accessories

 

Spare Batteries

Extra lenses

16 mm: great for wide landscape shots

35 mm: perfect for portrait shots

70 – 200 mm: a great zoom lens for various adventure photography

Lens Cleaning Kit

ND Filters

Extra Memory Card

Compact Tripod

Gimbal

Intervalometer

Depending on your camera, some having a timer mode built right in so this would not be needed.

Carry Clip

Having your camera on your backpack is a must. Accessibility will encourage you to take more photos. The more you take the better your chance to capturing that perfect shot. Not to mention, the worst is having to take off your pack the entire day to grab a shot. Also, who knows what amazing sight you may miss because you were too slow.

 

 

A well designed backpack to fit all your camera gear in one place.

How to Pack Everything?

 

Camera gear can be hard to pack and become heavy. However, if you are a photographer, you know that you are willing to leave behind clothes before leaving behind part of your camera gear.

Therefore, it is so important to have one single camera bag for all your gear. Otherwise, it becomes a nightmare unpacking each time to get the perfect shot. In addition, multiple camera bags often get neglected and could easily get stolen.

Organization is huge when it comes to fitting all your gear in one bag. Packing cubes are great for organization. With a variety of sizes, all your clothing and random gear can be packed neatly.

 

Camera Protection

 

Always have insurance on your camera gear. Travel photography will put you in the elements and in some rough situations. The peace of mind of having your gear protected is important.

A broken camera is a bummer. However, a broken camera with no insurance will leave you with a hefty bill to replace.

You will definitely not regret having insurance. An accidental drop is likely to happen over time. Just plan ahead and get yourself covered prior to leaving for your first adventure.

 

What to Leave Off Your Packing List for Travel Photographers?

 

Avoid the mistake of packing everything! While it can be tempting, limit yourself to the essentials. A heavy pack while traveling is the worst. Ultimately, the least amount of gear you can get away with is best while traveling.

However, you will want to make sure you have all the right gear to create incredible landscapes and portraits while on your trip. Pack only the items you use daily while shooting at home. You will be happy you left those extra pounds at home.

Additionally, always be familiar with all your equipment. Whether new, or just not comfortable yet, fumbling around to get equipment working in a new environment is a pain. Typically, you will get frustrated and not even use the gear anyways. So, just leave it at home.

The best advice is to only bring gear you thoroughly know how to operate. So, avoid that last minute gimbal purchase or drone accessory. A trip is not the place to learn a new piece of equipment.

 

Phone Apps to Help While With Travel Photography

 

    • Maps.me is a great addition to google maps for reaching destinations when offline or without service.
    • AllTrails is an app designed to track your location and progress while hiking.
    • Weather app to check for sunrise/sunset times and best shooting windows for weather.
    • Lightroom Mobile, or any other editing software.

 

 

 

Your Bags Are Packed and You Are Ready to Go!

 

The life of a travel photographer involves a lot of packing and unpacking. The best way to avoid stress is to master the art of packing. Being able to quickly pack all your gear will lead you to heading out on more adventures. Make the process effortless!

Now, you already have a starting point. This packing list specifically designed for travel photographers is a great head start for creating your own customized list. So, the only task left to do is finalize your list and plan your next travel adventure!