10 Aerial Photography Tips to Know Before Your Shoot
Updated: Jul 7
By 2021, there will be an estimated 3.55 million drone owners in the US.
With the range of drones now available, more people are able to try their hand at aerial photography.
Aerial photography lets you be more creative and take a huge range of shots. But it's not an easy thing to do. There's a lot to learn about taking the perfect aerial shot, and it's not as simple as it seems.
Read on for 10 of the best aerial photography tips to make sure you get the perfect shot each time.
Get The Best Aerial Photography Shots Every Time
Whether you take photographs as a hobby or a career, learning to take aerial shots is a great skill. Capture new perspectives and get the most breathtaking shots with these 10 tips.
1. Choose the Right Drone
With drones becoming so popular in recent years, there are a lot of devices to choose from.
Depending on how you plan to shoot, it's important to get the right drone.
Are you going to be traveling with it a lot?
Then you might want to invest in a smaller drone such as the DJI Mavic Air!
Going to be using it to create paid work too? You may want a larger sensor, more megapixels and the Hasselblad color profile: check out the DJI Mavic Pro 2.
If you want the best quality possible and size doesn't matter, then the DJI Inspire 2 with its superior X7 camera might be the perfect choice for you.
Think about how you'll be using your drone, how often you'll need it and where you want to take it.
2. Think About the Lens
When it comes to shooting from above, you need to think about the lens.
A standard focal length lens (approx. 35 - 85mm) is great since you can get a tight zoom into your subject.
It allows you to capture extra detail and produces clean, crisp shots with a narrow and professional look.
The new DJI Mavic 2 Zoom rules when it comes to higher focal length shots from above.
A wide angle lens on the other hand (as seen on most drones) is also great as it allows you to capture a whole lot of your subject. It lets you freeze the background and foreground in focus and taking photos from above is easier in general.
3. Find a Good Location
When it comes to aerial photography, location is everything.
You need to be in the right place for the best shots!
Ideally, show interesting landscapes with many layers. It always looks appealing and interesting to have a clear fore- middle- and background. Clear shapes, lines and patterns can also enhance your aerial photographs.
Get inspiration by checking out some of the best drone Instagram accounts to plan where to shoot and search for drone groups on Facebook for hints from locals.
Safety and keeping the law are priorities too. Have you checked the drone laws where you'll be shooting?
Do you have a permit? Follow the law and try not to shoot somewhere crowded with people.
You don't want to risk crashing into anyone and hurting them.
4. The Right Time
The time of day makes a huge difference when it comes to aerial photography.
Try to shoot in Golden Hours, these being the start and end of the day. This means the light will be more interesting, and the colours different. It will create atmosphere and attract your audience.
Work with the direction of the sun to see how you can use it to light your subject/scenery best.
Don't forget to enable "HDR" to capture as many details in both the highlights and shadows when facing the sun. Don't know what that means? Invest the time and watch this tutorial (you won't regret it):
5. Shoot RAW
When it comes to shooting anything, you should be doing it in RAW.
Sure JPEG has its perks, but RAW is the way to go.
Shooting in RAW makes it so much easier to make changes to your photos during the edit.
You can make color corrections or adjust the exposure much better than if you shot it in JPEG.
Also details in the highlights and shadows can be easily retrieved when taking RAW photographs.
If you're shooting on a drone, it's even more important to shoot in RAW.
Most drone cameras only have a 12MP resolution.
So, shooting in RAW means it won't compress the image further.
6. Lower ISO
If you are shooting with a drone, they don't work well with high ISO settings due to their small sensors.
If you shoot in high ISO, you'll get a lot of grain and noise in your images which can ruin a great shot.
Try to stick to a low ISO when shooting. It means you'll have to manually lower your settings, but it will lead to better quality images.
If you are shooting in shaded or windless locations and need more light, try using a slower shutter speed or open up the aperture. This will bring more light in and keep the ISO low for better shots.
The rule is simple: the lower the ISO, the better the quality!
7. Find the Right Shutter Speed
Aerial photography shots need the right shutter speeds.
If you want to get creative with some blurred images, a slower shutter speed will work well. But to achieve that effect, you'll need to attach ND filters (at least during daytime). Everything you need to know, you'll find right here.
As modern drones have great gimbals and sensors which are getting more powerful, you can really give it a go and create shots with super slow shutter speeds.
A fast shutter speed will work best in most cases, so try to keep it higher for crisp shots.
8. Beware of the Weather
If you have a drone, you can get excited to take it out to shoot on a whim as much as possible.
Don't do this without checking the weather first!
If the weather is set to be snowy, very windy or rainy, better put a hold on it (except if you are experienced and know what you are doing). You don't want to damage expensive equipment by exposing it to the elements.
Try to shoot when it's dry and calm weather. If you can't resist, try to follow these tips for flying in the cold:
9. Bring Extra Batteries
The last thing you want when shooting from above is for the battery to die on you.
Most drone batteries only last for around 18-30 mins per flight, so you need to account for that.
The battery is the most important accessory, and you can never have too many of them.
Keep them on hand so you can swap out the batteries quick and get back to shooting ASAP!
10. Get Creative!
The best thing about aerial photography is that you get to have fun!
Flying with a drone is the most unique way to shoot, so get creative with it!
Try to find places that haven't been shot before. Think about different angles and try out new styles.
Get creative with the selfie or take a shot featuring leading lines, lots of contrasts or shapes.
You can find so many new ways to shoot and get the best photos out of your flight.
Have fun with it, and you'll fall in love with aerial photography.
Aerial Photography Is the Way Forward
Aerial photography is more accessible to everyone since drones have entered the market.
Now, anyone can try their hand at it.
These 10 tips make it easier to get started and learn a new skill. Give it a try, and you won't regret it!
Find this helpful? Check out our blog for more drone tips and tricks!