Aerial photography was once an expensive hobby as you could only take aerial photographs by being physically high up in an aircraft using cumbersome, heavy and expensive equipment. Today, thanks to easily affordable drones, aerial photography is no longer the domain of professionals and the rich.
Top drone manufacturers today ensure that their drones come equipped with the best digital cameras so that you can take amazing aerial pictures with your drone. Some of the best aerial photography drones in the market today are DJI, Yuneec, Service-Drone, Aerialtronics and 3DR.
DJI is the market leader in manufacturing aerial photography drones. In fact, the Inspire 2 model is the first choice for professional photographers the world over.
Drones like the DJI models connect to your smartphone or tablet. This offers you a chance to see exactly what you are going to photograph as you get a live feed from the camera. This really helps as you aren’t “shooting in the dark”.
Before you start taking pictures, make sure you sync your mobile device to your drone so that the controls are okay. Also ensure that the camera settings on the drone are fixed to your satisfaction. You can do this in the camera functions menu in the DJI app, for example.
While checking the camera settings, ensure that you fix the shutter speed, ISO, aperture, focus method, white balance and stabilization for aerial photography. Make sure the shutter speed is high, the ISO is in high resolution, the aperture is at its maximum and the focus method is in continuous mode. White balance is something you need to experiment with to get the right light exposure for the image. Most drones will come with gimbals that will ensure stability.
Creating Amazing Pictures
Taking the pictures is only a part of the process of creating amazing pictures. In aerial photography, getting the “perfect shot” can sometimes be impossible. After all, you are taking these pictures remotely.
That is why the editing process becomes so critical.
While editing your drone pictures, make sure you have the right kind of editing software. There are a lot of options available in the market, such as Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Corel Paintshop Pro, etc. Most professional aerial photographers prefer to use Adobe Lightroom as it has the largest range of professional editing tool and you can really play around with the images.
Whichever editing software you use, these are the basics of editing that you need to keep in mind:
- Cropping – You need to ensure that you crop your picture correctly. For aerial photography, the most important thing you want to keep in mind while cropping your photo is the Rule of Thirds. Think of your picture as tic-tac-toe board. You want your focus points to be at the intersections of the lines of the board. Once you have your main focus point on one of the intersections, you can go ahead and crop your picture.
- Object Removal – You drone will capture unwanted objects in your image. Thankfully, you can use the “clone” option in your editing software to remove that blimp in your picture. This tool simply copies the pixels of the image you want and superimposes it on the unwanted object, thus removing it from the picture.
- Harmonizing levels – You can use the contrast tool to darken shadows and brighten highlights. You can do this by going to the levels option in the contrast setting and adjusting it to your satisfaction.
- Correcting Colors – You can correct the colors in your photos by using the saturation setting. This can help your pictures look richer and more vibrant.
- “Magic Hour” or “Golden Hour” Effect – This tool helps your picture get that “Magic” or “Golden” hour effect. The Golden or Magic Hour in photography is the one hour after sunrise and the one hour before sunset. At this time, due to the angle of the sun’s rays everything has a golden hue and shadows are dramatically long. You can achieve this look for your pictures by playing around with the hues. Luminar is the best editing software if you are specifically looking for that image.
- Removing Haze: In aerial photography, there can be haze caused by atmosphere in your image. You can use the contrast option to clear out your picture.
- Reducing Noise – Noise is the photographic term for the graininess in a picture which is caused by low light. You can minimize this effect by using the luminance tool in your editing software.
- Removing Blurs – if the blurring in your picture is minor then you can use the sharpness tool to ease out some of it.
Remember, creating amazing pictures with your drone takes time and practice. So don’t give up and keep at it.