a man operating a drone with remote control at sunset

Drone Photography Tips

Drone photography has become very popular in the past few years, especially after the more compact drones have graced the market. Drones provide a bird’s-eye view that offers a different perspective compared to the standard handheld camera, as it can get to places that you can’t. All types of photography require some form of planning, but with drone photography, you may even be overwhelmed by the number of factors you need to consider. There are some basics and tips you may want to consider when experimenting with your sky-high photography.

Research and Plan

Research is pivotal for any photoshoot, but especially when flying a drone. To achieve incredible aerial shots, it may be a good idea to assess the location before you even travel to it. Satellite navigation such as Google Maps is a great way to do this. You are able to see a close-up aerial view of most locations, which gives the photographer confirmation of whether it’s the right place to go.

Once you have decided on the location, it is very important to also consider the weather. Most drone enthusiasts would refuse to use their drone in wet and windy conditions due to the high chance of damaging the equipment. Adding to this, poor weather would most definitely reduce the enjoyment of the operator!

Capture in RAW Format

Most enthusiasts should know that shooting in RAW (.DNG files) format is preferred to the JPEG format. This is because the drones have much smaller sensors compared to your standard DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Small sensors produce a lower-quality image so by shooting in RAW you are achieving the best possible photo. Although it will require more storage, it’s worth it! On the offset, JPEG format is far superior as most cameras process the image straight away to reduce the size of the files. But by doing this, all the visual data that distinguishes a RAW file is lost.

When it comes to editing: JPEG files lose quality, which is not the case with RAW. Higher quality images give the user more available data to work within the post-processing stage. Applications such as Adobe Lightroom are great for fine-tuning the RAW format as they typically have an auto-tune button that will do most of the work for you. This is great for beginners!

Check Your Drone Settings

Drones are like normal cameras in terms of settings. You can shoot in auto and manual. Auto will give you pre-set settings that the camera thinks will work well with the surrounding landscape. These will change based on how much exposure the lens is receiving. When in manual, you can fine-tune the settings, which can sometimes provide a much cleaner image compared to the automated setup. When in manual, there are three different settings you would need to know: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

  1. Shutter speed – The amount of time the camera shutter is open. This is dependent on how much light you would like to let in and is measured in fractions of a second.
  2. Aperture – Controls the image’s depth of field. It is measured in focal ratio, e.g. f/2.0. If the aperture is small, the depth of field will be large and if the aperture is large the depth of field will be reduced.
  3. ISO – A setting you can use to increase or decrease brightness. A low ISO is darker, and a high ISO is brighter. Although this is a good setting to use, raising the ISO higher will increase the graininess of the images.

Finding a Subject and Image Composition

When taking drone pictures, you will need to find a subject. This is normally the most prominent object, or person, in the frame. No matter how much editing you do to an image, if it does not have a good subject it will not attract as many viewers as you would like. But don’t be afraid to experiment!

After a subject has been chosen and you are thinking about ways you can make it stand out: composition guides or ‘The rule-of-thirds’ could be used. This setting is on most drone applications and is very simple to use. The rule-of-thirds splits the frame into 9 equally sized rectangles using two horizontal and vertical lines.

Top tip: The four points that intersect to make the rectangles are called ‘power points.’ These points are where the subject is often placed, but not always!

Choosing the Right Storage

When choosing microSD cards for your drone users would normally look into read/write speeds and, most importantly, storage. Kingston offers a range of memory cards for a variety of devices, the Canvas Go! Plus microSD memory card for example is a great option for action cameras and drones, with capacities from 64GB to 512GB1 so you won’t have to worry about maxing out your storage. The Canvas Go! Plus provides U3 and V30 performance with incredible transfer speeds of up to 170MB/s2, so you can shoot immaculate 4K Ultra-HD videos without slow speeds and dropped frames.

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