Drone photography has taken off in recent years and allows you to get aerial views most people have only dreamed of. Here's what you need to know and what you need to buy to get started with drone photography.
Keyword(s): drone photography
At firsts, drones may have seemed like something out of Star Trek, but they've recently become even more prevalent than we realize.
The military uses them for both warfare and surveillance, Hollywood uses them to film movies and documentaries, and Amazon is even considering using them for local deliveries (talk about sci-fi!).
But those are all professionals, right? You could never get your hands on something that fancy, or even know what to do with it once you got it. Right?
Operating your own drone, and getting good at it, is easier than you think. In fact, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) estimates that 7 million drones will be in the US skies by 2020.
Are you looking to break into drone photography? Keep reading to learn some tips and tricks that will have you sailing through the skies like a pro in no time.
Have A Plan
It usually goes without saying, but the key to using drones for photography is planning ahead. There are key factors to this method that aren't ones you'd think of normal photography.
For instance, do you want to take still photos or videos? What's the weather like? How many batteries will you need? Are you in a No Fly Zone?
These are all important questions to ask when planning your shoot. Keep reading to find out details about each one.
Basic Drone Shots
Still photos are pretty simple, even with a drone. You point and shoot.
However, if you want to get some shots for a homemade documentary or a beautiful video of the coastline you went to on vacation, things can get a tad bit more technical.
But don't let "technical" scare you. These four basic drone shots can easily be mastered with enough practice.
The Fly-By shot is exactly like it sounds. You fly your drone past the subject while filming it.
As cut and dry as it sounds, there are certain things to take into account. Namely how fast your drone is going and how fast the subject is going.
Also, how will you fly past said subject? You can go on either side, over it, or even under it to get the perfect shot. Once you've decided, you'll need to consider the tilt of the drone camera as you fly.
The Bird's Eye View
The Bird's Eye View has become a very common phrase, even outside of photography. In this case, it means a shot that is taken directly over the subject.
It's very doable if you're taking a picture of a flower or your dog, but it is nearly impossible if you want to capture the essence of a bustling beach or waves hitting a rocky coastline.
With a drone, this shot becomes instantly accessible. At first, you might be nervous flying it so high. However, confidence will come with practice, and you'll soon be taking this sort of shot left and right.
The Circular Pan
The concept of the Circular Pan is simple, but it can be tricky if you haven't gotten your steering down yet. You fly your drone in a circle around the subject with the camera aimed at the subject the entire time.
It might sound a bit theatrical, but don't knock it 'til you try it! After all, it's how all those superhero movies get those intense back-to-back action shots.
The Tilt Reveal
The Tilt Reveal is a very easy shot to learn. Simply begin with your camera pointed straight at the ground and slowly pan up to reveal a horizon or landscape. This short of shot is perfect for professional or documentary films.
The battery life on drones is sometimes not as impressive ass you might think. Depending on the model, they will only last you between 20 and 30 minutes. While that isn't ideal, it won't slow you down if you plan properly.
One way to make your battery life last longer is to get as close as possible to the subject of your shot. If you're trying to get a certain mountain range, hike within a mile. If you want a beach or a coast, try standing right on it and maneuvering yourself just out of the shot.
Another way is to make sure you're practicing your steering skills before going out on a shoot. Make sure you're skilled enough to be able to fly your drone into position, take the perfect shot, and fly back down. If you have to keep flying in circles to get the perfect shot, you'll drain your battery a lot faster than you need to.
Most people own anywhere from 2-4 spare batteries. Always make sure yours are fully charged before heading out.
No Fly Zones
Drone traffic wasn't a problem when they were only being used by the military, but now that they've been released to the public, things have been getting a little crowded.
There are even certain places where drones are extremely limited or even forbidden. Particularly in national parks, some state parks, and all major cities.
Read the FAA's strict rules on no fly zones.
On top of adhering to the No Fly Zones, you'll also have to register your drone before taking it out for a spin. Don't worry, though. It's easy, and the fee is only $5 per drone.
Registrations last three years, so you'll be good to go!
This one comes with the territory, but as mentioned earlier, always make sure you check the weather forecast for the area you'll be shooting in. Not only is wind a factor, but any condensation could affect the equipment in general.
Also consider the time of day. Sunsets and shadows can be more tricky when you're hovering in the air.
The beauty of photography is being able to catch moments of life whenever they happen, but using a drone doesn't allow for the same spontaneity as normal cameras. Plan your trips carefully, and fight the urge to pull lit out every time the mood strikes you.
There are many different types of drones, one for every person's filming needs.
Everything from single rotor drones that are like little helicopters to fixed-wing drones, which are more like planes.
Click here to read up on which drone fits your needs perfectly.
Get Started With Drone Photography
If you're ready to take your pictures to the next level, try out drone photography. You'll be surprised how quickly you pick it up!
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