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9 Tips To Improve Your Aerial Photography

Photographers are artists that provide humanity with visions of the plethora of beauty our world has to offer. Without the creatives behind cameras, the way we visualize the world would be drastically different than how we have grown to know it. As we are all aware, human beings are sadly not equipped with wings, so how in the world can magazines and internet sources be sprinkled with photo after gorgeous photo of aerial views of our favorite places? This is where aerial photography comes into play! With the invention of drones of all shapes, sizes, specifications, and prices, a number of average photographers can now add a spark to their portfolios with breathtaking aerial pictures! If you are considering adding a drone to your photography equipment arsenal or already have one but are not capturing the shots you desire, here are 9 tips to satisfy your hunger for honing your aerial photo taking skills.

Photo Credit: Laura Chukanov. Brooklyn, NY. 2017.

1. Create Something Wonderful from “Nothing” As a photographer myself, I strive to capture the “mundane” in unique ways that make viewers reconsider the everyday things around them. The same goes for aerial photography. When hundreds of feet in the air, it may seem like you are flying over bland landscapes, but really look for something that intrigues you that stands out. Is there one brightly colored fall tree in a forest of lifeless ones? Is there a rock that has rigid edges that shine against the sun? Do the lines of a field look like another picture that you as an aerial photographer can only see? Whatever catches your eye, make that the subject and ensure that you position it properly using the rule of thirds.

There will be times that the scenery around you does not look too optimal at ground level, however, a drone can get you a bird’s eye view that can be absolutely amazing! So even though you might be bored with the scenery you have to capture, don’t overlook it. More often than not there are aesthetic features of any landscape that have cool patterns and shapes that you can’t make out from your level. You would be utterly surprised to see how many of the world’s best aerial shots looked like at ground level versus aerial view. If you feel like you can make your subject in the photo more intriguing, you can easily bring it up on Photoshop later and play with the processing to increase its presence and make it the king of the image! ​

Photo Credit: Merr Watson. 2017.

Photo Credit: Merr Watson. Location: Mauritius, 2017.

2. Hone Your Drone Flying Skills The second reason you are probably not getting the crisp shots you are aiming for can be due to not properly flying your drone.. Before you waste time attempting to capture intense shots, spend quality time getting to know your drone and advancing your flying technique. You are only holding yourself back if you fail to practice your flying skills, for this is the foundation for taking captivating aerial photos and being able to call yourself an aerial photographer. If you have the confidence to fly your craft and hone these skills, you will then be able to navigate your photo-taking machine to new heights and to brand new locations you only previously dreamt about without accidents or damaging your drone. If you are new to the world of drones, I highly suggest opting for a cheaper drone so that you can practice and learn to control it while you capture photos. This way, you won’t accidentally make a detrimental crash.

Photo Credit: Lonneke Tubbing. The Netherlands, 2017.

3. Learn ATTI Mode There will inevitably be a time or two that your drone will lose its GPS signal and switch to attitude mode. You will feel your heart jump in your throat as your precious drone reacts with unsettling alarms, but don’t fret. Take time as you get used to your drone to fly in ATTI mode, so that when and if this occurs in real-time, you have the knowledge to adapt with the conditions and avoid crash landing. 4. Get in Touch with Panning Your Drone As you become accustomed to your drone, you may want to begin capturing not only crisp images, but rather ones with high resolution. You can obtain beautiful and detailed images by flying over your subject matter in a pattern as you shoot a series of pictures. Later, you can stitch all of those photos together, which will make for an extremely attractive photo! I suggest using Adobe Lightroom for this sort of project. You will come across occasions that the maximum height of your drone is met, yet it’s still not quite high enough to capture everything you desire. This is a benefit of taking a series of shots, so that you don’t miss a detail!

Photo Credit: Elena Buenrostro. Phi Phi Islands, 2017.

5. Research Weather Conditions ​Even if you are a seasoned aerial photographer, don’t be too arrogant and think you can fly your drone in snowy, windy, or rainy conditions with ease. While these machines are meant to withstand Mother Nature, they only can to a certain point. If you plan to fly and capture shots during not so pristine weather, opt for purchasing a drone that is resilient to water and tough conditions. Always check the weather in the areas you want to capture before heading out. But what happens when the weather man is not so accurate? There will be times that you reach a location and the elements are not what was described on the weather channel. This is where creativity and thinking on your feet comes in handy! Instead of packing up and leaving, what about the weather and scenery can you capture with just a bit of creative thought? Most of the time, unforeseen weather is showcased in aerial shots and makes for a very intricate photo. You can utilize the tools on Photoshop later to create a better image, such as the dodge and burn tool, shading the fore body of the image. Or adding a touch of vignette to create a feeling of enclosure. Your creativity is your only limit!

Photo Credit: Elena Buenrostro. Brooklyn, NY, 2017.

6. Utilize the Rule of Thirds Composition in photography is everything if you desire to capture the perfect shot. Don’t rely on being able to crop and rotate the image in Photoshop later to correct composition errors. In aerial photography, this will especially result in you losing those precious pixels. Instead, learn how to utilize the rule of thirds to get your shot straight the first time around and save you a headache later. 7. Finding New Locations The technology we have today is beyond comprehension. While it can be a challenge to locate new places to capture aerial images, try the easy-to-use Google Maps tool! Google Maps can easily help you locate scenery that has beautiful landscapes. Remember, there are locations that prohibit the use of drones, so be sure to look up local regulations so that you follow all of the rules. ​

Photo Credit: Merr Watson. Location: Mauritius, 2017.

Photo Credit: Merr Watson. Location: Mauritius, 2017.

8. Keep ISO at 100 Sensors that are small in size typically do not work well at high ISO levels. I personally recommend keeping your ISO at 100 or less. Anything above 100 can bring lots of unsightly noise to your photographs. I typically shoot in auto mode, but when the drone camera begins to increase the ISO number, I switch over to manual mode. If you set your drone to GPS mode, it results in outstanding stability. Living in Kansas, I find windy conditions to be the most challenging. If you are in the same boat, set your shutter speed to 1/6th of a second (yes, I know that is low!) and you will come out with sharp, motion-free shots! Just be sure to take multiple shots so that you increase your chances of getting that award-winning picture. 9. Lighting and Shadows Even though aerial photography involves having a camera way up high, this doesn’t mean that you can scratch out the importance of shadows and lighting. These two aspects will always be crucial to amazing photos in any area of photography. While finally being able to capture the world with a drone is exciting, do not overlook lighting, as it will certainly make you look like an amateur.

Photo Credit: Lonneke Tubbing. The Netherlands, 2017.

Remember as you head out to take aerial shots to consider when the sun is at in the sky and look at how objects in your view cast shadows on your subject matter. Not only do you have these things to consider, but you also have the possibility of your drone casting a shadow where you don’t want it too. While there is so much information to learn and familiarize yourself with when it comes to becoming a seasoned aerial photographer, this is a good start in grasping some of the most vital aspects of aerial photography. Happy flying!

Article By: Ruby Noel

Ruby Noel is an eccentric blogger, content writer, hobby photographer, and avid freelancer. She is always hunting for unique opportunities to expand her creative abilities and knowledge. She is motivated in her mission to make the best better by providing readers with valuable, easy-to-read content that inspires people to find their purpose.Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.

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