Having the ability to capture amazing aerial photographs and video footage is one of the major benefits of drone ownership. But if you’re new to drones, or new to photography and videography, learning the capabilities of the drone and getting to a place where you’re consistently creating quality aerial imagery can be a challenging journey.
Here are few ideas to help you explore the functionality of your drone and improve your aerial imagery skills.
Use autopilot flight modes to get more time at the camera controls
When you’re first learning to pilot a drone, it can take some time to get comfortable managing the flight and camera controls simultaneously. Some consumer drones have intelligent flight modes like Waypoints and Orbit, which allow you to enter a pre-determined flight path that the drone completes autonomously. The beauty of utilizing these autopilot flight modes is that it gives you the opportunity to focus primarily on the camera controls, while the drone takes care of the flight.
Some drones also have a Teaching Mode feature that allows two pilots to connect their controllers and fly the drone together (one pilot controls the drone’s flight, while the other pilot controls the camera). Using Teaching Mode, you could find a trusted pilot to manage the drone’s flight, while you focus on improving your camera skills.
Plan your shots ahead of time
If you send your drone in the air without giving any thought to the specific images you want to capture, chances are you’ll use up a lot flight time searching for a decent shot. The best drones have flight times of 20-25 minutes. Planning your shots before you launch is the best way to get the most out of that time in the air.
Map out your starting point, end point, and any waypoints along the desired flight path. Note any obstacles or potential hazards that could disrupt your flight. And if you’re planning a difficult or complex shot, be sure to pack extra batteries as you may need multiple attempts to get the imagery you want.
Even if you find a beautiful and unique flight location, planning your shots before you fly is the best way to ensure you don’t end up spending the entire flight searching for a decent shot.
Focus on specific techniques and types of shots
One of the best ways to improve your drone photography and videography skills is by identifying and mastering specific techniques and types of shots. For example, a new drone videographer might spend time practicing bird’s eye, fly-through, orbiting, and other panning techniques; while a new photographer might start with basic landscapes before moving on to live-action shots.
Instead of improving your drone photography skills at random, create a list of the techniques and types of shots you want to master, and measure your progress as you check them off one-by-one.
Learn how to use the advanced camera settings
When you’re first learning how to use the drone camera, stick with the default settings. In most cases, the default settings will automatically adjust to the environment and produce results you’ll be happy with. But as your camera skills improve, and you experiment with different types of photography and videography, there will be times when adjusting the settings will give you better results.
Spend time researching and experimenting with the advanced camera settings. With many drone cameras, you can adjust the shutter speed and ISO, and control the color, white balance, and more. Some drone cameras also have photography modes like single shot, burst, or timelapse. Learning how to use each of these settings and modes expands your skill set and can help maximize your chances of getting that perfect shot.
The Bottom Line
As a new drone pilot and aspiring drone photographer or videographer, getting to a place where you’re consistently producing quality aerial imagery takes a lot of practice and time at the camera controls. Stay focused on the techniques and types of imagery that are most interesting to you, plan your shots before you fly, and learn how to utilize the features and functionalities of your drone and camera. Doing so will help improve your aerial photo and video skills and enable you to do more with your drone.