Take Your Shots to New Heights: Top Tips for Using a Drone for Aerial Photography

You might be a world class photographer, but taking aerial pics from a drone may change everything you think you know about picture-taking. If you’re already pretty good at snapping pictures and shooting video, the learning curve won’t be too steep. There are, however, several factors you’ll want to keep in mind.

Take your time

If you think you’re likely to become as skilled a shutterbug as Ansel Adams or Martin Scorsese right away, do think again. First, you’ve got to master the techniques of framing a shot, panning while airborne and selecting the right light and angles, notes Digital Trends magazine. There’s a whole lot more to first-class drone photography than merely fiddling with joysticks. Read the owner’s manual that came with your drone camera, then read it again. Understanding the basics of taking a great photo or video and finishing it in post production are essentials you can’t do without.

Before you set out to capture images with your new flying camera, learn how to expertly pilot your drone. The more aware of your aircraft you are, the better your chances of taking perfect pics. Master the maneuvers and learn what your flyer is capable of before attempting photography. The time spent learning the 1-2-3s of drone flying will pay off big time in the long run.

Know the rules

Unless you intend to learn to pilot a drone indoors, become familiar with all Federal Aviation Administration rules pertaining to remotely piloted aircraft before you try to fly. Your drone camera may seem like a wonderful and expensive toy, but the FAA considers it an aircraft and will fine you if you fly in an authorized area. If there are no-fly zones in your locale, know about them before you take your new drone camera out of the box.

As a rule, the finest drone photos are not taken at maximum altitude. In fact, there is a “sweet spot” located only a few feet above your own head. This height lets you suss nuances you don’t see from ground level while guiding your viewfinder through a singularly visual experience.

Features to look for in a drone camera

Photographers looking to buy a drone for the specific purpose of taking airborne images may want to find one that comes with a built-in onboard camera. Alternately, a rotating mount, or gimbal, that’s pre-installed allows for easy attachment of a GoPro or similar high-end camera device. Real-time video streaming is another feature to seek, especially if you wish to share live video to Facebook or other social networking sites. Of course, when shopping for drones for sale with camera features, you’ll want to find one with a handheld controller that offers first-person viewing, as well.

Once you’ve mastered the techniques of maneuvering a drone camera and are well versed in photography, you might be able to earn a pretty penny taking drone videos for other people, as described in Fstoppers magazine. Some people hire a drone photographer to follow them around at their wedding or while on vacation.

If you understand the basics of photography and practice piloting a drone camera, chances are good you’ll become a first-class aerial photographer in no time flat.

Jason Lee enjoys photography and got his first DSLR some 10 years ago. More recently he has discovered a passion for aerial photography.

Mars Cureg

Web designer by profession, photography hobbyist, T-shirt lover, design blog founder, gamer. Socially and physically awkward, lack of social skills, struggles to communicate with anyone who doesn't have a keyboard. Willing to walk to get to the promised land. Photo and video freelancer, SEO. Check out more on my Google+

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