Any photographer worth his salt has played the physical game by climbing or climbing all kinds of structures in order to get a good shot. Getting a different perspective than the one we have with our feet on the ground is something we long for even in dreams.
The rise of multirotor drones is therefore not surprising. Its first massive application has been in the audiovisual field since being able to fly a camera opens up a new world in terms of creative possibilities and composition of shots.
Until very recently it was necessary to mount a drone and install a camera. This required certain knowledge of radio control, electricity, welding, etc. RTF (ready to fly, -ready to fly-) equipment is currently becoming popular, including everything in one: Camera, stabilizer, video transmission system and everything you need to start taking images.
We are not going to go into details about the rules of use, either as a hobby or professional use, but it should be remembered that the pilot / operator is always solely responsible for the damage caused to his aircraft.
Get started in the World of Drones: Take Control
In the world of photography and terrestrial video, the trend is to buy equipment that exceeds our level in order to improve with practice and not fall short of equipment. Few are those who try to get started seriously in photography with a compact camera, there is no greater problem to start with a SLR than our economy or size.
In the field of aerial photography drone and fly, it is advisable to take it slower. Without experience it is easy to shell out thousands of euros and lose the drone or crush it at the first exchange rate.
The first step is to take control. For this, nothing better than a simple indoor mini-drone (50 euros) without a camera with which to practice with the station's sticks. When we have internalized the controls and control the mini-drone with ease, we will be able to fly a larger team.
The marketing of drone manufacturers usually highlights the ease with which they are piloted, that they have them back home and that we will never lose them or that they even dodge objects. You have to know how to read between the lines and see that everything is "help", nothing and nobody guarantees that they will always work, in any condition and environment. You have to know how to fly without help.
How to Get Better Photos with a Drone
It seems like a no-brainer, but a pilot is not a photographer. Flying and taking pictures does not guarantee good results unless we apply ourselves. Being the best aerobatic or racing pilot will be of little use to taking pictures and videos. Priority must be given to safety as well as smooth and fluid piloting, especially when recording video sequences.
Having a photographic eye is vital. In addition to piloting, we must be able to compose and frame in real time while flying, control battery consumption, and manage any incident. All of this requires a lot of planning.
Outdoors the position of the sun is usually our worst enemy / ally, in the case of aerial shots it will be more relevant. It is essential to take into account the position and height of the sun to avoid overexposure, as well as avoiding the shadow that our equipment projects.
The other great enemy of drone aerial shots is the weather. It goes without saying that you cannot fly in the rain (drones are not usually watertight and any electrical crossing usually ends in an accident), or in a lot of wind. In practice, we will not achieve stable shots with a certain quality with wind above Force 3 (Beaufort scale).
Tips that can help you Improve your Creativity Level when Shooting with Drones
Plan. A couple of days before leaving to fly, check the weather report and keep in mind that with rain there is little we can do. In addition to the fact that drones are usually not sealed, the droplets are dispersed in all directions thanks to the movement of the propellers and usually end up on the target.
Cloudiness: mist and fog will limit the visual field; they give a very scattered light and without shadows that reduces the volume of the scene. Medium and high clouds can be our best ally to avoid overexposure and avoid having a "flat" sky.
Preview in your mind the objective of the photo. If you are clear about what you want to achieve, you will not need to make a very long flight. As much as we drain the batteries, we will not get good pictures by chance.
First thing in the morning and at sunset we will have good light and a certain calm in coastal areas. However, simpler cameras generally do not perform well in shadow areas and show a lot of noise and little detail in low lights. We will not be able to extend the schedule.
The histogram is your best ally in flight. At a glance you can see if you need to adjust the exposure settings before shooting.
It is always preferable to shoot photographs with the drone in hovering flight and thus avoid possible unwanted movements when capturing the image.
Always shoot in RAW, and make 3 exposures in bracketing. In a single shot, the ground will typically be underexposed, or the sky overexposed.
Before taking off, always check the condition of the lens glass and clean it. During the course of a day, both when landing / taking off and in flight, it is normal for dust, fragments of vegetation, insects, etc. to adhere.
To take pictures do not use ND filters. They are only useful in video recording to reduce the automatic shutter speed.
Don't get too high. From 50 to 120 meters above the ground, we will lose the proximity effect that the drone gives us and the photos will be too similar to those that could already be taken from a helicopter or plane.
Most drone cameras mount wide-angle lenses: It expands the depth between shots. What is far away appears even farther when photographed.
The most spectacular photos are obtained by overlapping different depth planes that give volume and depth to the scene.
The crown of a tree in the foreground, or any other object in height will help convey the feeling of height.
Even if you are flying, try to apply the classic composition rules of photography. Placing the main object at the intersection points of the thirds is basic.
Forget about the sky. It is the easy resource of aerial photography. Take advantage of the possibilities of the drone and place the camera in a zenith or at less than 45º from the ground. You will get really innovative perspectives.
Risking is always expensive, especially when we carry a flying camera. In most cases, the best shot does not imply that it should be the riskiest. We must always minimize risks to the team and fly safely.