A drone is a type of UAV, standing for ‘unmanned aerial vehicle’. Drones are operated remotely and used in many different ways. Drones are often used for military operations, yet in the last few years, drones have become more frequently used for general photography and videography. Drones are frequently used in both commercial settings (Hollywood movies) and personal settings (photography while travelling).
Drones can be programmed to fly set flight paths, or you can choose to fly your drone manually. With the use of drones, it’s possible to take shots that would have otherwise been impossible to capture! If you’re looking to get into drone photography or videography, there are plenty of factors to consider.
1. A drone to match your needs
There are many different types of drones available, and it’s important to consider your needs when purchasing a drone.
You can either opt for a drone with an in-built camera or choose a drone which allows you to attach your camera separately. The advantage of attaching your own camera is that you’ll already be well accustomed to using this type of camera. You’ll be free to focus on teaching yourself how to fly the drone. Having said this, many drones have high-quality in-built cameras, which will allow you to take stunning photographs.
As a beginner your drone flying skills may not be great at first. It’s advisable to go for a cheaper drone, that’s lightweight and with basic features. Once you’ve improved your skills, you can always upgrade to a more advanced drone. Let’s take a look at a few different types of drone, depending on level of skill.
Best Drone for a beginner: The Mavic Mini is ideal if you’re a newbie and want a smaller drone to get you started. The Mavic Mini weighs slightly less than 250grams, meaning it’s simple to use and easy to transport. The Mavic Mini offers thirty minutes of flight time, so there’s no need to rush to get the perfect shots.
Best Drone for intermediate: The Mavic Air 2 is a great UAV for dronists who’ve reached an intermediate level. The Mavic Air 2 provides more features than the Mini, and the camera allows for higher resolution shots.
Best drone for advanced: For a top-quality drone, the Mavic 2 Pro is a great choice. The drone includes a Swedish Hasselblad camera, providing fantastic image quality. One of the best things about the Mavic 2 Pro is its ‘omnidirectional obstacle sensing’. The feature allows the drone to sense obstacles in all directions, keeping the drone safe while flying.
2. Study first
Of course, you’re super keen to get your drone flying across some epic landscapes; however, it’s best to study first! Learn everything you can about how your drone works and how to get the best shots. The first place you should study is the instruction manual; here, you’ll find plenty of info about how to fly your drone safely and get great photographs. For further resources, check out the following:
Dronestagram: On the Dronestagram blog, you’ll find plenty of news and tips about the wonderful world of drone photography. Check out the insightful interview with top aerial photographer Jerome Courtial and the article featuring talented drone pilot Jasmine. Phillips.
Dronescapes: The New Aerial Photography from Dronestagram: The Dronescapes book was created with the help of Dronestagram. Here you’ll find yourself some excellent inspiration, with the best drone-photographs from all around the world.
3. Check the legal requirements
Before you start flying your drone, it’s essential to check the drone legal requirements, and complete the appropriate paperwork. Firstly you’ll need to register your drone using the FAADroneZone website. The FAA stands for the ‘Federal Aviation Administration.’
Your drone should not exceed a weight of 55lbs (unless you have received certification from the AMA). All AMA safety guidelines should be followed when operating your drone. When flying your UAV, you can only use Class G airspace; if you wish to fly in any other airspace, you must first gain authorization.
4. Learn a few techniques
Before you get going, it’s well worth reading up on a few drone photography techniques. There are plenty of options to get yourself some beautiful and creative shots:
Aerial panorama: To get a truly stunning shot, try using the panorama setting. You can find this setting on drones like the Mavic Pro. To make the best of this feature you should fly high before you shoot, rotate your drone and then capture the landscape again.
Use shadows: When you shoot from a bird’s eye view, you can take some beautiful photographs of shadows. Small objects with large shadows protruding from them will provide your photographs with an arty and ethereal effect.
RAW format: Many drone photographers love to shoot using RAW format. When you shoot using RAW, it’s far easier to fix flaws, whether due to color or exposure.
5. Backup battery
Drones don’t have the longest battery life, and it can be frustrating to have to keep recharging them. To fix the problem, buy yourself a backup battery so that you can get a longer shoot. There’s nothing more annoying than getting the perfect location and then having your battery give up on you!
It’s also safer to have more time to land your drone before the battery dies. Whether you’re shooting a vacation drone video or snapping some shots for your Instagram, extended battery life is what you need.
6. Use propeller guards
When you’re a newbie, your drone might get stuck (or suffer a small crash)! To protect your drone and other people, it’s wise to get your drone fitted with propeller guards. A set of propeller guards can help you to learn the ropes safely.
Don’t forget to give your drone a test drive the first time that you use it. Ensure that you understand all of the features of your drone and make sure that you plan your route first. The more often you practice, the faster you’ll become a dronist pro!