3 Tips You Can Apply Today to up Your Drone Photography Game!
This short and sweet article will provide you with a few tips that you can implement into your drone photography game today! Share your results with us by tagging us on Instagram @dronemultimedia.
1. Add a compelling subject
‘Rookie’ drone photos often feature long views taken at high altitudes. Usually the landscape will be beautiful, however somehow your photo is not that attractive and it doesn’t stop anybody from scrolling past it in their Instagram feed. That’s because you have not included a compelling subject.
Take your drone down to a lower altitude and try to put a real subject in focus of your photo. And I say lower altitude, because unless you have a massive volcano right in front of you, the possible subjects will be scarce up there … Think of subjects in terms of a beautiful house, landmark, prominent tower, wind mill, statue, hill, cliff etc … these all make for wonderful subjects.
Now if you really want to nail it, you will look for a human subject. If you manage to get a human subject in a cool framing, that will be a guaranteed banger! Imagine an empty beach at sunrise, there’s 1 person standing on the sand, casting a long shadow. Waves are coming in, the foam sparkling in the golden hour light and the viewer’s eyes focus first on the human subject and then follow the line of the beach into eternity 😍
Fraser island during sunset, Australia
💡 Don’t forget basic composition rules when framing subjects. It is best to place them on the intersections of the 3rds-lines (if you follow the rule of thirds) and make sure you have an interesting background to go with that subject.
2. Use polarized filters
You have probably heard of ND filters, neutral density filters. They act as sunglasses for your drone so you can get the exposure right. This is important if you want to create motion blur in your videos. Now for drone photography, you don’t need them as there is no motion. You can easily compensate for the amount of light with a faster shutter speed for example.
However, I do recommend using polarized filters. They usually come as a combo ND/PL, so make your life easier and get a combo set like that.
Polarized filters have the ability to filter out reflective sunlight at a certain angle. They are often recommended when flying over water, but I find them useful in any situation. The less reflective light you have, the more your natural colors pop. Try shooting the same scene with and without the polarized filter, you’ll see what I mean.
Having more colors in your RAW file makes it all the easier in post-production to make certain colors pop or to bring out the color contrast in your shots. Think gorgeous orange highlights during the golden hour.
Lake Guatapé at sunset, Colombia
💡 Polarized filters filter out light at a specific angle, which means you need to turn them in the right angle before you fly. Aim your drone at a piece of blue sky at 90 degrees versus the position of the sun. Then turn the filter until you get the darkest blue possible. That’s your sweet spot.
3. Shoot during the golden hour
This might sound cliché. But I’m always astounded by the amount of ‘rookie’ drone photos I see on Instagram or in the Facebook groups that are taken with harsh light. People just get the drone up at any given time and then they wonder why the shot isn’t amazing looking like what they see on the internet.
This is a basic principle that not only applies to drone photography but photography in general. The golden hour is the first hour of sunlight during sunrise and the last hour of light during sunset. If you shoot during the golden hour the light will be soft, give you long shadows, and that magical orangy touch.
Of course – depending on where you live – you might need to get up early to catch that sunrise or get home early/late from work to catch that sunset. But trust me, it will be so worth it! It will transform that same scene into something magical. Everything will look better. The directional light will create long shadows that give you depth and contrast. The highlights will be less bright, so you have a broader dynamic range to work within post-production. Really only advantages here!
El Peñol during sunset, Colombia
💡 So, start planning that next shot during the golden hour!
My name is Johan and I’m a professional drone photographer from Belgium. The last 2 years I’ve traveled all over the world to take the most beautiful and creative drone shots with my Mavic 2 Pro.
In the last 6 months, I’ve put a lot of work into creating the first-ever Drone Adventurer Masterclass, where I teach you exactly how to take those amazing drone shots and cinematic videos. I take you from drone pilot to confident Drone Adventurer, just like me!
Learn more about Johan’s story at www.johandroneadventures.com or his Instagram!
Interested in capturing cinematic drone videos? Check out this video!