The best social distancing kind of photography? Drone Photography! I have a list of drone photography ideas and tips here for you all! From playing with symmetry, to making the most of sunrise and sunset to which filters to use. As we are currently in the Netherlands, we drove to see the tulips from above a few weeks ago! No need to even get out of the car hardly, we just popped the drones up and sat in the car to fly! No human contact needed! There are also so many amazing hidden gems in the Netherlands that I think we will explore more here while we can’t travel.
For those of you who are more advanced then this can be some inspo for future shoots. As always if you have any questions let me know in the comments or you can also message us on Instagram @solarpoweredblonde & @boyanoo.
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Drone Photography Ideas
Look for symmetry
Symmetry is everywhere! Sometimes until you fly your drone you don’t even see it. You could be flying over a road, a forest, a court or even over a city. Sometimes from below you can’t see how all the streets line up with each other or create an amazing pattern.
One of my biggest things is that if I feel like flying then I have to do it! Sometimes I think well maybe I don’t have enough time, but you will only regret what you didn’t try. Just go for it! It will be worth it 90% of the time.
Take a selfie!
I hate normal selfies but drone selfies are my favourite! Sometimes it helps to have a person in the photo to show the scale of a place. It can also be useful to have a person to create shadows. I’ll add in some examples later on. For us our drone allows us to have photos together as we don’t have a tripod and rarely travel with other people to take photos of us together! Just pop the drone up, get into position and either hide the remote behind your back or set it on a self timer. We have done this before with a dronie and had to run back at the end to make sure we stopped the drone!
Boyan and I used this in the Faroe Islands especially as there it would have been hard to set up a tripod anyway in the wind and near waterfalls. Here we are below in Siargao in the Philippines!
Be creative with water
It is a skill to start up a drone and also land it from a boat so don’t try this right away! You can also chase boats from the shore. Check which way the wind is blowing first so you don’t get caught out with no enough battery to return to the home point. I had this once and it was so scary, I was 500 metres away and the drone had 50% battery. The wind just caught it and it kept going backwards even through I was flying it forwards. This is when Boyan took over and flew it in sport mode at a different angle, so not straight back us. There I was running along the beach to see my drone!
In the Philippines I did a lot of boat trips and always managed to take off fine and then land. Just make sure no one is around you and that there aren’t any poles nearby. And that you won’t fall off the side while concentrating on the drone! El Nido and Siargao in the Philippines was one of my favourite places ever to fly a drone!
Play with lines on the floor
Basketball courts are so fun to drone! You can pretend to hang off the lines, or lean on them. Get creative! Also they always have such fun colours that it makes for a great photo. You don’t have to fly too high either, just make sure you get everything aligned just how you want it.
We found some great ones in Mykonos as well as a random one in Siargao overgrown in the bushes. We didn’t even know that one was there and if we hadn’t just gone for it and flown the drone we wouldn’t have found it.
If you have a feeling, just fly! Later I’ll be telling you where we find some locations for drone shots too so read on!
Experiment with long exposures
A long exposure photo is a great way to create a real mood in photos. This will make moving objects appear almost blurry or as if they are moving. This is perfect for water shots to make the water look really smooth or in cities to show cars moving fast. Sardinia had so many lighthouses and waves that it was perfect, so many drone spots in Sardinia!
Shoot at sunrise and sunset
These are the best time to shoot drone photos. This is when you have amazing shadows. What I love about shadows is that then people are more visible. For example, a person top down during the day is just a dot, or you have to lie down to be seen in the photo. At sunrise and sunset, your amazing long shadow will add to the photo and make it more interesting. The light is also less harsh so it will be easier to edit and won’t be blown out. On our Australia road trip it was so bright during the day that evening were the best time!
Use your shadow
As I said above, sunrise and sunset are the best times to experiment with shadows. This can be people’s shadows or mountains or anything else tall in your shot!
Make sure to contrast your background
I used to always make the mistake of blending in with my background. Sometimes you have to plan your outfit before a shoot! For example in a field of green, you could wear yellow or white or red to pop out. Then on a beach, I make sure to wear a dark swimsuit so it’s more noticeable. Especially if you have to fly your drone quite high, wearing an outfit that contrasts will really make you stand out! You can also use a big hat like I do sometimes to create a bigger contrast rather than just a tiny head top down!
Make the most of a top down
This is one of my favourite drone angles! It can also make things look a bit more abstract and not so obvious at first. I love taking top down photos of rooftops, especially in the South of France in Menton, all the orange rooftops are amazing. This can be great by the beach too, and everywhere really! Just make sure to point the camera the whole way down so that you really get it straight on to what you are photographing.
Don’t be afraid to fly a bit further!
I have always been too scared to fly far away! A Mavic 2 Pro is definitely a better option if you want to fly further away. However don’t be scared to fly a Mavic 1 1km away either! Boyan will fly his Mavic 2 2km away, I wouldn’t risk that but 1km will be fine as long as the wind isn’t taking the drone with it! I sometimes do a little fly back to see whether the drone will come back easily. Sometimes it really can be worth it and you never know what you will find!
At Hutt lagoon in Western Australia this was perfect because all the entrances to the paths were closed. We had seen amazing photos of people driving through with pink salt pans either side but of course once we got here it was all blocked off, just our luck! France has the best salt pan if you are ever in Provence!
Drone Photography Tips!
Take RAW photos rather than JPEG
RAW photos are much easier to edit than JPEG. They are basically larger images, so will take up more space on an SD card. These are images that haven’t been compressed at all so contain more information. This allows you more freedom when editing to bring out all the colours.
Use ISO 100/200 max
As with normal photography, try and keep your ISO at 100 during daytime and max up to 200. The higher the ISO, the more light will enter your camera. Too much light coming will make your image too bright and washed out and you will not be able to edit this easily to bring the colours back. If the image isn’t as bright, you can always increase the exposure later in Lightroom, but you can’t fix it if it is too bright in the first place.
Use ND and PL filters
These were a game changer for me! ND filters are most useful for video but also in sunny conditions! In Asia I will usually use an ND 8 to 16. Sometimes even ND 32 if it is very bight around midday for example. These attach to your drone camera and really make a difference. I use PolarPro filters, and there are different sizes for the type of drone you have. The PL filters are great for shots of water for example. Sometimes the sun will reflect on the water a lot and you will have glare. A polarising filter will reduce this glare and help to also see through the water.
If you feel like flying do it! You never know what you might see from above!
Drone Photography Top Tip For Mavic 1
Use portrait mode if you will use them on Instagram!
I mainly use my drone photos for instagram or for my blog. Both of these require portrait sized images and this is why I love the Mavic 1! In the settings you can change it to portrait mode as soon as you turn the drone on meaning you won’t have to crop the images after. It will crop a tiny bit to make them 4×5 for Instagram but pretty much what you see if what you will get!
Drone Photography Top Tip for For Mavic 2 Pro
Use the grid view to frame your shots.
The lines that create a grid will let you create better symmetry in your shots. You can also take multiple shots and stitch them in Lightroom.
Other top tips for using a drone and finding locations!
Look for locations using Google maps
Someone asked me the other day why I was on satellite view on Google Maps. If you are a drone photographer this is such a fun way to find random things nearby. Even as we drive sometimes, we will spot a random maze. Once we found an old abandoned theme park this way too! Then favourite some places on Google maps and if you’re ever nearby you can fly your drone!
I hope you enjoyed this post on Drone photography ideas and tips! Remember to always fly as you may never get back to that place again! Or the conditions may never be the same also. Look for lines and symmetry, always take photos of waves (they are amazing), try and contrast to your surroundings and enjoy!
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