Drones have taken photography to new heights – and I mean that both literally and not. Now you can take some of the most amazing shots using drones, but it’s not all about getting it as high as it can go and taking the photo. It’s more than that and we’re sharing today 10 tips and tricks to take better photos with your drone in order to help you get those breathtaking shots you always dreamed about.
It’s a combination of tips and tricks for beginners and more advanced photographers, so no matter if you have just purchased a drone for photography or you are an experienced user, you will most likely find our advice extremely useful.
So check out below our top 10 tips for taking better photos with drones. And if you still haven’t decided what drone to get, we have listed the best ones here.
1. Raw is the way to go
Most drones out there offer the option to take photos in RAW format and you should do it. RAW images take a lot of time and most people are staying away from them for this reason, but you can’t get any better quality with any other format type.
Even if you are not really looking to take your drone photography to the next level (but then again, if you weren’t, you wouldn’t read this article either, right?), RAW is still better than the compressed JPG format as it gives you complete freedom when it comes to post-processing and taking your shot to the next level. So if your drone’s camera has this option, always take RAW photos!
2. Be a better pilot!
When talking about taking photos using a drone, things get a bit more complicated than with traditional cameras because your skills as a pilot can influence the quality of photos you take. Therefore, you should practice a lot when it comes to controlling and flying your drone in order to make sure that you will be able to get the most out of it.
If you haven’t purchased a drone yet or if you are not confident of your piloting skills, it could be a good idea to first buy a cheaper drone and get some experience with it first. The good things about newer and more expensive drones is that they are also easier to control and fly, but no matter how high or low the quality of your drone is, you should remember one thing: your ability to maneuver your drone to the right location at the right time and keep it steady there while you take the picture can make a huge difference on the final shot!
3. Shoot at dawn or dusk
This could be more of a personal preference and others would say that you’re crazy if you’re not taking your pictures at mid-day, but I personally believe that the best quality light you can get is either at dusk or dawn.
So if you haven’t taken this into consideration yet or if you haven’t “played” at these times of the day, give it a go. You will be surprised with the quality of photos you can take!
4. Don’t be afraid to increase shutter speed
We all know that lower ISO is usually better because you reduce noise and get better pictures. But when it comes to drones, the shaking and moving of it can yield some bad results with low ISO and shutter speed.
This is why you shouldn’t be afraid to just trust your drone and increase your shutter speed in order to take those right pictures, even though they’re not as perfect as they would with lower speed. Test for yourself and find the best shutter speed and ISO – the lower you go, the blurrier or jellied-er the images might get.
5. When to use low ISO and longer exposure
Newer, more expensive drones are more stable and therefore they can offer better quality images and the option to set lower ISOs and longer exposure times without a direct impact over the quality of your images.
This is why it’s probably best to start with the lowest ISO your drone offers and move up again and again until you get the perfect quality shot. This is usually different from drone to drone, but even those without amazing stability can offer some nice effects – the blurriness I was talking about – that might be just right for some photos taken at low ISOs.
6. Bracketing is a life saver
Unfortunately, not all cameras offer Bracketing, but in case yours does, it is indeed a life saver and almost always guarantees that you will get the best possible photo.
Being able to get different exposures and seeing which one is right (or combining them all into one shot afterwards) gives you a huge bonus so always take bracketed photos if your drone allows that.
7. Take multiple shots
Bracketing enabled or not, taking multiple shots is something that probably shouldn’t be on the list because I am sure everybody does it, but it’s so important that it can’t be omitted either.
Simply take multiple shots in order to make sure that you have your perfect photo captured. If possible, change exposure times and lower or raise ISO for the same shot for the same reasons. The more photos you have of the same area with different settings, the better your chances for scoring that perfect one get. This also helps you better understand your camera and what settings work best.
8. Get an ND filter
Although these are more beneficial when shooting videos and if you took my advice #3 you don’t really need them, it doesn’t hurt to have one or more ND filters on hand.
These filters basically reduce incoming light passing through the lens, without affecting color or hue. This in turn enables a slower shutter speed and allows you to take better photos in bright light, but if the light is not that bright, your photos might actually suffer. So get one ND filter and use it when needed!
9. 16:9 or 4:3 format?
In my opinion, it’s not a big difference in the quality of the photo, no matter what format you choose. 16:9 is usually better because it is easier to use on social media and websites and such and it fits a laptop’s screen better.
I used to take 4:3 photos at first and cropped them to perfection, but that is just extra work and really doens’t make any sense. Choose the format that you like the most, but consider that 16:9 is easier to look at and use in today’s world.
10. Post-processing is a must
No matter how skilled a photographer you are and how perfect your shot is, it will still be improved if you use some post-processing.
I got some really good results using free software (still using Photoscape for minor retouches, for example) but you can go Pro and get yourself either Photoshop or Lightroom – or both. You don’t need to be an expert here and usually simply playing a bit with color correction or enhancements, as well as sometimes changing the brightness and/or contrast are enough to make a difference and improve your photo.
These would be my top tips and tricks for improving your drone photography skills. If you have additional advice, don’t hesitate to share it with us by posting a comment below.