Quadcopter Photography Tips and Ideas: How to Improve Your Photography Skills

quadcopter photography tips and ideas
Written by Jack Brown

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Taking aerial photographs with the help of a quadcopter drone seems like a cool and fancy idea. This can actually explain the increasing popularity of drones in the world of aerial photography and cinematography.

As a matter of fact, drones have revolutionized the art of taking aerial photography and this is evidenced by the key roles they have played in recent movie productions and capturing of some of the most astounding landscapes in the present world. However, having the device is not enough, you need to know a few quadcopter photography tips and ideas to get sharp, high-quality pictures.

Drone for aerial photography

Of course, the camera plays an important role in the quality of the resulted images, and a drone supporting an UHD format is any photographer’s dream. However, these cameras cost and they are not affordable for amateurs. That’s why it’s also important to know a few tricks that will improve your skills as an aerial photographer.

It’s not always about using an RC to see the drone go into the air and commanding it to take a photo, more needs to be done to attain the best from your camera. From experience, aerial photography is quite tricky but we will explore some tricks that will enable you to end up with amazing and spectacular shots.

#1: Try raising the altitude for larger surface capturing

Many aerial photographers are stuck with the idea that taking shots closer to the ground will result in epic pictures of the landscape below the drone. On the contrary, this is not the case as it is recommended that you develop the habit of taking raised shots. The reason behind this is that, by flying to higher altitudes, you will be able to have a wider field of view using your camera. This will guarantee you high-quality and outstanding photos.

For instance, if you are trying to capture a herd of running elephants, a high altitude photo will be able to depict a spectacular representation of this action compared to when you zoom in on the herd from a closer position to the ground.

Drone in action

You should pick up the habit of flying higher as getting more of the landscape into your photos is a great idea. However, you need to have in mind that there are rules when it comes to the max altitude you can go with a drone, and to get more familiar with them, we suggest that you also read our article about drone flight rules.

#2: Try using the GPS Mode

The superiority of the GPS (goes without saying) is inarguably terrific. You will first need to get your hands on a quadcopter drone that features this. The GPS mode is a great tool that will help you in stabilizing your camera in order for you to take crisp and high-quality photos.

Photography drones

While you are flying your quadcopter, choose a location that you prefer, then fly your drone to it and let go of the controls. In the event that the GPS mode will be on, your quadcopter drone will hover and stabilize itself. In such a position, your camera will be able to take a photo which is still with hardly any vibrations.

#3: The convenience offered by the FPV system

The First Person View system allows you to take photos of locations that you can see and it is made possible with the help of a smartphone app. However, it is a system that will require that you first get acquainted with, something that needs lots of practice too. That’s why you need to consider circumstances which are favorable for you to make use of the FPV system to capture better photos.

FPV system

The FPV system will result in spectacular photos if you use it for ranged photos but it is not the best option if you want to take close shots.

#4: Get a gimbal

A gimbal is an ultimate tool for professional photography and every professional photographer should get their hands on one. Though you have to dig deeper into your pocket, this costly device will go a great way in helping you take precise and high-quality photos as well as footages.

If you are wondering what a gimbal is, it is basically a joint onto which a camera is mounted on during a flight. The convenience it offers during a flight will be enabling you to point the camera at a specific location and it will help you easily keep the camera in focus as it compensates for the flight while at this.

Camera gimbal

As alluded to earlier on in this section, gimbals are costly and are thus most suitable for professionals who will make money out of them. It is thus paramount for a professional or an estate agent to have a gimbal as they will reap most of the benefits from these devices.

While it is desirable for one to have a gimbal, it is recommended that you have the appropriate quadcopter drone that will be able to comfortably support the weight of the drone while flying. To get more familiar with how these tools work and which are the best models on the market, we suggest that you also take a look at our article about drone gimbals.

#5: Ensure that you have the right settings

It is good to keep in mind that each drone has a unique camera that comes with settings which have to be altered for a perfect shot. Thus, you should get familiar with the camera you’re using and learn the different settings and ways of getting the best from it. For a given drone, some settings will be best suited for the camera if there is a gimbal in place. On the other hand, you will have to alter the settings accordingly if you don’t have a gimbal.

Drone Configuration

For instance, in the event that the gimbal is installed, a lower resolution will be preferred together with minimal zoom. In case you don’t have a gimbal installed it is advisable that you alter your settings to attain the highest possible resolution and it will also be good to adopt a wide zoom.

It is recommended to play with features like the frame rate, the zoom as well as the resolution in order to learn how each works before sending the drone in the air.

#6: Choose a suitable location

Picking out the most suitable location will create the difference between an epic photo and one that is subpar.

Right location

It is recommended that your location has the following features for it to be considered as a suitable one:

  • an open location
  • it should not be heavily wooded
  • no high buildings
  • it should also be free of birds.

These features will enable a beginner aerial photographer to take great shots. These rules are mostly described for beginner aerial photographers that don’t have such a good grip on their drone yet. A professional should have no problem steering the drone through buildings or woods.

#7: Remember to watch the weather report

The elements of nature can’t be reversed and you might not be able to alter their effects no matter how hard you try. This is especially true for small quadcopter drones as these are most susceptible to the effects of unfavorable weather conditions. Windy conditions will greatly affect the stability of the camera you are using, and so do rainy conditions.

Watch the weather report

A clear day with a calm weather will be the most suitable weather condition for you to capture great photos.

#8: Try balancing your propellers

The propellers of your quadcopter have a great role to play in maintaining the balance of your drone. You need to ensure that you balance your propellers by:

  • Placing your propellers in a balance
  • Placing the given balance that you are using on some elevated surface
  • Locating the blade that is heavier by determining the way the blade lays
  • You could also sand the bottom of the blade a little
  • Try retesting the balance

It is good practice for you to aim at following the steps outlined above till your propellers are truly in a state of good balance. The idea of sanding just a little bit at a time till you attain balance should be borne in your mind to avoid your drone being imbalanced.

Flying a drone

#9: How about you try shooting in different angles

To get a spectacular shot it is prudent for you to shoot at different angles. By doing this you will be able to single out the best angle at which to take the perfect shot. You should not only try to use the FPV-only mode, you should instead opt to try out the FPV at an above angle as well as a side angle to compare the shot which stands out.

Try different angles

Taking a series of photos will enable you to a have wide range of results to compare from for selection of the best shot. It will also caution you against changes in weather such in a windy or rainy season which might hamper your efforts to take subsequent shots.

#10: Opt for new landing gears

At times it could be your landing gears that are hindering you in your efforts of taking epic shots. If this is the case for you it would be better for you to think of getting new landing gears. With the help of new landing gears, you will be able to easily keep anything out of the field of focus for a given shot.

Add the landing gear

In the drone market, there are various types of landing gears that you could lay your hands on, but your pick should be dictated by the model that you are using.

#11: How about night photography

Various above average quadcopter drones have many options as far as lightning accessories are concerned. These accessories make it possible for you to take photos around sunset. For some drones, you will be lucky to have front lights which will allow you to take pictures in situations when there is pitch darkness.

Quadcopter Night-shot

It will be best for you to have a controller that has an LCD display in case you want to engage in night aerial photography. The reason behind this is that when you see the camera’s field of view it will be a lot easier for you to take crisp and spectacular photos.

#12: Last but not least – get a powerful camera

The best and easiest way to make sure that you have excellent photos using drones is by settling on a quadcopter drone with a powerful camera. The drone market has great offers which are very suitable for professional aerial photography ranging from the Phantom Pro series to a wide range of drone copters.

From this, you could pick out a camera which will offer you the highest possible resolution.

Get a powerful camera

Before you pick a drone for use in aerial photography or a camera to replace the one you have, there are some few aspects that you need to consider. These are outlined below:

  • Choose the highest possible resolution to be guaranteed of clearer and crisp photos
  • Pick a camera that has a high megapixel count, it is pretty possible for you to find one with MP as high as 100MP and above
  • Choose a camera that has a wide range of view modes, and make sure to settle for one that has the best view modes
  • In case you want to use the camera for aerial video recording choose one that has higher frames per second
  • It is desirable for you to choose a camera with low light capabilities.

The bottom line is the better the camera the higher the quality of the photos that you will capture.

Aerial photography has been revolutionized by the use of quadcopter drones and the tips and ideas explored in the article will enable you to take epic shots. So, if you’re not satisfied on how your photos come out, try to adopt our tips and tricks and let us know how it went. Also, if you have other tips, please let us know in the comments!

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About the author

Jack Brown

Jack is the Chief Pilot at bringing experience, expertise and knowledge in this quite new industry. He is a graduate of the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Besides having all the necessary technical knowledge when it comes to drones, Jack and his team love to spend the time outside by the ocean, working on new features and teaching others how to pilot these amazing and exciting new robots.