Opening the Skies For the Beginner Drone Hobbiest: Aerial Photography and the Marvel of Drones
I'll never forget the first time I used a drone. This was going back a few years ago, mind.
I was lucky. I was given a gift card, from people at work for my birthday. And I remember trying to buy one that was a complete package solution.
I was completely new to this.
I've always loved the idea of a drone: this flying machine that could open your eyes to the very world above you. Sights that you could only acheive using your imagination. It felt like it was a gift from the gods.
I mean, for someone to look at an average bug in the air, and be inspired to make a drone, was pretty bloody genius, if you ask me.
And when I recieved it, whilst it was smaller than I imagined, I was relly, really excited. I got to play god with the air. Living next to the river, this should be pretty sweet.
I put the batteries in, went to the lawn near the river, and then disaster struck… I couldn't quite get the drone to fly properly.
The damn thing went up, then went back down again. Veered to the left, then crashed into a nearby grass verge.
I was worried, thinking that it was already broken.
Fortunately, this drone is pretty strong and agile. What I hadn't realised was that drone sensitivity comes at a price. You can't be heavy handed.
So I did my research, which would help open the skies for beginner hobbiests.
Introduction: Lets begin…
Like a painter with a palette of endless colors, aerial photography has been reborn through the wings of drones.
Believe it or not, these magnificent unmanned aerial vehicles (we'll call them UAVs for short) have swept open the gates to a world previously unseen, offering us a bird's-eye view of our surroundings.
Here, we'll embark on a journey to unravel the incredible potential of aerial photography with drones.
We'll soar through the various types of drones, each with its unique character, navigate the skies with flight techniques and safety considerations akin to a skilled pilot, and learn how to fine-tune our cameras to capture breathtaking images from above, like a maestro orchestrating a symphony of light.
1. Unveiling the Boundless Potential of Aerial Photography with Drones:
Just as an explorer unfurls a map to unveil hidden treasures, aerial photography uncovers a whole new realm of possibilities. Drones grant us the power to capture images from soaring altitudes, revealing perspectives that were once exclusive to handgliders, aviators or those aboard helicopters.
Hard to believe many moons ago, this newfound vantage point enables us to explore diverse applications for aerial photography.
Transforming landscapes into vivid tapestries, documenting architectural marvels from a celestial perspective, covering events with an ethereal touch, monitoring our environment from above, and even creating works of art that defy gravity…
At times, quite literally.
2. The Dance of Drones: An Ensemble of Types and Features:
Imagine a bustling marketplace, each vendor or merchant showcasing a unique masterpiece.
Similarly, the world of drones is a vibrant marketplace, teeming with a plethora of types, sizes, and configurations, each boasting its distinctive features and capabilities.
Lets take a stroll through this bustling bazaar:
a. Consumer Drones:
Delightful companions for hobbyists and enthusiasts, consumer drones charm us with their compactness, lightness, and ease of flight. These aerial sidekicks often come equipped with built-in cameras or the ability to mount a camera, offering a gateway to the world of aerial photography.
But be warned, you get what you pay for. When I bought my (at the time, cheap…) first drone, whilst it has the ability to capture images, it may not work the way you want it to. So, as always, do your due dilligence.
b. Professional Drones:
Like master craftsmen, professional-grade drones elevate our aerial endeavors to new heights.
These sophisticated machines flaunt higher-quality cameras, extended flight durations, and a host of advanced features such as obstacle avoidance and specialized flight modes. Yes you can effectively create your own cinema.
Embraced by photographers, videographers, and professionals in fields like surveying, mapping, and cinematography, these drones empower us to craft visual marvels that surpass our wildest imaginations.
c. Racing Drones:
In the realm of adrenaline-fueled excitement, racing drones take center stage.
These nimble creatures are built for speed, their lightweight frames and FPV (First Person View) systems allowing pilots to navigate at breakneck speeds, as if riding a lightning bolt across the sky. Just take extra care when you use these.
d. Commercial Drones:
Pioneers in the world of industry and commerce, commercial drones arrive laden with purpose and specialized payloads.
Equipped with thermal cameras, LiDAR sensors, or even systems for package delivery, these drones serve as formidable allies in sectors where innovation and efficiency reign supreme.
And yes, they cost a bob or two 😉
3. Mastering the Aerial Waltz… Flight Techniques and Safety as Partners:
Every sky-bound voyage begins with a careful checklist, just as an architect inspects the foundation of a grand structure.
We must embrace flight techniques and safety considerations as our trusted partners on this aerial voyage:
a. Pre-flight Checklist: Before launching our drone into the heavens, we must ensure that every gear is meticulously checked and prepared, like a knight suiting up for a noble quest.
Get this wrong, and you are already doomed before you start.
So take this seriously.
b. Flight Planning:
Just as a skilled navigator maps out a voyage, we too must chart our flights in advance.
Taking into account weather conditions, airspace restrictions, and flight duration, we navigate through the skies with a clear course set before us.
c. Drone Controls:
Like a conductor leading an orchestra, we must become intimately familiar with our drone's controls.
Don't make the mistake I first made, and make a haphazard attempt at it.
Be familiar with the controls. Start slow. Understanding throttle, yaw, pitch, and roll allows us to maintain stable flight and navigate the air currents with grace, or at the very least, with dignity 😉
d. Basic Flight Maneuvers:
Every pilot must master the foundational flight maneuvers—the graceful takeoff, the gentle landing, the art of hovering, the ascents and descents that mimic the rise and fall of a phoenix, and the elegant turns that dance through the air.
Do you want to dance like a Butterfly or fly like a Wasp?
Just try not to crash too hard…
e. Airspace Awareness:
Just as a bird respects the territories of its kin, we must honor airspace regulations.
By understanding restricted areas, no-fly zones, and altitude limitations set by local authorities and aviation bodies, we ensure a harmonious coexistence with the airspace community.
f. Embracing Safety:
Safety becomes our steadfast companion as we embark on this aerial voyage.
We maintain a respectful distance from people, property, and wildlife, steering clear of towering power lines, majestic structures, and bustling airports, so that our flights remain secure and serene.
Health an safety are of the utmost importance here.
4. Painting with Light: The Brushstrokes of Camera Settings in Aerial Photography:
As we gaze upon the canvas of the sky, we must understand the artistry of camera settings tailored specifically for aerial photography.
Just as a painter selects their brushes and pigments, we consider the following camera settings, crucial to creating our masterpiece.
As always, check with your particular drone what controls you specifically have, but you would normally have the following:
Manipulating the aperture is like adjusting the focus of a lens—a wider aperture (lower f-number) creates a shallow depth of field, drawing attention to specific elements, while a narrower aperture (higher f-number) enhances the overall depth of field, ensuring that every detail is rendered in sharp focus.
b. Shutter Speed:
Like a fleeting moment frozen in time, shutter speed dictates how we capture motion.
Higher shutter speeds act as a freeze-frame, preserving the swiftest of movements, while slower shutter speeds transform motion into a poetic blur, conveying a sense of graceful movement and fluidity.
The ISO setting serves as the conduit between light and our camera's sensitivity.
Lower ISO values ensure minimal noise in well-lit conditions, akin to a calm pond reflecting the moon's glow, while higher ISO values embrace the darkness, amplifying our camera's sensitivity to capture the faintest glimmers of light.
Sometimes less is indeed more.
d. White Balance:
Just as a painter balances the hues on their palette, we must balance the colors in our aerial images.
Setting the white balance ensures accurate color reproduction, with auto white balance acting as a reliable ally in most scenarios, while manual adjustments lend a careful eye in challenging lighting environments.
e. Metering Modes:
The various metering modes are akin to a photographer's sixth sense, helping us perceive and capture light accurately.
Evaluative metering paints a broad picture, spot metering unveils the nuances in the shadows, and center-weighted metering harmonizes light across the frame—each mode plays a crucial role in achieving a well-exposed masterpiece.
f. RAW vs. JPEG:
The choice between RAW and JPEG is like deciding between a blank canvas and a pre-drawn sketch.
RAW files hold a wealth of untapped potential, capturing a broader range of colors and details, allowing us to mold our images with precision during post-processing. Meanwhile, JPEG files are the instant prints, ready to be shared with the world, sacrificing some flexibility but offering ease of use.
Especially if you are using a online website, such as a blog.
With the wings of drones, we transcend earthly limitations and embrace the boundless sky.
Aerial photography with drones unlocks a treasure trove of possibilities, inviting us to discover breathtaking imagery from the skies above.
As we grasp the extraordinary potential of aerial photography, navigate the diverse types and features of drones, master the flight techniques and safety considerations of a skilled pilot, and wield the camera settings as an artist with their brushes, we embark on a journey where imagination and technology combine.
When I (sort off…) got my drone working, it was certainly a feast for my own sore eyes.
That thrill of excitement, getting to pretend that I was at one with the birds and the bees in the air… that feeling is one what many of us recognise.