5 Top tips for High Quality Aerial Photos
I have been working as a commercial drone operator for the past 18 months and have put together these 5 top tips for producing the best quality aerial videos, I will be releasing 5 further top tips in the coming weeks around taking the best aerial photos:
This advice is applicable for Aerial Videos but NOT Aerial Photos, I never use ND Filters for Aerial Images as they are not needed but these are a must for video footage on anything other than dull dreary days. To get the best footage your shutter speed should be roughly twice that of your frame rate. In simple terms if you are recording at 30FPS (Frames per Second) then you should be aiming for a framerate of 1/60s and to push home the point 60FPS would require a shutter speed of 1/120s. Often when you dial in these settings the image is over exposed, this is when you need ND Filters to allow less light into the lens and therefore the opportunity to increase the shutter speed.
Polar pro are generally regarded as the best ND filters around and I use these, an example of the set that can be bought for my DJI Inspire 2 is HERE although a cheaper alternative is Neewer and these can produce excellent results and can be bought HERE
Often when I am shooting sequence with Marine Aerial Work over the sea then it can also help to use ND filters which also have a Polarising Filter in them as this can help with glare
Shoot in Manual
Unless you are in manual you will not be able to utilise the ND filters to the best effect as mentioned above as you would not be able to adjust the shutter speed but the advantages move well beyond this too. When the drone is left in Auto it will change both the aperture (if available on your drone) and shutter speed settings which may result in an image that suddenly changes from light to dark as the camera is automatically adjusting the exposure levels. Shoot in manual and then you are assured of a steady image exposure to work with and then brighten up as needed in post editing. This is really useful too when working on Wedding Drone Photography as a really nice shot is a pan down at the guests and then lifting it to the venue.. a shift in the lighting will ruin the shot. Aerial Photos should also always been taken in Manual to allow you control of the image.
Avoid Complex Manoeuvres
Even with the steadiest of hands a shot that requires a straight pan and then flying in a different direction or angle are challenging and can result in jerky images. My suggestion for this is really carefully plan your shots and try and stick to one control input at a time and then edit them together. As confidence increases you can experiment more.
Master the Manual Pan
Many of the best drones on the market today come with the ability to track objects and create something called a point of interest shot where the drone will automatically pan around an object. While these are useful I find the best result to do this manually, but this takes practices. It is not that the drone does not do it well it is more that you loose control to speed up or mix up the shot, shooting in manual modes professionally for me always gives the best results.
When editing start movement before the transition – When you are slicing and dicing your footage to make the best video possible try and make sure the drone is already moving when the next sequence comes into view, this allows for butter smooth transitions and a much smother feel the overall video, it also comes back to my point about avoiding multiple input on the same cut.
I hope you have found these tips useful. Next time I will talk about SD Cards, Camera settings and editing workflows with a blog dedicated around Aerial Photos and Photography.