Having Fun with Drones – Effective Tips to Take Great Footage

Learning how to control your drone is just the beginning of the challenge. Getting footage that people enjoy will require you to develop a drone photographer’s technique rather than just someone who knows how to fly the UAV.

Plan Well

It is good to start planning your drone shot beforehand. Keep track of the surrounding obstacles. The trees and buildings may be good foreground elements but they can also be major obstacles. Power lines are another danger to your drone. It is best to steer clear of them. You also do not want to run out of juice while in mid-air – drones are quite expensive. Carry extra charged batteries – regular commercial drones have a very poor battery life which can get even shorter when you are using a camera. Time your shooting spree and give yourself ample time to return the drone to the base. Also, make sure you are respecting the local laws before you set about exploring the skies. Respect people’s privacy – open areas with less population are always recommended for drone photography.

Using Nature for Great Footage

One aspect that drone photography borrows from ground-based image capturing is the use of the sunrise and sunset lights. The shadows add character to the landscape and the soft light gives your footage a dramatic veil.  Shooting videos when the sun is high can result in unwanted shadows and warped footage. You don’t want your propeller’s shadow showing on the landscape and direct sunlight may highlight the particles present on your lens.

Wind is another obstacle for good drone footage. You may be able to negotiate strong gusts but the video quality will suffer. Avoid launching in windy conditions altogether.

Experiment with Angles

Following a straight line is the basic way of getting decent footage. Try to focus on a central object – be it a road or a set of buildings. Different type of landscapes and activities will need different techniques to get the best footage. When taking shots of adventure sports, try to find an angle where the object – for example, the surfer or kayaker does not disappear from the frame. So if you are going overhead, go high so your object stays in the centre. Sports can really work well with sideways shots – the object is always in the frame and the movement maintains the depth.

Orbiting is another method that will keep the viewers engaged and showcase the object of your video. When you orbit you need to use steady hands and pull the yaw stick opposite of the direction in which your drone is going.

Sudden movements will make your videos look bad. Avoid quick whips, pans and tilts unless it is part of the video’s theme. Such jerky movements can also leave the viewer with a headache.

Basics of Drone Photography

Pushing in and pulling out are basic methods that never grow old. Look for landscapes with contrasts and maintain a steady speed. The best part of drone footage is that when it is done well it can add more width to the landscape. Pull up and pan the camera down slowly while you do so for a different perspective than a flat withdrawal.

Have you ever seen those shots where the camera focuses on an object before panning out to reveal the wide background? The fly by or fly over method is timeless and you can try it out with your trusty drone. It is a great example of layered videography as you showcase the object of your footage and a dramatic landscape setting in mere seconds.

Find a Drone Community

Do you love to watch cityscapes from across the world? From Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay to the Coliseum of Rome, watch these professionally taken shots that offer a new perspective on such storied sites. Sites like https://www.airvuz.com/ host an expanding library of drone shots from all over the planet – covering a wide spectrum of categories, from events, concerts and pets to wildlife, natural landscapes and adventure sports. You can also share your drone videos to add to this eclectic and in-depth collection – share your talents with the relevant audience. In these forums, you can also learn new techniques and get ideas that you can try out.

The modern-day drone has given regular folks a chance to take videos that just a generation ago was the domain of big budgeted professionals. Choose your equipment well and understand the myriad features available in the latest models. Whether you are using an inbuilt camera or attaching your own, get to know the capabilities of the device. Drone photography allows you to explore any place with total ease. At the end of the day, it is about fun.

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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