These 7 drone photography shot tips will help you capture great aerial photos every time.

These photography tips are simple to understand but like everything it will take practice to become an expert.

Over time, you will develop a great eye for the best aerial angles, perspectives, settings and how to implement each aerial shot tip.  These tips are in fact well known principles in photography.

You can use these tips for both aerial and ground photography. These drone photography tips cover rule of thirds, counterpoints, juxtaposition, lighting, leading lines, creating depth in your photos and much more.

It’s important to have fun while flying and learning to take even better photos.  For aerial photography it is important to have a drone, which has the capabilities to take great aerial shots and video. Below, we will link to the latest drones for aerial photography.

7 Top Drone Photography Tips

Before we get into these excellent drone photography tips, we have another few great articles, covering drone photography including “Aerial Photography Camera Tips And Best Settings“, which includes some terrific videos.  White Balance is a very important camera setting to get the perfect photo and you can read further on White Balance in this post “Understanding White Balance For Great Aerial Photos“.

Drone Photography Shot Tip 1 – Remove What You Don’t Want From Your Aerial Photos

Figure out what your aerial shot is all about and think about what you really want in the photo.  Then try to remove the rest.  So, if there is too much sky in the aerial shot, then angle your drone camera gimbal to have more landscape in the photo and remove as much sky as possible.

Also, get up as close as possible to what you want in the photo, whether your aerial shot is of landscape, people, flowers or wildlife etc. Then try to eliminate everything else from the aerial shot you want.

Now with a drone, you have to be careful.  The latest top drones fly super stable and can fly right in and hover in front of the subject you want to capture.  But you have to make sure you don’t crash your drone.  Also drones, which have obstacle sensing will start beeping as you get close to an object which can be pretty loud.

The best option is to get as close as possible to what you want in your photo.  Then, if you have a drone with a zoom lens, you can zoom right in on your subject and get that perfect aerial shot.

The DJI Mavic series of drones all have a gimbal dial on the remote control so you can move the gimbal and camera up and down to remove too much sky etc.  For a drone with a zoom camera, DJI recently released the Mavic 2 Zoom quadcopter, which has a 4x zoom, including a 2x optical zoom (24–48 mm).

Getting closer is one of the best aerial shot principles to always remember.

Drone Photography Shot Tip 2 – Keep It Simple And Exaggerate Elements

Using aerial shot principle 1 of knowing what you want in the photo, now think about how you can exaggerate it’s form or characteristics.  Try some of the following;

  • Having contrasting colors in the shot to make the image stand out.
  • Take the aerial shot using another angle using one object against another to get a sense of scale.
  • Zoom in on one particular feature.
  • Test using different cameras settings such as focal length or white balance to get different perspectives.
  • Use a long shutter speed. When you use a long shutter speed, you end up exposing your sensor for a significant period of time. The first big effect of shutter speed is motion blur. If your shutter speed is long, moving subjects in your photo will appear blurred along the direction of motion. This effect is used in many advertisements of cars and motorbikes, where a sense of speed and motion is communicated to the viewer by blurring the moving wheels. Long shutter speeds are typically above 1 second.

Drone Photography Shot Tip 3 – No Need To Always Center Your Subject

Drone Photography Aerial Shot Rule Of Thirds

Moving your subjects away from the center, is known as the “Rule of Thirds“. The rule of thirds is an essential photography technique. It can be applied to any subject to improve the composition and balance of your images.

Off center composition is more pleasing to the eye and looks more natural than one where the subject is placed right in the middle of the frame. It also encourages you to make creative use of negative space, the empty areas around your subject.

When you are viewing your potential aerial shot, imagine dividing it down into thirds.  So you should have 9 boxes as above, which is 3 x 3 boxes (horizontal and vertical).  Then put your most important aerial shot elements along the lines and in particular the 4 points of intersection.

The top drones from DJI, Yuneec, Walkera etc have First Person View (FPV), allowing you to see on your remote controller or smart phone exactly what the camera on the drone sees while flying.  In the drone app such as DJI Go 4, you can then choose grid lines in the camera settings.  This will then allow you to use the rule of thirds for your aerial shots.

Drone Photography Shot Tip 4 – Counterpoint, Juxtaposition and Abstracts In Aerial Shots

There are times when the rule of thirds isn’t the best option or their is a better aerial shot available. Here as some ideas.

Split your aerial shot in half or quarters etc. Supposing your aerial shot is capturing a snowy mountain, which is reflecting in a lake. Then a great aerial shot would be to capture the top half with the snowy mountain and the bottom half capturing the reflection in the lake.

Or an aerial shot, which contains counterpoints, juxtapositions or even creating an abstract.

A counterpoint is where there are at least two elements within an image and where each object would be independently beautiful or suitable for a great aerial shot. It is the combination of these different elements or subjects, which would make great independent photos, are photographed together making an image which is substantially more beautiful than the independent photos.

Juxtaposition is when you put two opposite things together, and the contrast of those two things becomes interesting. With juxtaposition, you are making a statement through the contrast of elements you put in the frame.

Abstract photography generally don’t adhere to the rule of thirds or any particular rules.  Abstract photography is a method of expressing ideas with photographed image elements without the intention of creating a traditional or realistic image. By avoiding and going beyond the usual representations of an object, scene, or any particular element, it reveals details that are normally ignored and triggers the viewer’s imagination.

Drone Photography Shot Tip 5 – Creating Depth In Photo

Use the near, far photography technique to create depth and pull people into the aerial shot. A photograph with a feeling of depth and perspective is much more engaging and interesting. There are a number of techniques you can use to enhance the feeling of depth in your shots.

Use these tips for creating depth in your aerial photography. These tips are from the article entitled “Creating a Sense Of Depth In Your Photos“.

Interesting foreground – For a great aerial shot with a feeling of depth, you need to include an interesting foreground subject close to the drone camera. This leads the viewer’s eye around the scene, from the foreground to the subject in the distance.

Frame the scene using the foreground – Use foreground objects to create a natural frame around the subject in your photograph. This enhances the sense of depth by guiding the viewer through the scene.

Use a wider angle – Take the aerial shot with a wider angle or zoom out which naturally exaggerates the perspective in a scene, achieving a greater sense of depth.

Use leading lines – Lines which move from the foreground into the scene create a feeling of motion, drawing the viewer’s eye along them.

Overlapping Objects – By overlapping objects you help the viewer to reconstruct the 3 dimensional scene in their mind. This allows them to mentally be “in” the scene, rather than just seeing a photo of it, creating a much stronger sense of depth.

Shoot in Portrait – Think about the way we see the world.  If you look straight ahead and move your head from side to side your eyes naturally fall on objects, which are about the same distance away. But move your head up and down and you will focus on objects at greatly varying distance – from very near to very far away.

Photograph closer to ground level – Flying the drone closer to the ground exaggerates the perspective as objects get smaller as they move into the distance, creating a greater sense of depth.

The DJI Mavic Air, Mavic Pro 2 and Phantom 4 drones all have terrain follow modes. This means that your drone will fly at the programmed level above the ground even if the landscape is rolling or elevating etc. In other words, these drones won’t crash into the ground, while flying at close to ground level because of the terrain mode.

Drone Aerial Shot Tips To Create Great Photos

Drone Photography Shot Tip 6 – Use Leading Lines

If there is multiple subjects or elements in your potential aerial shot, then look for a visual leading line to connect these elements. If you have your angles right, then leading lines add an element of depth and a journey through your photo.

Great examples are using a river, a sand dune, mountain ridge, lines in sandstone rock or a long crack in a lake covered in ice leading from foreground to background.

Drone Photography Shot Tip 7 – Capture From Different Angles and Perspectives

Look for various angles to photograph the various elements in photos.

Many of the latest 4k camera drones and in particular DJI drones have many intelligent flight modes to allow you to capture aerial shots for various perspectives.  For example the Mavic Air quadcopter has the following flight modes, which capture aerial photos and video from various angles and perspectives.

  • ActiveTrack 2.0
  • Hyperlapse
  • QuickShots
  • Points Of Interest (POI 2.0)
  • Waypoint Navigation
  • Cinematic Mode
  • TapFly

Now the Mavic Air QuickShots give you some great angles for capturing incredible aerial shots.  Here are the QuickShots modes on the Mavic Air.

  • Rocket: Ascend with the camera pointing downward.
  • Dronie: Fly backward and upward, with the camera locked on your subject.
  • Circle: The Mavic Air circles around the subject.
  • Helix: Fly upward, spiraling around your subject.
  • Asteroid: In Asteroid QuickShot, the Mavic Air flies backward and upward. It takes several photos, then flies to it’s starting point.
  • Boomerang: The Mavic Air flies backward around the subject in an oval path, rising as it flies away from its starting point. It then descends as it flies back in.

The latest Mavic 2 Zoom quadcopter has all the above QuickShots and 1 totally new QuickShot, which is as follows;

  • Dolly Zoom: The Mavic 2 Zoom flies backwards and upward. It then adjusts the zoom during flight to keep the selected object the same while the background changes.

Drone Photography Shot Bonus Tip –  Get The Lighting Right

For landscape and outdoor photography, sunrise and sunset are the best time to fly and capture great aerial photos. Morning and evening generally have great skies with the light being more suitable in both foreground and background elements.

If you have to fly and photograph during the day, then cloudy conditions work well.  Also if there are possibilities to photograph your aerial shots from shade, then these conditions will be better than in direct sunlight.

If you have to photo during the day when the sun is strong, then use directional lighting for your aerial photos.  This means, you shouldn’t photograph directly into the sunlight as this will leave your photos almost black. With directional lighting, you photo along with the sun, away from the sun or have the sun at an angle in your aerial photos.

If you have to capture a shot directly into the sun, then expose to the brightest part of the scene and let everything else go in the shadow.  Cameras today have great capabilities to retain detail from the shadows in a photo.  Then in post production, you can recover a lot of the detail from the shadow of the aerial photo.

Photography in direct sunlight is difficult and here is a terrific article called 11 tips for taking photos in direct sunlight.

Videos With Drone Photography Tips

Now, we have 3 terrific videos, which have plenty more drone photography tips.

Now to finish, here is a nice video which explains many of the above tips for taking great photos.

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