The Dos and Don’ts of Aerial Photography

Fly high and touch the sky with this aerial photography guide. All photographers, be they amateurs, intermediate, or advanced will acknowledge that there’s nothing more sublime than a photo taken from high up in the air. Whether it’s by drone, by helicopter, or by small plane, aerial photography paints the world from the perspective of the gods. You can now see the clouds gathering, the crowds forming, and the smoke and dust rising.

Magic takes hold of everything, and the new perspective opens up a better understanding of the world. When everything, including cars, look just like ants busying about the ground in a swarm, you start to get a different worldview, realizing just how tiny you are in the whole grand scheme. With aerial photography, you still get a sense that you can become bigger, that somehow you can rise above and see the world for what it is. We’re here to show you how to get that feeling.

We’re going to present you with a run-down of tips and tricks, dos and don’ts of aerial photography, aerial landscape photography, helicopter photography, kite aerial photography and drone aerial photography. This is so that the next time you’re searching high and low for aerial photos, you’ll know exactly what to do.

Aerial Photography Things to Do

Look for Inspiration

The next time you go searching for subjects to photograph with a drone, one of the best tips is to ask a professional. If you don’t know one, find your inspiration online. Many well-known photographers share their work on their social media accounts.

Bryan Daugherty and Colin Landforce are two of the most talented aerial photographers. Both of them are from Portland and each has an active Instagram account. Take a look at their work and find unusual angles to shoot your own photos from.

Plan ahead

When using a quadcopter or a camera attached to a kite to snap a vintage photo of Florida or Miami, you need good plans. If you show up or fly your device over Seattle on a whim, you’ll probably end up with a bunch of bad photos and not much to work with. A good idea is to look for examples on Google Images. You’ll see how professional photographers approached a certain angle. The next time you want to photograph Hawaii at night or during the day, you’ll know how to do when your drone is high up.

aerial photography inspiration

Become Friends with a Pilot

Pilots make great teachers, especially if you want to polish your aerial photography skills. They’re more than happy to help and they offer their services for free in most cases. If you don’t have a relative or a friend who’s a pilot, you can look for a flight group and join it. Maryland, Texas, Dallas, Denver, Utah, Cincinnati, Boston, and Alabama are only 5 of the places which have such dedicated groups.

Learning from pilots and working together with other photographers is a sure proof way of expanding your knowledge of the concept of aerial photography.

Familiarize Yourself with Your Camera

Professional photographers will tell you that getting to know your camera is key. Before taking up photography as a business, you have to test different devices with different prices. GoPro cameras make good equipment to play with. Learn the settings, experiment with the focal length and all the other options.

aerial photography camera

Lighting conditions, exposure, and especially focus are extremely important when it comes to aerial photography. The GoPro Solo is an ideal model to test out all these details.

Make a List of what You Want to Photograph

It’s essential that you know beforehand what kind of photos you wish to take. As soon as you’ve arrived at the place you want to have your photoshoot at, make a couple of mental notes. The objects you’ll be focusing on can be anything, from a great-looking tree in Phoenix to a historical building or a brand new building in San Francisco. After you’ve looked around, you’ll feel more organized and ready to take amazing photos.

Google Maps is Your Friend

If you want to see how a terrain looks like from above, Google Maps is the perfect instrument. This tool uses different devices to show features and anomalies. A UAV is one of them. You’ll get a good look at Los Angeles from a real perspective. You can then decide whether you want to take an aerial+B2: B35 photo of it or choose Chicago instead.  A lot of companies use Google Maps when they scout for locations for their buildings. Aerial photography works just as well.

Now that we know the dos of aerial photography, time to look at the don’ts.

Aerial Photography Things to Avoid

Don’t Disable the GPS Mode

When the GPS mode on your drone or helicopter is off, photos will lack stabilization. The definition of a good shoot includes the stabilization part. Before you fly over St. Maine, San Diego, Cape Cod, or North Carolina, remember to enable this mode. Do the same if you plan on visiting the North Pole for one of your photography jobs.

aerial photography gps

Once you know more about your location, make time to fly there. Remember to let go of the quadcopter’s controls and allow the GPS mode to do its job.

Don’t Forget to Check the Weather

Sometimes, even intermediate and professional photographers forget to look at weather reports. When you want to shoot an aerial view of St. Louis or your vacation estate in the Midwest, it’s important to know what kind of weather you’ll have. If the winds are strong, you won’t get a steady shot. Our recommendation is: if you want a photo of Lake Michigan, it’s best if you look for clear weather.

Don’t Forget to Enable Night Settings

Fancy shooting New York, Tampa, or Atlanta at night? Results will be astonishing if you use special lighting accessories. Quadcopters are equipped with front lights that turn dark photos into very bright and shiny ones. Lighting is important especially if you want to take photos during sunset. With these accessories, Sacramento and Austin by night will look fantastic.

aerial photography settings

Don’t Use Any Old Camera

Drones work with both basic and professional cameras. Even so, aerial photos of Philadelphia or NJ will look better with a powerful device. The latter should have the following:

  • low light capacity;
  • 10MP+;
  • strong overall resolution;
  • higher frames per second for video;
  • strong view modes.

Be ready to spend more on a powerful camera if you want the best results.

Don’t Work with Just One Battery

Having more than a battery ready or inside your device of choice lets you shoot more stills. Not only that, but you have extra time to set up photos. You can also explore more of your surroundings.

aerial photography battery

These were our dos and don’ts for aerial photography. Tick them off your list before taking photos of Minnesota, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, or any other state with a drone or small helicopter. Buy a powerful device if you don’t want to end up with bad photos.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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