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Beginner’s Guide To Travel Drone Photography

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Drones have completely changed photography. While we are already used to almost every single angle produced with a standard camera, Drone photography continues to deliver surprising perspectives, angles and point of viewpoints that we would have never dreamed. But before you fly a drone you have to consider few things and that’s why I will share with you this beginner’s guide to travel drone photography

But why should you consider using a drone for photography?
  • Create different compositions
  • “Bird-eye” view
  • You can take more images in a shorter time (drones are faster than walking!)
  • It’s fun, amusing!

So today we’ll go through my step by step guide on how can you take travel photography with your drones!

Best Travel Drone Photography?

DJI Mavic 2, don’t even think about it.

When talking about drones, DJI is like Amazon; no competitor comes close to it.

The DJI Mavic 2 is not only lightweight and portable to fit inside your camera bag, but it also has excellent autonomy. It can create fantastic quality photography and even better videos!

Honestly, don’t overthink it.

Drone Travel Photography: Preparation

Are drones allowed?

Before you even think of flying a drone anywhere, look at the regulations! Some places require a drone pilot licence so you should be doing some investigation before placing your Drone up in the air!

If you are about to freak out thinking “how will I look at each country’s regulation” take a look at uavcoach, they have summarized everything you need to know!

Be aware of the following: Some countries allow you to fly with a licence, others will allow you to operate without a licence but under certain conditions, and some countries have drones banned.

In my opinion, I don’t even consider taking my Drone with me to those countries. They will likely confiscate it in the custom, and you might never be able to see it again.

Airmap App covering almost every airport in Santiago Chile

Also, I always take a look at the app “AIRMAP”, they have a very extensive list of almost every airport, heliport and aerodrome. Being honest, I think many of the places they are listing can be airports that are almost never used. For example, I did some research and, even in Patagonia, it was full of airports. I’m 100% sure there aren’t so many and if, they are used by multimillionaires that might be going there once a year for holidays.

DJI app shows a fewer amount of airport and restricted spaces, but they are the main ones.

DJI app is great at showing the no fly zone areas. As a basic rule, I always look at “AIRMAP” first, just to check if there might be any tiny aerodrome close, then using the DJI app.

Use your common sense.

I must admit that I have flown my Drone in places where I didn’t have a licence (not saying you should do it), but I have always been cautious when using it to avoid any problem.

For example, flying a drone in a big city where I know I could get in serious problems is a big no. In places like London, NY or Paris, I’d avoid doing it (though it is always tempting 😂)

Never fly your Drone during midday or peak hours. That’s when most of the people outside, and when most of the police are doing their jobs. Always check if there is any kind of airport close to where you are. It can happen that some tiny aerodrome could be close to where you are, always check!

Fly your Drone where you are less likely to be noticed. If you came up with the crazy idea of flying it in Time Square, good luck!

I came up with the conclusion that flying a drone could be a fun experience but also a ridiculously stressing one. That’s why nowadays I mostly use it for landscape situations and maybe -repeat, maybe- I’d wake up at 4 am to fly in a city (still not in London).

Drone Travel Photography: The Settings

dji menu

Grid Lines

Use the Rule of thirds Grid Lines, it is always helpful to remember composition and to create better compositions

Image Ratio

Use 2:3 this way you are not cropping in camera. If later you want to change to 16:9, do it in Lightroom, you’ll have more megapixels to play with.

dji menu

Image Format

As same as photography regular photography, shoot in RAW. Raw files contain much more information which allows you to edit your images.

For more detailed information on RAW vs JPEG read: Camera Tutorial for Beginners, and scroll to where it says RAW vs JPEG

If you are like me and have a mom that’s always asking for your travel photos, then Shoot JPEG+RAW. This way, you can quickly share the JPEGs.

Focus:

I leave in Auto unless:

  • The Drone is not being able to focus on what I want
  • I want to do a panoramic
dji menu

White Balance

I generally leave it in “sunny” because I fly during sunny days. BUT, if I’d fly it under some bad weather, would change it to the respective one.

Anyways, if you are shooting RAW, you can easily change it in post.

ISO

Always try to keep it as low as possible. I’m almost always shooting at 100 and play with the Shutter Speed.

Shutter Speed:

I try to not got longer than 1/50 as the drone is a flying object that moves. That’s why you want a fast shutter speed to avoid blur

Manual Mode

It will help you to have better control of the settings you are shooting

Composing:

This is why Drone photography is excellent, as you are using a flying object that moves quickly from one place to another, you will be able to create more compositions!

Fundamental Rule of thirds is always helpful, but Drone photography shines when you can find patterns that you are not able to see when standing at ground level. 

Use “bird-eye” view to find interesting shapes and patterns.

aereal shot of a forest
aereal shot of a coral reef
aereal shot of a beach

Drone Travel Photography: Panos for the Win

Due to a bigger sensor and camera, with Mavic Pro 2 you won’t be able to get vertical shots, but don’t worry!

Take 3 shots of the scene you want and stitch them in Lightroom!

To merge them, what you have to do in Lightroom is Photo > Photo Merge > Panorama.

Then, the best thing I’d recommend you is to play with the settings they give you and see what works better. Generally speaking, I go for spherical blending, however, I’d always try out what works the best.

Santiago Chile Skyline

Polarizers

Finally, Polarizing filters are fantastic for you to include in your drone photography as they will produce better-looking images. How? But reducing glare and giving an extra pinch of contrast in your images. They’ll really take your game to the next level, specially when shooting the ocean.

Now that you have read “A Beginner’s Guide To Travel Drone Photography”

Be sure of the following steps:

  • Take a look at local regulations
  • Pay EXTREME attention for eventual airports that could be in the surroundings
  • Use your common sense on what places and at what times to fly it.
  • Use the provided settings and some good polarizer filters!
  • Keep shooting for fantastic content!

Hope that you have enjoyed and that this “A Beginner’s Guide To Travel Drone Photography” provides quality information for you. Remember to share this article and save this pin in your photography board!

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