With drone technology constantly evolving and the equipment getting smaller and more portable, it’s becoming much easier for the average person to get that amazing professional looking photo or video from a bird’s eye perspective. People have been taking photographs for over 100 years but, up until recently, aerial photography was limited to those with access to planes and helicopters. These days, however, just about anyone can use this new technology to capture stunning images from a new vantage point.
I recently took my DJI Mavic Air drone on flotilla in Croatia and Greece, in an attempt to get some epic aerial shots, and this is what I learned.
Research before you buy
New technology tends to get cheaper and more accessible over time and the same can be said of drones. They’ve come a long way in the last few years and today the consumer has a huge range of choices available at reasonable prices. When deciding on what drone to buy you need to consider what your main objectives are. Do you just want to have a bit of fun flying it around the park? Do you want to take great pictures and video? Are you going to take it with you on your world travels? If like me, you’re looking for something you can pack into your hand luggage whilst traveling and still have professional looking results, it's worth spending the extra money to get one of the new generation foldable drones. As I’ve said, everyone’s needs are different so take the time to do the research, don’t just buy the first thing that looks cool.
Hone your flying skills
I’ve heard some real horror stories from people who have spent hundreds of pounds on a new drone only to take it out for the first time and crash it into a neighbour’s tree or even worse, the sea. When you do get your shiny new drone, take it to the park or somewhere with plenty of open space so you can practice your flying. Once you’ve mastered it you can move onto flying in more confined spaces and over water. It's worth taking your time to hone your flying skills before attempting to take photos and video.
Think before you fly
If photography and videography is your main aim it's worth taking the time to think about and visualise exactly what kind of shots you’re trying to achieve before you get your drone into the air. Drones have limited battery life so it's important to have an idea of what kind of shot you are after or you could be spending most of your flight time buzzing around not really achieving anything. Here are a few things to consider before take-off:
Light – the position of the sun and the quality of the light can make a huge difference to your photos and video. Using a drones unique perspective you can also use the sun to get creative. I’ve seen some great shots taken from above of people and umbrellas on the beach with their shadows creating an amazing contrast to the white sand.
Slow is pro – Slow is more cinematic so use gradual movements when filming and try to use two axes of movement. For example, flying forward and upward over your favourite Greek Church makes for an amazing shot.
Get creative – There are so many ways to be creative with aerial photography. Look for unique patterns in the landscape and visualise what interesting shapes you could capture from above. Bright vivid colours also look amazing from above so experiment with contrasting colours and different angles.
Be considerate to others
Many people still view drones as suspicious and an annoyance so, when you’re on holiday, be considerate to others who may not appreciate having a drone buzzing above their yacht while they are trying to have a relaxing lunch. If you are flying over people, crowds or yachts do it at a height where your presence won’t be annoying or intrusive.
Drones and Yachts
Let’s face it, drones and water don’t mix. Many modern drones have amazing safety features like automatic home function when your battery gets low, obstacle sensors and GPS which will prevent you from crashing your drone into the sea. All these features mean that it's easier than ever to fly them and still feel confident over the water. Even though it is possible to launch a drone directly from a yacht, something I’ve done a few times now, I would always recommend taking the extra time to get a dingy into shore to launch your drone from the safety of dry land. Remember, conditions can change rapidly out there. I recently launched off our yacht in the Faraway islands after which the wind picked up substantially and it became difficult for me to get my drone back on the boat safely. Needless to say, when I finally got hold of the drone my heart was pounding through my chest. It would not be nice to watch your new drone sink to the bottom of the ocean floor so think about the weather conditions and location before flying and always give yourself a bit more battery time in case you can’t land as quickly as you’d like.
The most important thing is to have fun and be creative. Drones have opened up a world far beyond what we thought was possible for the average person and it's incredibly rewarding experimenting with aerial photography and videography. So have fun and enjoy it and we look forward to seeing your incredible drone shots in our next photo competition. Happy flying!