How Drones Gave Me a New Perspective in Photography

Posted by - August 12, 2016 | Category: Contributing Author

Drone via Pixabay

Image Source: Pixabay

I have always believed in a great photo’s ability to tell a story. Perhaps this is why I got myself into photography. Years ago when DSLRs weren’t widely available to the consumer market yet, I would immerse myself in beautiful photos taken by a film camera that were occasionally exhibited at the nearby photo gallery. Even nowadays, I would still drop by photo exhibits when I can just to get some inspiration and perhaps remind me why I started in the first place.

As a photographer, I have dabbled in all types of photography before finding my niche, so I know the limitations of each type. However, the entry of drones in the photography world seems to have broken through these barriers and opened a door of possibilities for professionals and hobbyists alike.

First, it allows me to be more adventurous with the shots I take. Since the drone is compact and lightweight, it can easily fit into nooks and crannies that would otherwise be difficult for bulky stand-alone cameras to take shots with. I found that this feature is especially helpful with taking photos in rooms or indoor gardens where space is limited.

There is even one drone called the Ziphius (that I have yet to try) that makes it possible to take photos of the seabed from a radical underwater bird’s-eye perspective, which is usually only doable with landscapes.

Lastly, drone photography enables me to plan my shots ahead of time. Being a traveler, I am used to just winging it on the road, and that often happens when I take photos (I used to plan my shoots regularly when I was just starting out, but that somehow became less frequent as I gained more experience). Although improvisation works for other types of photography, it doesn’t quite does the trick for drones. For example, when shooting weddings, you have to plan as far as a week so that you know from which location points you should launch your drone and the proper time to do so.

Capturing that Perfect Photo

Aside from planning your shots, you should also practice using your drone to take photos. Here are a few tips to ensure better pictures:

  • For better stability while shooting up in the air, use a shorter camera lens.
  • For sharp photos, use a camera with a fast shutter speed. The recommend range is around 1/500th to 1/750th of a second on a 100mm lens or 1/500 at 100mm or 1/1,000 second on 200mm.
  • For haze reduction, use the high contrast setting of your camera.
  • For safety purposes, practice maneuvering your drone at parks and open areas first until you feel confident enough to use it at your desired shoot location.

Most importantly, remember to still apply the basic rules of photography like the rule of thirds and the rules of proper framing, balance, and proportion when taking your drone photos. Make sure that your photos are free of noise and unnecessary elements while framing. Shoot when the sun is about the rise and go down to make the most out of natural lighting. All these contribute to capturing that perfect shot with your drone.

Aside from knowing how to take photos and when to take it, drone photography helped me become mindful of the laws regarding photography practice and the gadgets I use for it.

Know the Law

For many years, drones have been known as tools for committing crimes of espionage and mass destruction. To protect their citizens, government bodies, both local and national, have crafted laws and statutes to prevent damage and disturbance caused by drones. As a photographer using this device,make sure you abide by these laws.

If you’re shooting in the U.S., make sure that your drone is registered to meet the requirement of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) before using it. Otherwise, be prepared to serve up to 3 years in jail or pay up to $250,000 as penalty. And if it is for commercial purposes, make sure that you secure permission from the FAA first.

Get a professional drone pilot license, if needed.

Aside from FAA’s permission, you also need to be a licensed drone pilot to use a drone for commercial purposes. This is the government’s way to ensure that anyone who enters into the national aerospace has adequate skill and knowledge of what and what not to do. Though it may seem like a hassle, a professional drone pilot license can give your business added credibility, helping you attract more clients.

If you’re just taking photos with your drone for recreation, there is no need to get licensed. But you do have to abide by the following drone safety dos and don’ts from the FAA:

Dos:

  • Do register your aircraft if it weighs more than 0.55 lbs.
  • Do fly a model aircraft at the local model aircraft club.
  • Do take lessons and learn to fly safely.
  • Do contact the airport or control tower when flying within 5 miles of the airport.
  • Do fly a model aircraft for personal enjoyment.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t fly near manned aircraft.
  • Don’t fly beyond line of sight of the operator.
  • Don’t fly an aircraft weighing more than 55 lbs. unless it’s certified by an aeromodeling community-based organization.
  • Don’t fly contrary to your aeromodeling community-based safety guidelines.
  • Don’t fly model aircraft for payment or commercial purposes.

Incorporating drones in my photography practice has been quite a learning experience for me. Though it’s new technology, it has taught me to always be rooted in the foundation of photography and be abreast of relevant laws. It has also taught me to be more responsible with the pictures I take and be more considerate of the other occupants in the locations I shoot in. I guess it’s safe to say that it changed the way I view photography.

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