Challenges of drone photography.
Drones are more affordable now, but you’ll still be shelling out a few hundred dollars for a decent entry-level drone from reputable brands like DJI and GoPro. “You have to pay to play,” says Green. It’s easy to get caught up in the tech specs and quality when buying a new drone, but remember there’s a drone for every budget. Honing your piloting skills and understanding your drone is often a better investment than spending a small fortune for a professional drone setup.
Shooting with drones can require a professional photographer to compromise on image quality. A high-quality consumer drone camera, such as the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, will top out around 20 megapixels and has a smaller sensor than traditional DSLR cameras. “You may not have the same level of control as you would with a regular camera, depending on the setup,” Schwindt says. But what you sacrifice in image quality, you gain in mobility. Take a lot of shots and sort through them in Adobe Lightroom post-processing to find the best photos.
Weather can be a challenge. Flying drones in high winds or cloudy conditions isn’t recommended. “I’ve gone out to shoot and it wasn’t raining on the ground, but it was cloudy and misty up where I was shooting. If you get condensation on the lens, your photos will be an unusable, foggy mess,” says Green. To get the best results, know your surroundings and err on the side of caution.
Becoming a drone pilot can seem daunting, but Green says drones aren’t hard to operate. Rather, the more important concerns are being safe and playing by the rules. “People don’t pay attention to safety; they think drones aren’t as serious as they really are,” says Green. Unsafe piloting can lead to big fines and can put people and environments at risk. In response to drones’ increasing popularity, the FAA has tightened up their regulations, making it even more important to know the rules. Watch out for crowds, respect others’ privacy, and make sure you know where you can and cannot legally fly. Learn more about getting a pilot’s license and the rules you must abide by here.
Also good to keep in mind, most drones have a battery life of 30 minutes or less. Make sure to plan your piloting sessions accordingly and pack extra batteries.
“The more hours you fly, the better you become.”
Make the most of your photography flight time.
Drone photography is about the thrill of discovering new perspectives. If you’re an experienced photographer, drones can open up a new world of possibilities for you to explore. If you’re new to the medium, drones are an incredible introduction to the power of photography. No matter what stage of the journey you’re in, Green’s advice rings true: “To be a better photographer, you’ve got to take more photos. The more hours you fly, the better you become.” Be patient with the learning process, and enjoy the incredible scenes you can capture with your drone. Discover more tips from pros Ryan Longnecker and Tobias Hagg and keep your exploration rolling by reading about the past, present, and future of drone photography.