• Tolulope Sanusi

5 Tips for better Aerial Photography

Drones have changed the Aerial Photography landscape without a doubt. It's now more accessible to everyone and to more companies looking to distinguish their projects online.

Aerial view of Victoria Island, Lagos.
Aerial view of Victoria Island, Lagos.

Today i want to share some tips that will help you plan and take better aerial photos that score with Clients. If you need more resources, i've linked a video for both creative and practical tips on Drone photography at the end of the post.

“Having a game plan is the first and most important. Why are you taking aerial shots and what does your Client want to see in the shots - that is always a good place to start.”

TIP 1 - Check the weather 3 days ahead

Sometimes, even intermediate and professional photographers forget to look at weather reports. When you want to shoot an aerial view of Lagos or your Client's Project out of state, it’s important to know what kind of weather you’ll have. If the winds are strong, you won’t get a steady shot.

My recommendation for an evening shoot: if you want a photo of busy lagos with traffic streaks at dusk, it’s best if you look for clear weather and low winds.

TIP 2 - Use suncalc to know the best time to shoot your subject

It's a free online resource that shows you where your shadows will be at any time of the day, on any day including the direction of sunrise and sunset to better plan for when your subject will be best illuminated.

Just input your subject location or drag the pin and tweak the time to show how the sun will move in relation to the location.

Here's the link - Suncalc.org

TIP 3 - Bracket your exposures

The small sensors in drones don’t have a very good dynamic range, they aren't very comparable to Dslrs so photographing landscapes with drones requires you to bracket a lot more.

Night shot of Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel VI
Night shot of Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel VI

Exposure bracketing involves taking multiple exposures of the same scene some being underexposed and some being overexposed so you can record a much larger dynamic range. You then take those bracketed exposures and blend them together into one image in post-production, i.e the evening shot above is a composite of 5 images. Many drones have an HDR function which blends exposures into one image automatically for you.

I recommend taking multiple exposures manually or using the AEB function which will take 3 or 5 exposures automatically with one click.This will give you more control over how the exposures are blended together in post-production, and allow you to decide how the final image looks. You can do this either with Adobe Lightroom/ Photoshop.

TIP 4 - Prepare a shot list

A shot list is essential for any shoot, working with the limited battery life of most drones; estimated between 20-30 mins at best, a shot list that's been approved by the Client ensures every flight makes the best of available light and shots.

There's nothing worse than 2 hour aerial shoot done and dusted only for the Client to remark at review that the shot with the pool deck is too far away to see the details or there's no shot of the water-side restaurant beside the hotel building.

And finally...

TIP 5 - Shoot in 2 different light scenarios

You can apply the principles of portrait lighting to landscapes even though you have no control over the light. Portrait photographers will often use side-lighting to light a face because they know that side-light reveals shape and depth. Early and late in the day the light is softened by the atmosphere in much the same way as a portrait photographer would soften the light from their flash using a softbox or umbrella.

Sunset view of UPBEAT Lekki
Sunset view of UPBEAT Lekki

You can apply these principles to landscape photography by shooting at the best times and making sure the light is coming from off to one side of the camera. As the sun hits your landscape, it will light it beautifully, showing off the shape and depth of the scene.

In some scenarios a Client might want a top down shot at high noon to clearly define the site and all the areas within, a shot at sunset with long shadows will not work, so clarify the shots needed and for what purpose.

Top down view of Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel VI
Top down view of Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel

And that's it, if you have any questions or tips share in the comment below.

Video Resource - How to Take KILLER Drone Photos | DJI Mavic Pro Tutorial

#Photography #Dronephotography #Architecture #Architecturephotography #Lagos

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