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Aerial photography 101

Aerial photography 101

How to shoot your own aerial photos of the world

Thanks to the advent of smaller and lighter cameras that can easily be attached to our multirotors, more and more pilots are getting their high-quality shots and HD video from the sky. Let’s discuss lifting cameras into the sky by multirotor and how to guide your camera through the air. Be sure to also stay tuned for a future issue when we’ll concentrate on the best aerial video techniques.

Camera attachment
Keep in mind that it really doesn’t matter how we attach the camera to the multirotors because most of our shots will be within the hundreds or thousands of a second. Therefore, we don’t have to worry about the vibration
that is produced from the four or more motors. When taking video, we have to isolate the camera from the frame of the multirotor to prevent the dreaded Jell-O effect in our videos. When shooting photographs, all that is
needed is to have the camera mounted to the rig securely. If there is a gimbal setup already installed there is no reason not to use that same setup as a photographic mount. it a three dimensional space without drifting or
moving around. This makes it much easier for me to plan the shot because I can just place the drone where I want it and wait for the photo.

A hard mount onto the drone is perfectly fine for photography.  The soft mount is only needed for video shooting

Flying techniques
When taking photographs from the air, I tend to fly the multirotor to the designated location and then have it hover there to take the shot. I will have the camera set up to take a photograph every few seconds. Once I have the aircraft hovering in the location for the photo, I let it sit there for at least the length of time it will take to make the next exposure. For example, if I have my camera set to make an exposure every two seconds, I will hover the multirotor in that location, let it sit there for at least three seconds, then move to the next location. This will guarantee me at least one shot from the spot I want it to shoot from.

Different shot type
There are two main photo types one can make from the air, landscape shots (things that are not moving) and action shots (things that are moving). On static, landscape types of shots the camera can be set up to take a photograph every 3-5 seconds apart. Because nothing is really moving, it is easy enough to hover the aircraft in one spot for 6 to 10 seconds to take a couple of shots. This way, the multirotor is not shooting a large number of photos while going from point A to point B. This is especially useful when you have a smaller size storage card in the camera. For the action types of shots, it is much better to have the camera taking photographs
as quickly as possible; for this type of shooting I will set the camera to take photos 0.5 seconds apart. Because the action happens so quickly, such as a motorcycle jump, you want to increase the chance of getting that shot when the motorcycle is at its peak of action, or the top of the jump. Where you locate the camera can also help improve your chances of getting the photograph. If the multirotor is located so that the motorcycle rider flies across the frame, he will be in view for a very short moment, maybe less than 0.5 seconds (this is the shortest time the camera can take the photos). However, if the aircraft is placed so that it is at a 45-degree
angle to the jump, the rider will stay in frame early in the morning is that you have to wake up early and be on location before the sunrises, to take full advantage of the first rays of the early morning sun. The second downside, if it could be considered that, is that the golden light seems to dissipate much sooner in the morning than it does during the later afternoon before sunset.