Phantom Drone Photography

How to make compelling photos with your DJI Phantom Drone

The Phantom is not only a great video camera, but it also takes fantastic still photos with plenty of options. With the introduction of the Phantom 3 and its Lightbridge FPV system, photographing has become a lot easier, and gives a photographer full control over the process. Although image quality is still not the same as with a DSLR camera, the Phantom drones have pretty impressive cameras onboard, and the added value of positioning yourself in 3-D space wherever you want to give you a real advantage over any ground-based camera.

 

Get the basics.

Be sure to go through all settings and camera options before you take off and learn all you can about your phantom camera. This saves valuable airtime, and lets you think before takeoff about scenes you want to take. You need to know the effect of all the settings blindfolded before being able to use your drone “in the moment” to create stunning photography.

For example, one of the most important settings is image quality and file types. Be sure to use the Phantom’s RAW capabilities by selecting RAW as your standard file output type. This way you can edit photos later in Lightroom more efficiently and with fewer losses.

 

Know your territory.

Before you take off, make sure you have an idea of which scenes could be suitable for compelling photography. Check the light, and walk around to see how it changes with the angle. Like a movie director, you must make yourself a mental “script” about how your shooting should look like.

 

Compose a perfect image.

Image composition is key in photography – it can make a photo more interesting by balancing the foreground and background areas, or by giving a particular object a prominent position. With a drone, you have the full freedom of positioning your camera in space, and you can use all 3 Dimensions. Play with positioning and use the FPV monitor to check the outcome. And sometimes, it is good to not let your drone fly hundreds of feet high because some of the most beautiful scenes involve an interesting foreground, taken 10 to 30 feet high, and combine it with stunning background scenery. There is no need to always go “high” for a good shot!

 

Be ready to discover.

Your camera drone can be positioned mid-air in 3D space, but your eyes cannot. That’s why with even the best planning, every scene will look different once you’re up in the air. And some nice angles will only be discovered once you’re there. What I like to do on a new scene is to fly up once and just look around. Fly a little back and forth, see which objects are interesting and what could be a good background. Look straight down. Check the light, which is the most critical ingredient to a good photo.

Straight down scenes are beautiful
Some scenes are most beautiful looking straight down.

Go advanced.

Once you master the basics, you can go and do the more advanced stuff. The DJI Phantom offers many possibilities, such as taking panoramas, 360° photos, and excellent HDR photography. I have dedicated a separate blog article on HDR photography which will be posted shortly!

→ Read on: Photography tips: Colors of Fall

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