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Aerial Cameras

8 Reasons Why Your Aerial Shots Look Bad…

Derrick Threatt

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Nice horizon Aerial Shoots

…And how to improve them.

by Vadim Sherbakov / @madebyvadim

  1. Boring composition

Forest

Boring forest shoot with poorly thought-out composition

Problem: The most common mistake made by drone owners is to start shooting anything and everything they can fly over: Empty fields, backyards, houses on the road, etc. We’ve all done that, excited to fly a drone and thinking that it is so awesome to see “that place” from the air. But if you are serious about aerial photography then choose the subject wisely, don’t just shoot whatever you see.

Fix: Shooting mountains, rivers or amazing places is easy, but what to do if your subjects are not particularly memorable? Try using different angles and places. You’ll be surprised how awesome they can look, for example, from an angle looking straight down. 

Better Angle

Changing the angle will make it a completely different story.

  1. No post-production

No process

Straight from the camera, no post-production.

Problem: We see lots of images from drones that are straight out of the camera, often shot with jpeg setting, and, thus, lacking the wow factor that illustrates the location’s true beauty.

Fix: Always colour-correct your images, in order to elevate them to the next level. 

Processed

Raw file, post production

  1. Overdone post-production

Too much post

HDR is overdone

Problem: There’s no doubt post-production is essential. But watch it: Some over-saturated images or images using HDR technology look very fake and overdone.

Fix: Learn Photoshop or Lightroom and critically examine your final results.

Night shot

Post production done right.

  1. Daytime Shooting

Daytime shot

Daytime

Problem: Daytime is not the best time to shoot epic drone photos, since the sun is casting harsh shadows and the light is not flattering.

Fix: Best to wait until the time of the day often referred as The Golden Hour. It happens just before sunset and at sunrise. There are plenty of apps, free and paid, for pinpointing the precise times based on your location. Light at these hours is soft, golden, and pleasing to the eye. It also creates long shadows.

golden hour

Golden hour sunset shot.

  1. Dull weather shooting

dull weather

Dull weather = dull results

Problem: Dull weather makes even the best locations … dull. There is nothing more sad than not using locations and weather to their fullest potential. 

Fix: For epic photos you want to be proud of, check the weather forecast and try not to shoot in dull conditions. It’s time for coffee and editing those old photos you have been putting off for so long 🙂

editing

Coffee time.

  1. Jpeg, not Raw 🙁

jpeg

Single jpeg file.

Problem: There is only so much you can do with a jpeg image. For starters, its compressed format takes away any advantages of post-production. Colour correction settings and white balance are already hard-code embedded in that format, so any changes are much more difficult or even impossible, as opposed to the RAW format images. 

Fix: It is crucial to shoot in Raw format, so you can fix any mistakes or have much more room for additional work on your photo later on, including colour correcting. Raw format is much more flexible to changes, stores more information, and WB or colours are not hard-coded.

raw

RAW file with post production.

  1. Skewed horizon

horizon issues

Horizon line is badly skewed

Problem: One of many signs of professionalism is a perfectly lined horizon. Drone photos with a skewed horizon line look amateur.

Fix: It’s easy to fix it both via gimbal positioning or later in post-production. So don’t be that guy 🙂

nice horizon

Straight horizon

  1. Lost opportunities

Problem: Drones nowadays have so much to offer: raw file formats, automatic exposure bracketing, D-log setting for even more dynamic range, as well as creative opportunities to shoot straight down or make a panorama, both horizontal and vertical. So it’s a shame not to use it at full potential. 

Fix: Study your machine, study tutorials on the subjects you are not familiar with and try, try, try. Your skills will grow very quickly and you will be amazed at how much better your photos will look.

AEB 3 shots + horizontal panorama + D-log settings = great results.

closing shot

Fly safe!

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