How to take epic aerial photos

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Drones are providing brand-new perspectives for photographers. Using this incredible shot by Irenaeus Herok, Getaway’s Teagan Cunniffe shares some tips on how to make the most of a drone’s bird’s-eye view.

 

Irenaeus says…

This shot was taken outside the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Wandering sands and sandstorms are a pretty well-known phenomenon in the Middle East, but you’ll only find roads covered with sand such as this a little way outside of the cities. The roads inside UAE cities are maintained regularly, very clean and safe to drive. When heading out of the city on a road trip in the UAE, make sure to take plenty of water and an extra memory card! iherok.com

 

Take it yourself

When viewed from above, the world is all about shapes, colours and composition. Harness these three aspects and you’ll create scenes that surprise

Equipment

Professional: The latest DJI Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian
(R30595, ormsdirect.co.za) provides the best image quality, but comes at an increased bulkiness and price.
Amateur: GoPro Karma (R14995, outdoorphoto.co.za) and the DJI Mavic Pro Platinum (R21899, outdoorphoto.co.za) and are perfect for outdoors enthusiasts and travellers. They’re user-friendly, deliver quality images and are easy to carry.
Hobbyist: The Parrot Bebop 2 (R7495, outdoorwarehouse.co.za) and DJI Spark (R8695, ormsdirect.co.za) are great for those wanting to have fun without breaking the bank.

Settings

Setup instructions for most drones are available on YouTube (simply type your make and model in to the search bar). Be sure to select the highest file resolution or RAW mode if available.

Practical

Shoot with the sun behind you. Like most smartphones and action cameras, drones struggle with high-contrast scenes (prevalent in aerial photography). Get better images and even contrast by keeping the light behind you.

Bracket your shots. Another way to mitigate high contrast is to set your drone up to take three (or more) shots of the same scene at various exposures and then combine them in Photoshop.

Look for strong, solid lines such as roads, coast lines and sports fields. Shoot directly above them (like Ireneaus has done in this image) to emphasise shapes and create abstract scenes.

Compose your scene symmetrically by looking for recurring patterns and ‘balanced’ scenes.

Isolate your subject against a uniform backdrop to emphasise its shape (such as a boat at sea).

Exploit long shadows created by your subject when the sun is low to form abstract scenes.

 

Getaway’s top tips

Starter tip: Include a human in the scene (ask a friend to lie down on the ground) to show scale.

Amateur tip: Create images with more information (i.e. larger file sizes) by shooting a panorama and stitching it together in Photoshop.

Pro tip: Use clip-on filters (such as a neutral density filter or polarising filter) to modify light coming into your camera. It will result in a better RAW image with which to begin processing.

 

This expert advice first appeared in the January 2018 issue of Getaway magazine.

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