Drones have experienced a massive surge in popularity over the past few years. With the increase in people turning their attention to the skies, comes an increase in aerial photography. We can certainly see the appeal! With your camera up in the sky, you can capture views previously inaccessible to those of us with our feet on the ground. But how to get started? We had a chat with Alex from UK videography company Infinite Pixel, who agreed to share some expertise and drone photography tips, and tell us all about why he loves working with drones.
As Operations Manager of one of Warwickshire’s most exciting creative agencies, Alex has plenty of experience using drone footage to capture a wide range of occasions. “We help businesses celebrate events and wow consumers with new product and service launches,” explains Alex, “we capture the most important day of happy couples’ lives and win awards for property marketing.”
Why Try Drone Photography?
The use of a new aerial perspective can be used to enrich virtually any type of photography, whether your passion is for documenting local wildlife, happy weddings or exotic landscapes. “You’re viewing life from a dimension nobody can physically see without being on a vehicle. Your perception of everything changes once you’ve seen it from 50 metres in the sky!” Alex tells us, “it’s a flood of new opportunities.”
Whether as an enthusiastic amateur or as a creative professional, drone photography is an exciting way to add a new dimension to your work. It requires a combination of technical skill and artistic flair, but the results are incredibly rewarding.
It’s the more challenging projects Alex is the most passionate about. “To date my favourite project was a 360° video we did for TUI Cruises. The end scene is an amazing drone shot of the cruise ship sailing along through the Mediterranean. The beauty of this shot is it’s an extremely difficult manoeuvre with the drone. So the ship was travelling at 40 knots, the windspeed against us was 40 mph, so our pilots had to fly the drone at the perfect speed and height and capture the shot perfectly otherwise the drone would be on the sea bed at the bottom of the Mediterranean!”
As you can see for yourself, the results were well worth the risk.
Drone Photography Tips
Get the right equipment
The first step to getting into any new photography is getting your equipment right. Start with buying a smaller drone, and always be sure to follow the safety guidelines set out by the BMFA and the CAA.
For a first drone, Alex recommends the DJI Spark, which retails for around £300. “It’s small, nimble, easy to use and very cool!” and adds, “it’s always beneficial to have spare parts for your drone, as you never know what might happen.”
Keep your drone safe
One of the biggest fears most new drone enthusiasts seem to share is the risk of crashing or losing their expensive new gadget. It’s one thing to spend several hundred pounds on a new camera lens, but another to spend the same amount on a drone that could potentially crash into a tree on it’s maiden flight.
It’s best to start slow, and hover your drone just a few feet off the ground for your first few flights, in a wide open space with no pedestrians. Alex’s advice is to “be confident but not daring. Take your time and remember your drone will always have safety modes like ‘Return to Home’. Avoid public areas and always look out for open spaces with telegraph poles, street lights and other obstacles high in the area.”
Upgrade when the time is right
Once you’ve built up your confidence with drone photography, you might feel ready to upgrade your equipment to get even better shots. If you’ve got the budget, Alex highly recommends the DJI Phantom 4. “You can buy 4k cameras to mount on the Gimbal head,” Alex says, describing the piece of pivoted support equipment that allows you to swivel the camera view, giving you much more scope for what kind of images you can capture. “It also has a ‘Photo Mode’ which will take several images continuously. It helps you get that perfect shot!”
Get the best light
Like all photography, lighting is a key factor in taking great pictures with your drone. Alex favours the golden hour, “our best drone photos have come from dusk and dawn. You can keep the mode to auto, but the light flare creeping in from the sun is beautiful.”
Whether you’re thinking of taking up drone photography as a hobby, or you’re a professional photographer looking to add something new to your services, Alex says “the most important thing is to enjoy it. If it starts to become laborious or a chore then you need to look at doing something different.” But ultimately, the thing Alex loves most about his job is the reactions of his clients, “the ‘wow factor’ when they see our work… it’ll never get old, we’ll never get tired of seeing that reaction.”