stills, video, or both? Do you travel much? All of these factors
play a huge role in finding a device that you’ll be comfortable
with. Personally, I wanted a drone that could produce professional images, withstand frequent travel, and act as an all-around workhorse. With these features under consideration,
the DJI Mavic Pro ($999) was my go-to choice. I am a huge
fan of DJI. The company has a bunch of different models for
every level of consumer.
2. Know the Rules
I would highly recommend downloading the FAA Remote
Pilot UAS Study Guide at faa.gov for the commercial license
test. Even if you’re not applying for your license, you’ll find
information on proper flight methods, restrictions, and pretty
much everything you need to properly handle a drone for
personal or commercial use.
3. Be Prepared
At the shooting location, it usually takes less than five
minutes to unpack your drone and get it in the air, but it’s
very important to prepare your gear ahead of time. I usually
have the drone, batteries, and controller in separate carrying
cases; that way I can spread them around my bag to make
packing easier. I currently use four batteries, which I’m always charging so I don’t miss a shot. I’ll usually charge all the
batteries the night before a shoot and power up the drone
to confirm the software is up to date. Once you’ve driven an
hour to capture a shot just to be stopped for 30 minutes while
the drone performs a mandatory update, you’ll find yourself
taking preventative measures so it doesn’t happen again.
ADVICE FOR CAPTURE
1. Gain Perspective
The best part about flying with a drone is the ability to be
physically stationary while seeing so many different angles
and perspectives and colors. I usually try to scout locations
prior to going out; a lot of that time is spent switching
between Google and Apple Maps to see if locations would
look good from an aerial perspective.
My biggest piece of advice is to remember how important
a role light plays in aerial photography. The time of day you’re
flying will either make or break your scene.
2. Consider Your Environment
The coolest thing about producing aerial imagery is that I
don’t have to go far to find something worth shooting. One of
my favorite shots I’ve taken was right above my house. But
really any form of nature looks amazing from a bird’s-eye view.
Just make sure to follow local laws pertaining to drones!
It’s also a great idea to bring a set of Neutral Density (ND) and
Polarizing (CP) filters if you’re going to be shooting in different
landscapes. Luckily there are a ton of accessories being made
for the newer line of drones to maximize your image quality.
Christopher Henshaw is a freelance photographer who splits his time bet ween California and New York. His interests include breaking and crashing motorcycles, scouting shooting locations on Google Maps from the comfort of his bed, and disappearing
into the wilderness with his friends on weekends. Contact Christopher via his website,