Improving Drone Photography: Avoid Landscapes – Focus On The Details

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Hello there! I’m a 30 year old Swiss droner. I started to slowly stand out on Instagram as soon I started focusing more on the details.

I mean… anyone can take a beautiful landscape shot with the golden hour and stuff. Landscapes are beautiful, that’s not the point. What I mean here is that when I take a picture, I know exactly what I want as a final product. For example, a specific angle of a specific building or even a 3 seconds exp. shot of a car in a roundabout at night.

I would like to give you a few keys here, a step by step process guide and some of the things I constantly use to ensure there are more details in my photos. There’s also questions I ask myself every time I’m out for a session or a gig.

Start with Why. Why is the most important question. Why are you taking this picture? You need to ask yourself: What’s the purpose? Do you have the right weather conditions? Are you looking to work with shadows? Some people will say: “do not take pictures around noon”, I like to ask why. Great or not is a question of taste. You first need to satisfy yours. Anyway, you get the point.

Once you know why, be mindful of your preparation. The fly time is limited. We have to be prepared! Go for efficiency. We all started setting everything up and sent our drone in the air. And then, many people, and still some advance ones, will say: “What now? What should I photograph?” This is a question for before. Once you started, it’s go time.

To avoid this, I spend 80% of my drone time on my computer making a flight route on Google Earth and Google Maps, saving locations I like. Then looking on the map again, I check what or where could be the spot(s) I could send my drone from and get the most out of my “battery life”. For example, with 4 batteries when I’m onsite I can take up to 200+ pictures and with enough time to focus on the quality meaning 75% of the pictures I take are almost ready for social media or even being sold as is.

Small tip with Google Earth: there’s a “distances measuring tool” (the logo is a tiny ruler). We are not here to talk about regulations and laws. We all need to follow the rules. But knowing your target is for example 347m away from where you intend to send your drone could give you information such as “Will I still have my visual line of sight once I get there?”

Coming back to the main topic, Details. I’m ready to show you what I really mean by details:

Purpose

It’s linked to your “why”. Try to highlight the essential. By the way, this could also mean a mountain or a waterfall, and then it becomes a landscape, which isn’t a bad thing. By saying, avoid landscapes – focus on the details, I want to point out that anyone can take a random scenery. But you will level up your game once you are able to show your audience exactly why you sent your drone in the air.

Light: the right moment, the right time!

Long story short, the word “photography” comes from the word “light” in Greek. This should give you an idea of the importance of having the right light when you’re out for taking pictures. When I realised that, it completely changed my approach with photography. Afterall, we are “capturing” light on the sensor.

The advice I like to give is to wake up at 5am and go out to capture the morning’s golden hour. Even if it’s just for the beautiful memories you will make.

Framing is life!

The very first thing I learned and gave me wings was the rule of third, really powerful!

But also:  

  • Only go for dead centre if you are in a symmetric frame.
  • Try the golden ratio while framing on the drone app. Or once editing in post.
  • Never put the horizon in the middle of the frame, this is too “gimmicky“.

You can make some research on those topics. This is very useful and it will quickly help you improve your photographies.

Editing

You want to edit your pictures in a way that people will say: “oh, I know who it is from”.

At the beginning, we all need to find what our style is going to be and the way we like to edit our work. The best you can do is having, most of the time, an edit that’s going to be (very) similar on every picture. The best way to achieve this is to make and save your own presets on your soft. You will save time and be very efficient again.

Btw, I’m going to assume that we are taking pictures to post them on social media. This is why I have this specific approach.

Long story short, we need to be “catchy” on social media. Our followers’ eyes need to be caught right away. If it’s something they already know, it will be easier and it might look nicer on your feed too.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B6KRv-dhaAb/

Some other things:

  • Know your gear, what it’s capable of, and what you can’t do with it.
  • If you see a “damn good” picture on your favourite social media, try to find out where it is. Go there and do it your way. When you upload your pic, mention the guy in your description and say thank you + spot founded through this guy + ” @ him”.
  • Connect with people who create content you like. I’ve made some very cool “ig-friends”.

Last but not least, if you constantly save the spots you see online, you will then be able to do some road trips to places you never went. But with the feeling that you already know them.

I hope you found something in this article that you can apply to your own process.

To give you a bit more information about me, I’m almost only into topdowns. I like architecture, urbanism, “border topdown”, symmetrical stuff, lines you can only see from the air, etc… But I also go sometimes in the wild to capture nature.

“Yes I’m a photographer” It has never been that easy to say that. But we have all the same tools in our hands. We are technicians. We set and use gear to get the results we want. Showing the world what we saw when we were there.

And to show my craft, I created a book of my 100 best pictures of 2019. It’s available on purchase. Feel free to connect with me.

About the author – Simon Wicht

Drone Photography Bible would like to thank Simon Wicht for submitting this guest article. He is an incredibly talented photographer based in Switzerland.

You can find some of his work included in this article but his full gallery can be found on his Instagram account. Please visit his page, view his work and follow him. Here you can also find his photo-book, Isolated Details.

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1 thought on “Improving Drone Photography: Avoid Landscapes – Focus On The Details

  1. Well explained, couldn’t agree more! But after all the google maps prep, still keep an eye out. Sometimes you‘ll finde hidden gems right next to the spot you are focused on.

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