Technological advances in electronic miniaturization allow the general public to acquire high quality drones to shoot aerial photography. Nonetheless, piloting a drone requires some specific skills, which range from a good control of piloting to perform smooth trajectories for video, or a well-stabilized and well framed hover to take sharp photos. In the same way as on the ground, these two disciplines are relatively close while having some peculiarities of their own, especially with regard to the quality level of the on-board camera sensor. Here are the best tips to succeed in drone shooting.
Drone Shooting: A Two-Stage Work
A panorama is usually made up of the juxtaposition of several beautiful images in a single field of view. To succeed it during drone shooting, you have to take successive photos under the same exposure conditions and at very close intervals. You also need to think about opting for a white balance fixed for the whole according to the weather conditions. Do not forget to set the focus precisely to infinity or hyperfocal, and to turn off the autofocus.
In order to limit the number of photos to be assembled to obtain the final result, you should opt for relatively short focal length lenses, of the wide-angle type. But below a limit, deformations appear on the outer edges. At most, we come to fish-eye type photos. These particularly visible deformations at the level of the horizon make the creation of a panoramic assembly very complex, if not downright impossible.
Software specialized in the processing of digital photography, and not just aerial photography, offers assistance in this second task. Taking quality panoramas is not only the job of a drone pilot, but also that of a photographer who is comfortable with post-processing tools.
Drone Shooting: Stability and Quality of Shots
In ground photography, successive shots are taken using a digital SLR mounted on a well-stabilized stand. With a drone, having a fixed axis around which the camera will rotate is not an option. You have to do a very precise hover. We rotate our drone on itself, or we control the rotation of the camera. Some mobile applications offer to manage the rotation of the drone for you as well as the shooting on a regular basis during this time. This can be a help, although the absolute regularity between two photos is not fundamental for the next step.
In some cases, it is possible to video capture the entire rotation of the device. The software that will intervene later will take care of extracting the unwanted elements to create the final panorama. This second solution is not favored by purists, though. Indeed, the vertical resolution of a full HD 1080p camera is just 1080 pixels. The resolution of the video provided by a 4k UHD camera will be 2160 pixels. But in pure photography, sensors can do much better. The sensor of a PowerEgg drone, for example, will offer photos at 3264 pixels high, 50% more than the 4k images it also supports.
Using the Right Post Production Software
Each photo is retrieved in raw format on the micro-SD card after the drone lands. It is aligned with its neighbor using so-called concordance points. This involves defining the overlap area where a fixed element is located (rooster of the steeple, top of a red light, traffic sign, etc.). The programs used often offer to determine them themselves. However, there should always be a phase of manual verification and correction. You will see the absence of distortion notion, especially of the horizon, because of too short a focal length. Likewise, as the clouds move and often quite quickly, automatic tools conventionally make it possible not to look for points of concordance in the sky. Once the different images are well aligned with each other, all you have to do is stitch them together in order to obtain the final panorama. It is better to favor manual and constant exposure while drone shooting. There is little work therefore compared to the automatic mode which would have chosen a different exposure for each shot. Putting together 3 or 4 photos in order to vastly widen the visual field compared to a simple photograph often gives a breathtaking result. The principle is expandable with many photos up to 360 degrees of the full turn.