Drone Photography: Things to Know Before Flying A Drone

If you’re new to flying a drone, there is a lot to learn. I wanted to share some tips that can save you time and money also improve the drone photography. These are the tips I would give myself if I were to go back in time.

Plan How to Launch and Catch Your Drone​

First thing to do before the first flight is to calibrate the compass. You need a dry flat surface to calibrate the drone. You will need a flat space free of obstruction, even the low grass can be obstructions at time. Learn to hand launch and catch your drone (a thick glove can protect your finger tips from the props). Learn to launch from your camera backpack. Launching / landing from moving object like boat is difficult. 

Check Flight Restrictions Before Going to a New Place

Before heading out to a new location, check for flight restrictions in the DJI app or one of the other drone apps. You’ll be able to see if there are any restrictions or authorization areas in the location you plan to fly. Often when I am planning a road trip I’ll scan through the planned route so I know where I can and can’t fly.

Expect the Unexpected: Get a Less Expensive Drone First

Start with buying a cheap drone then upgrading. Set your return to home altitude for each flight. Plan what you will do when you lose connection. Plan how you will recover your drone when it does crash. Inevitably you will crash the drone (several were not going be your faults). Learn to fix few things yourself.

Plan Your Flight

Once flying your drone gets more comfortable, you’ll want to think about how to maximize each battery to get the most creative and interesting content. With a little experience, you’ll learn the types of shots that you like to capture and plan a sequence into your flight so that you can get as many interesting angles as possible. Fly in good light (sunrise / sunset) . Fine-tune the responsiveness of the drone for smooth movements and better control. Visualize your composition and flight path before launching.

Learn Your Advanced Controls

As you get more advanced with your drone skills, you’ll likely start flying in more challenging situations. Examples include flying through trees, over water, from a moving boat, in windy conditions, etc. These situations can lead to unexpected drone behavior so it’s helpful to have a full understanding of the complex controls. The most important things to know are how to turn obstacle avoidance on/off, what directions your drone will sense obstacles, how to do an emergency stop, how to access other flight modes to overcome high winds, how to find a good landing spot if you can’t get back to where you launched, and how to fly very well manually if your drone loses GPS signal and wants to drift away.

Hopefully, these tips will help you to have the best experience possible when flying your drone. There are so many cool drones on the market at very affordable prices these days that there is no reason not to get into this fun sector of photography!

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