Goðafoss Waterfall, Iceland
It’s no secret that many of the images featured on my blog are photos from a drone. Since 2010, my husband has been around drones. He’s designed, built, flown, and raced drones as a major hobby. Over the years we’ve learned quite a bit about drones and their evolving role as a fun and useful tool for all kinds of people. I often get asked questions about the drone photos I feature on my instagram and blog, so today I thought it would be fun to share some basic information for those who want to get into drone photography.
1. Research, research, research.
I didn’t want to lead with this, but it is one of the most important steps, I promise! Flying a drone might seem like you’re just flying a toy but the truth is that there are many rules and safety considerations to think about before you even make the big purchase. If you just want to fly for fun and not take any serious photos there are many toy-related drone options, such as the Hubsan X4 we got for our pre-teen son (or with FPV monitor & 720p video, or the upgraded camera version with 1080p video here).
2. Decide how you will use your drone.
This is not to say that your use won’t evolve over time, but using a drone to make profits has it’s own set of rules that you need to follow. Here are some helpful guidelines for getting started. If you want to fly for fun, I’d consider buying a smaller drone instead of investing in one with better camera/video capabilities. You can always upgrade later if you change your mind. We currently use a DJI Phantom, but are awaiting the newly released DJI Mavik to arrive. My friend Cristen just picked up her first drone, a Yuneec Breeze and she loves it. It is a good beginner drone with photo capabilities.
3. Register and read the rules.
Not all drones need to be registered, but if yours is sizable it probably does. You can check this section of the FAA’s website to see if it should be registered. While you’re there, read up on the basic safety rules and information about where to fly. As ‘safe’ as most drones these days are, they are still subject to error by nature or operator. It is not safe to fly them in crowded areas or over people’s heads for extended periods of time. The propellers are very sharp and can cause serious injury. There are also various no-fly zones such as places near airports, national parks, and other sanctuaries.
4. Practice, and heed the rules.
While most consumer drones are fairly easy to fly out of the box, you should spend a good amount of time flying somewhere safe like your backyard, an empty park, or other uncrowded area so you can familiarize yourself with the controls and general sense of direction. Read the manual and be familiar with flight time and different notifications you may receive from your drone (that low-battery warning is important!). It would be very wise of you to also practice flying without aid from the drone, just in case something happens and you have to fly it manually. I have to admit, I have the hardest time keeping the altitude steady when flying manually. Please, for the sake of all drone pilots, follow the rules and fly safe. It only takes one bad pilot to give the rest a bad name.
5. Have fun, and be safe!
Now you can spend your time doing fun activities with your drone like flying to places you can’t see on foot, taking beautiful photos, or even snapping a dronie (ha!).
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Have you flown a drone before? Do you want to?