Aerial photography isn’t new, but it’s the advent of drone technology that means it’s so accessible and readily available. In the past, you needed a helicopter, aircraft or hot air balloon to capture images from the air, but drones have revolutionised aerial photography. The types and applications are very wide, starting with aerial reconnaissance aircraft back in World War One!
What is an aerial view?
We typically think of the classic bird’s-eye view when it comes to aerial photography. This is easily achieved with a drone by pointing the camera directly at the ground. For some subjects it’s not actually the best type of shot, and it often looks flat and abstract. Shooting from an elevated position taking in background behind the subject is often more effective.
In the right hands, a drone is an incredibly powerful tool for aerial photography. A skilled pilot can navigate the aircraft to the ideal height and position and compose the shot for maximum impact. The basics of photography still apply even when shooting from unique angles, so the time of day, position of the sun and techniques such as the rule of the thirds and the golden ratio are key. Safety considerations are also important, and the operator needs to have line of sight on the drone and be aware of hazards during an aerial photo shoot.
Uses of Aerial Photography
At its most basic, aerial photography simply captures images from otherwise difficult-to-achieve angles. It’s often used to market hotels, golf courses and tourist attractions where the aerial perspective allows the viewer to really appreciate a venue. Aerial stock photography is now widely available, so you may not need to commission a drone pilot if you want some images for a website or brochure. Weddings photographers are increasingly using drones to capture elements of the day, and this is another great example of how aerial photography can add the ‘wow’ factor.
Another popular form of aerial photography is for inspections and surveys. For example, drones are ideal for carrying out roof inspections on houses, blocks of flats and industrial units. As well as capturing high-resolution images, drone roof inspections can involve thermal imaging cameras and other technology to identify areas of concern. The data captured can be processed to create 3D models for detailed analysis. Insurance companies are increasingly using drones to assess risks and record the extent of damage following fires and floods.
Drones vs Old Methods
It’s easy to understand why drones have replaced manned aircraft and camera poles as the go-to option for aerial photography. Camera quality has improved rapidly over the past few years, so even drones costing less than £500 can produce professional-standard images. The speed of deployment, safety and lower costs make them far more attractive than old methods. Drones can also capture aerial video so you don’t need a Hollywood movie budget to add impact to a marketing or wedding video.