Home Photography Ideas: Landscape Lighting Using a Drone!

Watch the video: Home Photography Ideas – Landscape Lighting Using a Drone!

Capturing beautiful landscape photographs is a fantastic way to get the most out of your drone. However, while photo drones can capture fantastic landscape photographs on their own, there is actually another way to use them for stunning photos.

By attaching a few high power LEDs to a drone, we can turn it into a highly mobile lighting rig, capable of highlighting outdoor scenes and subjects from overhead angles for amazing landscape photography.

Not only does this open up all kinds of interesting photo opportunities – from long exposure “drone trails” to otherworldly “flying saucer” lighting – it also means that we can combine the aerial prowess of a drone with the (vastly superior) capture quality of our digital SLRs.

In this project we will explain how it is done. Obviously, this is something best to try at dusk or after dark, because that’s when LEDs will make a real difference – and ethereal lighting will be there. most efficient air.

We chose to shoot at dusk in this case. When the sun goes down below the horizon, the colors of the sky can become beautifully vivid, but the foreground remains in deep shadow. By flying the drone over the tree and illuminating the lights on the grass ahead, we were able to light up the foreground while keeping the distant sky bright and colorful.

• Find out more: The best camera drones

Capture landscape photography with a twist

(Image credit: Avenir)

01 Choose a location
A solitary tree gives a strong and rigid form against a twilight sky. Flying a drone in low light conditions means that obstacle avoidance capabilities are limited. So use an open area where there is less chance of cutting a tree branch or wires.

02 The drone
We use a DJI Mavic Pro quadcopter to light our stage; it is one of the best consumer drones. Importantly, it’s able to easily carry two LED Lume Cube – a task smaller and lighter drones would struggle with.

03 Light sources
Our light source consists of two Lume Cube LEDs. You can use any LED (or even a lightweight Speedlite), but Lumes are a good choice because they are very bright, they can be controlled via an app, and there are dedicated mounts for drones.

04 Variable angles
We can light our scene from any angle, but we are limited because we cannot move the lights too far from the scene or they will be too dim. A downward angle towards the light gives our landscape scene an otherworldly feel.

05 Tripod
Photographing in low light means a tripod is essential. With 10 seconds exposure time here, we can fly the drone around the scene to paint with light. You can also shoot several aligned images and then reconstitute them later.

06 Twilight
Once the sun sets below the horizon, the sky can often display intense colors, so we chose a view to the west to capture them. The light fades quickly, so you will need to take photos quickly, especially if you intend to mix multiple images.

Light painting with a drone!

(Image credit: Avenir)

01 Flight schedules

Most drones have a flight time of around 20-30 minutes before the battery runs out (it will then return home and not fall from the sky). So it’s a good idea to have a spare battery or two – you don’t want to run out of juice and miss out on shots at a crucial time.

(Image credit: Avenir)

02 Pulling extra weight

The dedicated mount we used allowed us to attach two Lume Cubes to the drone. Whatever lights you use, consider the weight and center of gravity of the drone. The extra weight will reduce flight time – it cut ours down by about 10 minutes, giving us 17 minutes.

(Image credit: Avenir)

03 Smart lighting

Lume Cubes can be connected to your phone via Bluetooth, then controlled with an app, allowing you to turn them on and off. They can also be configured to be strobe, so it is possible to use them in optical slave mode in combination with a speed light if desired.

• Lume Cube review

(Image credit: Avenir)

04 Smart flight

It helps to have a friend fly the drone so that you can focus on shooting. To make flying easier, many drones have smart flight modes that allow you to orbit an object, lock and follow a moving subject, or set and follow waypoints in the sky.

(Image credit: Avenir)

05 Configure your camera

With an exposure time of 10 seconds, we can “paint with light” by moving the drone around the scene. It doesn’t matter if the drone fits into the frame while shooting, as it is easily removed by replacing it with a clean area from another frame. The ideal settings will depend on the brightness of your LEDs and the strength of the daylight. Turning at dusk here, we’re in manual mode at 10 seconds, f / 11, and ISO250. The manual mode allows us to keep our exposure consistent when we shoot images. Remember to mount your camera on a tripod for optimal stability throughout your capture.

Read more:

The best drones for beginners: drones that ensure safety and simplicity
The 10 best photo drones: these are the best drones for photography
The best DJI drones: we select the best drones from the most famous manufacturer


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