The Complete Guide to Aerial Photography

Aerial photography has become increasingly popular over the years, thanks to advancements in drone technology. Whether you’re a professional photographer, a hobbyist, or someone looking to capture stunning aerial views, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know about aerial photography. From choosing the right equipment to capturing the perfect shot, we’ve got you covered.

What is Aerial Photography?

Aerial photography is the practice of taking photographs from an elevated position using a camera mounted on a drone, helicopter, or airplane. Aerial photography provides a unique perspective that is not possible from the ground. It allows photographers to capture stunning views of landscapes, buildings, and other structures from above.

History of Aerial Photography

Aerial photography has been around since the mid-19th century. The first aerial photographs were taken from hot air balloons in the 1850s. In the 20th century, aerial photography became more common with the use of airplanes and helicopters. Today, aerial photography is more accessible than ever with the use of drones.

Types of Aerial Photography

There are several types of aerial photography, including low-level, high-level, oblique, and vertical aerial photography.

  • Low-Level Aerial Photography: Low-level aerial photography is taken from a height of less than 500 feet above the ground. It is typically used to capture detailed shots of buildings, landscapes, and other structures.
  • High-Level Aerial Photography: High-level aerial photography is taken from a height of more than 500 feet above the ground. It is typically used to capture wide-angle shots of large areas, such as cities or landscapes.
  • Oblique Aerial Photography: Oblique aerial photography is taken from an angle, rather than directly above. It is typically used to capture three-dimensional views of landscapes and buildings.
  • Vertical Aerial Photography: Vertical aerial photography is taken directly from above. It is typically used to capture precise measurements of land and structures.

Equipment Needed for Aerial Photography

To get started with aerial photography, you will need some equipment, including a drone, camera, lenses, filters, batteries and chargers, storage devices, and accessories.

  • Drones: Drones are the most important piece of equipment for aerial photography. They come in different sizes and types, from small, lightweight models to larger, more professional models.
  • Cameras: A good camera is essential for capturing high-quality aerial photos. Look for a camera with a high resolution, fast shutter speed, and manual controls.
  • Lenses: Different lenses can be used for aerial photography, depending on the type of shot you want to capture. Wide-angle lenses are great for capturing large landscapes, while telephoto lenses are ideal for capturing detailed shots of buildings and other structures.
  • Filters: Filters can help improve the quality of your aerial photos by reducing glare and reflections, enhancing colors, and increasing contrast.
  • Batteries and Chargers: A drone’s battery life is limited, so it’s important to have extra batteries and a charger to keep your drone powered up and ready to fly.
  • Storage Devices: Aerial photography can generate a lot of data, so it’s important to have enough storage space for your photos and videos. Consider using a high-capacity SD card or an external hard drive.
  • Accessories: Other accessories that can be useful for aerial photography include a remote control, propeller guards, and a carrying case.

Techniques for Aerial Photography

Capturing great aerial photos requires some planning and technique. Here are some tips to help you get the shot you want:

  • Planning the Flight: Before you take off, plan your flight path and determine the altitude and angle you want to shoot from. Make sure to check for any restrictions or hazards in the area.
  • Controlling the Drone: Familiarize yourself with the controls of your drone and practice flying it in an open area before attempting aerial photography.
  • Positioning the Camera: Position the camera at the right angle and adjust the settings to get the shot you want. Use the drone’s stabilization features to keep the camera steady.
  • Settings for Aerial Photography: Adjust the camera settings for aerial photography, including ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. Shoot in RAW format to have more control over editing.

Legal Considerations for Aerial Photography

It’s important to be aware of the legal considerations for aerial photography to avoid breaking any laws or infringing on people’s privacy. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Drone Regulations: Different countries and regions have different regulations regarding drones. Check local regulations before flying your drone.
  • Airspace Restrictions: Certain areas, such as airports and military bases, have airspace restrictions that prohibit drone flights. Check for any restrictions in your area before flying.
  • Privacy Laws: Be mindful of people’s privacy when taking aerial photos. Avoid flying over private property without permission.
  • Insurance: Consider getting insurance to protect yourself in case of any accidents or damages caused by your drone.

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Tips for Capturing Great Aerial Photos

Here are some tips for capturing stunning aerial photos:

  • Shoot During Golden Hour: Golden hour, the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset, provides soft and warm lighting that can enhance your photos.
  • Look for Interesting Patterns and Textures: Aerial photography provides a unique perspective that can reveal interesting patterns and textures.
  • Experiment with Angles and Perspectives: Try different angles and perspectives to capture unique and creative shots.
  • Use Leading Lines: Use natural or man-made lines, such as roads or rivers, to lead the viewer’s eye through the photo.
  • Incorporate People or Objects for Scale: Including people or objects in your aerial photos can help provide a sense of scale and context.

Editing Aerial Photos

Editing your aerial photos can help enhance their quality and bring out their full potential. Here are some tips for editing your aerial photos:

  • Adjusting Exposure: Adjust the exposure to balance the brightness and contrast of the photo.
  • Correcting White Balance: Correct the white balance to adjust the colors of the photo.
  • Enhancing Colors: Use saturation and vibrance adjustments to enhance the colors of the photo.
  • Removing Distractions: Remove any distractions or unwanted elements from the photo using editing tools.
  • Filters: Use filters to enhance the photo, such as polarizing filters to reduce glare and reflections.
  • Cropping and Straightening: Crop the photo to improve composition and straighten the horizon if necessary.
  • Sharpening: Use sharpening tools to improve the sharpness and clarity of the photo.


Aerial photography provides a unique perspective that can reveal stunning views of the world around us. With the right equipment, techniques, and legal considerations, anyone can capture breathtaking aerial photos. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this guide, you can take your aerial photography to the next level and create images that will impress and inspire others.

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