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Drones make possible a whole new field of photography. A drone can be positioned to provide views that were previously unattainable, such as over water or above cliffs. However, all users must be aware of, and observe, the legal restrictions which have rightly been put in place to protect property, aircraft and people (see the link below).

Drone photography has become very affordable and practical in recent years. You might feel that a flying photography platform is bound to be complicated, expensive and difficult to master, but his is no longer true. As with most photography equipment, there are a huge range of drones available - from relatively cheap amateur or hobbyist items up to sophisticated, expensive and much larger professional equipment.

Bridge from drone

Flying a drone is not difficult. Modern designs incorporate intelligent features such as automated return to base and safe landing when battery power is almost exhaused. The controller has two joysticks which are moved to direct the drone to cascend, descend, move left, right, forward or backi, or rotate in either direction. If all controls are released and allowed to return to their neutral positions, the drone hovers in its existing position awaiting further commands. The flight can be monitored by watching the drone directly, or by observing its progress via a screen displaying the view from the drone's camera. However, the drone must be kept in line of sight.

Drones are generally equipped with small video cameras which record excellent 4K video. Still photography remains something of an afterthought. The cameras usually have fixed aperture, fixed focus wide-angle lenses, which does imply some limitations. However, everything photographed will be far away so there is no need for a lot of depth of field. Shutter speed and ISO can be set manually, but in many cases it may prove easier to set the camera to automatic exposure mode. Bracketing exposures is, as always, good practice.

Drones must be flown below a specified height - usually about 400 feet - although this may vary with country and location. However, most drone photography is better undertaken at lower altitudes - typically 50 feet to 150 feet. It is usually beneficial to look down on a subject to some extent to avoid including the whirling rotor blades in photographs. As the camera is angled up, so the chance of seeing the rotor blades increases.

A final consideration relates to the availability of spare, fully-charged batteries. Each battery has a limited flying time before recharging is necessary, so having at least one or two spares immediately available is clearly sensible.

In the UK, the legal restrictions regarding the flying of drones may be found here.

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