Contributed by: Jade Buckley
Since the first modern drone took flight in 1935, drones have been used in everything from remote maintenance to agriculture and even food delivery. However, what truly makes drones popular today are arguably their superior photography and videography capabilities.
In aerial photography, the sky is the limit — literally. Beginners and professionals alike can use drones to take crisp and precise shots from any angle. This can particularly come in handy in natural settings. Drones can go where humans can’t, such as over rough terrain, treetops, and even water.
If you’re planning to get lost in the Ozarks with your drone, you might be wondering how to get the best shots of the region’s pristine natural wonders. Here, we list a few tips you can try.
Use the best drone
When taking aerial shots out in nature, it’s crucial to get a drone that has sensors for hovering and avoiding obstacles. These will keep your drone steady in windy conditions and help it avoid colliding with trees, rocks, and other natural features. More importantly, pick one that offers superior image quality. Drones with CMOS sensors can enlarge each pixel in an image, helping you capture each detail of the Ozarks’ diverse flora with clarity. As an added bonus, choosing a drone with RAW/DNG format support will give you more leeway when editing your photos in post. Check out one of the drones we recommend here.
Equip for success
Even with traditional cameras, additional equipment helps yield better results. Similarly, drone accessories will help you get that perfect shot. Smart controllers and HDMI monitors are a worthy investment if you want more control over your shots. Gimbals can stabilize drone flight even further, while ND filters can add contrast and remove excess glare from raw photos. Finally, the average battery life of a drone is around 20 to 30 minutes. Bringing a spare pack or two can increase your flight time significantly.
Scout locations with satellite images
One challenge you might run into when you actually get to the Ozarks is where to start shooting. After all, this region is vast and covers over 47,000 square miles. Help yourself out beforehand by looking up satellite images on sites like Google Earth. Here, you can scout landscapes with interesting compositions that you think will look good on film. This is a much better option than searching on the ground — or worse, draining your drone’s battery life just to find a good spot.
Play with height
Just because you can fly high, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Try finding suitable shots at a lower height before heading toward your drone’s altitude limit. By bringing the drone closer to the ground, you can focus more on improving the composition of a photo and reducing the clutter or noise of the details that surround your subject. Even landscape shots can be taken from just a few meters off the ground. However, flying high can help you capture lofty natural features like the rugged hills, or find fascinating patterns in the landscape from a bird’s eye view. Just be sure and check local restrictions before you fly. The Buffalo National River is a national park, so drone use is prohibited. Flying here can result in a hefty fine from the National Park Service and the FAA.
Tweak camera settings
Drone photography is a fun and rewarding experience, so take your time to play with various camera settings like aperture, shutter speed, and bracketing. A faster shutter speed can compensate for instability caused by strong winds, and slower shutter speeds allow for interesting creative effects. Meanwhile, taking 5 bracketed exposures of each subject can help you get the best pick of photos despite the ever-changing lighting you’ll encounter in natural settings. You can even shoot multiple photos consecutively with Burst Mode, which you can stack together in post to create a sharper final image.
These are just some of the tips you can use to get started with your drone in the Ozarks. If you’re curious about what else you can do with cameras of all sorts, check out our photography tip archives.