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Aerial photography is a tough skill to master as it is, but including wildlife into the mix is just one next step. We have come up with a list of the most important tips for photographing wildlife with a drone, from the basics of aerial shooting to specific tricks about capturing the best shots of wildlife in their natural habitat.
From finding the best drone to discovering trying different modes, we've got you covered with ten of the best tips for wildlife aerial photography.
Find the best drone for aerial photography.
When first getting started with drone photography, you of course have to find the ultimate gear to capture the best shots. As one of the most important tips for photographing wildlife with a drone, we suggest giving the DJI Mavic Pro a shot, a drone for beginners or veterans alike.
A small yet powerful drone, or "camera in the sky," the DJI Mavic Pro is the perfect tool for aerial photography. Though small in size, it has an impressive maximum speed of 70 miles per house and can withstand even the strongest winds.
The world is your canvas with a product like this. And with its compact size, you won't have to worry about extensive storage and easy travel. With a 4K camera stabilized with a three-axis mechanical gimbal, five vision sensors, all-new transmission system with a 4.3mi (7km) range, and 24 computing cores, this little drone has got it all.
And best of all, it won't break the bank like most other drones on the market.
Be aware of the laws and regulations of drone use.
We have to mention the need to be constantly aware of the laws and regulations that come with flying a drone. And before we get into the specifics with our best tips for photographing wildlife with a drone, we have to go over the rules that you need to follow, in order to be safe.
These regulations are provided in order to not only stay safe, but to provide privacy. Going over these specifics is the first step to capturing your best shots. You can find this information at knowbeforeyoufly.org.
Fly your drone even if you think it's not a great day for it.
Another basic tip, but one that will open up a lot of doors for your wildlife photography: make it a point to fly your drone even on the days you wouldn't think to break it out. Of course, we're not saying that you should fly your drone into the cloud of a thunderstorm, but on days that you wouldn't typically try and capture photography, reconsider the opportunity.
And even better, consider the places you would never fly; you never know what you will capture, especially when it comes to wildlife. Though it might not be within your comfort zone, push it.
Consider your processing while you fly.
Instead of leaving all the hard work to do after you have completed your flight shoot, consider how you will process your photographs while you are capturing.
As one of the best tips for photographing wildlife with a drone, a great photographer, no matter the process they choose to create their photographs, will consider every aspect of the process, no matter the stage they are in.
So while you are sending the drone up in the air, you should also be creating a post-processing method for your end result.
Be aware of the weather forcast.
Like we touched on earlier, of course, do not try to capture your best photographs while the weather could damage your gear.
So as one of the first steps you should take when considering when and where to shoot, check the weather forecast, not only for your gear, but for the knowledge of when and where the wildlife will be out. And with the rules and regulation of flying drones, there are also weather events that will ban you from flying.
Use Google Maps to find new locations.
One of the simplest tips for photographing wildlife with a drone is to take advantage of Google Maps! Using the satellite mode, you can view an arial shot of anywhere you wish to see in the world.
Just put in the address and look around. Using this app, or simply bringing it up on your laptop, will allow you to view potential shoot locations with your drone. A realistic look at the location, you will also be able to discover more rural areas that will be great spots to shoot wildlife.
Try ATTI mode.
On your DJI Mavic Pro, you should try out the ATTI mode. The ATTI mode stands for the Altitude mode, which means that your drone will hover in a steady and vertical position, perfect for easy capturing without ripples or blurring.
However, your Mavi Pro will drift with the wind a bit, but nothing detrimental. It will maintain your specific altitude and allow you to capture wildlife with ease. This is definitely a mode any drone photographer is going to want to take advantage of.
Consider your lighting.
Just like you will consider your weather, you should also consider the lighting as one of the best tips for photographing wildlife with a drone. This has a lot to do with the time of day as well as the cloudiness during the time that you choose to shoot. Like any type of photography, lighting has everything to do with the quality of your end results.
Effectively being able to capture your desired result will rely on the way you work with lighting. Relying on nature's providing may be frustrating, but like any photography, you must have patience. We suggest shooting during the early evening, around two to four in the afternoon, to achieve the best light.
Be cautious when approaching an animal.
Now, getting more into the specifics of capturing wildlife, you want to be extremely cautious when approaching your desired subject. Like you would if you were to physically approach an animal, you want to slowly direct your drone to get closer to the animal; this will take a lot of patience and practice, so don't get discouraged.
The end results will be breathtaking, and well worth the caution. Rather than getting excited while discovering a great shot, give them some time to get used to the noise of the drone. Thankfully, with the DJI Mavic Pro, it is a small and compact drone with little sound, so your choice of a drone is certainly important when shooting wildlife.
Practice makes perfect.
Last but not least on our list of the best tips for photographing wildlife with a drone is that practice is the most important action to take when perfecting your craft, especially for photography, which is so demanding of the subject; drone photography is something that requires a ton of practice from the jump.
With patience, time, dedication, and practice, you will find the ultimate shot of wildlife that you so desperately desired.