Cool Drone, but it’s still a camera!

Flying a drone is super fun but at the end of the day, if I can’t get decent photography and videos the excitement of owning a drone ends with the landing.

Photography is King

It’s important to remember, we are in the photography business, not the drone business. The drone gets the camera into the air. Once the camera is hanging in the heavens, we must know how to frame the shot, expose the shot and gracefully move the camera from one scene to the next is we are shooting video. While I knew all that, learning to control the camera and gimbal on a drone 196 feet in the air is quite a challenge.

I am using the DJI Mini 3. It’s my first drone. In this post, I want to focus on just one aspect of managing the camera on a drone. Let’s talk about the Gimbal operation.

The Gimbal is the device that connects the camera to the drone and allows the camera to piviot up and down and side to side. Most drones use the “yaw” function to turn the drone itself from side to side so there is no real need to turn the camera since the drone turns on the Y (vertical) axis anyway. So, at the very basic level, we are talking about using two conrolls on our remote control box, the up and down control of the gimbal and the yaw control on the left stick.

A super basic shot I want to master, without automation, is the one where the drone rises off the deck while the camera keeps a subject in center frame even as the drone climbs. This is going to take some practice!

Here are a couple of my first attempts at this, the camera is pretty jerky. As the drone ascendes or decends, it is really hard to keep things in center frame. I am completely confident that over time, I will get the touch and feel of the controls and the process will become second nature. I want to practice until I get this down and I don’t want to dive into the automated settings to make this happen. I want to learn my drone. I want to learn this skill. Once I have this mastered, I will turn my attention to orbiting a location or target while keeping things in frame and centered.

Orbiting a target is a bit more difficult. I need to fly sideways while keeping an exact amount a yaw in check. In this manuver, I will not need to hadle the camera very much at all. Obviously, there will be a pretty difficult transition from an ascent to an orbit but this too will be a skill set I can build.

I will post later on what I have learned and any tips or tricks I glean along the way. How about you? Have you mastred these two camera moves? Tell us about your experience and how you learned it.






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