A Few Tips on Mapping Out a Drone Photo Route

A Few Tips on Mapping Out a Drone Photo Route

Planning may be one of the most important things when it comes to taking the aerial photos you want. A lot of the stuff I shoot is mapped out thoroughly so I can plan days and times to go shoot what I have in mind.

Location

Location is super important for me when it comes to shooting with the drone. I always want to make sure a spot is worth it to fly so I constantly search Google Maps for different places. I remember where these places are because I simply pin them and them save them to a list on Google Maps and bam! I can see them on both my computer and phone. How convenient. All I have to do is get in the car, open maps, tap my spot and drive there. This has been huge for me lately because I haven’t been able to go out and shoot as much as I’d like, but by doing this I’m able to travel for a longer period of time and shoot more when I plan things correctly.

Finding a good location is key to getting good photos. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to find a perfect location to create great images but it does help. One tip I have for everyone flying is to arrive at your location early and get a flight in beforehand to scout the location and get a few test shots. I am typically shooting during sunset so I tend to fly before that golden hour to see what I want to capture when the light is where I want it to be.

These few locations had some stuff that looked interesting on to me on Google Maps, so I set out to go shoot them with my expectations of how they would look. I left my house around 9:30 am and got to my first location around 11:00 am. I shot there till about 12:30 and decided to hit a few more spots I had on my list after before returning home.

Weather

Weather is absolutely essential to check. This could make or break the shoot and when you drive a solid distance away only to find out that you can’t fly there, you may be pretty disappointed. Remember, this is 100% your fault because all you had to do was check the weather. In fact, I made the same mistake the other day and I could not fly at any of the locations I went to. The winds were consistently blowing 20+mph and if I did take my drone up, it wasn’t safe to fly it more than 100ft away from me because it was so hard to get it back. Because of that, I didn’t want to risk losing my little drone and I decided to just put it away and surrender to the weather. I was definitely mad, but I learned my lesson and ended up scouting a few of the locations so I could go back and shoot them another time.

If the weather is bad and you know it may be too risky to fly, please don’t chance it. Losing your drone is probably not a fun thing, especially when you know that you didn’t have to be flying in the crazy conditions you were in. Always better safe than sorry in this case, so please use your best judgment before going out to fly.

With a 50% chance of rain and light winds, I knew going into my shoot that I would probably be okay. I checked out the hourly forecast after to make sure I wouldn't get caught up in rain and not be able to fly. After making my two-hour journey to location, I had the cloud cast I was looking for, light winds and no rain. This allowed me to shoot from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm when it suddenly began to drizzle. All in all, a win for the whole trip because it went exactly how I expected it to go.

Selecting a Drone

Owning two drones, you’d think my decision would be easy. Am I flying the Inspire 2, X5S and whatever lens I want, or am I flying my Mavic Pro? The easy answer is, probably my Mavic. I have found this drone to be so portable, convenient, and reliable since I have purchased it. The drone obviously has its flaws here and there but wit's its working, it’s working very well and I love it. The main reason I use this drone is because it has a really good range. Most of the time when I fly, I have to park further away from the location in a spot I can actually park. Having that little bit of extra range is beyond useful when it comes to shooting.

You may be asking, why not just fly the Inspire all the time? That answer is easy as well. It is a lot to set up, draws almost 65% more attention (might actually be a fact) and takes up the entire trunk of my car. This drone is not easy to travel with but boy does it take a picture. When I have a really good idea for any personal work or something I actually wanna go seriously shoot, I will bring this drone and use it to shoot. When I am on the go and want to just grab some photos, the Mavic is always my go to.

Personal Connection

This is probably the hardest one to explain; every time I shoot something for my own personal work, it has to be something that means something to me. I either have an interest in the location, an idea, concept or something I just feel the need to create. Water, railroads, textures, seasons, and so many other things have caught my attention over the years. Being mainly a real estate photographer and videographer, composition has become one of the main things I focus on. Whenever I go out to a location to shoot, I always make sure I nail the composition. Lighting, time of day, colors, look, and all that jazz comes second. Not to mention editing is a process of its own after the shooting is done.

Conclusion

Being able to fly has given me so much more opportunity to shoot and I have fallen in love with it. Though I do a lot of paid work with my drone, I live to create my own work as well. It has become something that drives me. I’ve been flying for almost three years now and I probably love it more now than I do when I first started. Going out to shoot has become more than just driving somewhere and shooting. It has become a process. Not only a process for my aerial work, but for a lot of my other work as well. The more you fly, the more practice you get, the more you create, the better off you are. You’ll find your style and start to create images that mean something to you. Safe flying to everybody out there and I hope this article helps out a bit!

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3 Comments

Scott Stebner's picture

If you’re a commercial operator, it’s also important to note how high the clouds are and to what degree the cloud cover is. I wasnt able to fly last week because low, unbroken clouds were present. Just a suggestion for additions to an article, checking to make sure there aren’t flight restrictions or air space issues. :) happy flying.

I bougt my first drone at https://quirigua.shop they have nice drones for beginers

Maarten Stappaerts's picture

Also a key thing is to check the Kp-index (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K-index), this indicates the disturbance in the earth's magnetic field due to sun activity (geomagnetic storm phenomenon).
Apps like Hover show the current Kp-index at your location.

Not checking this before flight is a recipe for fly-aways, NEVER fly when the KP-index is higher than 4.