Join Jim Heid for an in-depth discussion in this video Tips for shooting aerial panoramas, part of DJI Mavic Pro: Tips, Tricks, & Techniques.
- A drone gives you a panoramic view of the world, and one of the things I love to do is shoot panoramas with it. Sometimes a full 360 degrees, but mostly just part of a scene, anywhere from three to six or seven shots. Shooting an aerial panorama involves taking multiple photos and rotating the drone between each one, making sure to leave about 30% overlap between each photo. When you get back to the ground, use Lightroom, Photoshop or other software to stitch those images into a single, seamless panorama that you can print, share online or add to a video project.
I've shot a lot of aerial panoramas with my Mavic Pro and with my Phantom 4. And the key to getting good results is to use the same exposure setting for each image in the panorama. If you don't, if the images have wildly different exposure settings, your resulting panorama will probably have noticeable differences in brightness, especially where the images meet. Here's another area where manual exposure is your best friend. Before you take the first shot, look around with the drone, that is, yaw it left and right, and identify the brightest area of the scene you want to shoot.
Next, put your drone's camera into manual mode, as we saw in the previous video, and set your exposure to capture that brightest area. Now work your way across the scene, snap a frame, yaw the drone, making sure you've got plenty of overlap, and then snap another. Repeat this process until you have photographed the scene. Then when you're back on the ground, use Lightroom, or your software of choice, to stitch them together. You'll find a lot of details on shooting and stitching panoramas in other courses here in our library. Here are a couple of tips specific to the Mavic Pro.
First, consider shooting your panoramas with the camera in portrait orientation. This is a unique talent of the Mavic Pro. The DJI Phantom drones can't do this. The design of the Mavic's gimbal allows it to rotate 90 degrees, so that it's capturing images in vertical orientation. That orientation will allow your panorama to capture a taller, vertical field of view. In other words, you'll be able to see more of the scene. Here's an example. I shot these two panoramas from the same location and the same altitude, but rotated the camera to portrait orientation for the one on the bottom.
And notice that you can see a lot more of the ground and the sky. That's that wider vertical field of view that you can get by shooting in portrait orientation. The easiest way to switch the drone to portrait orientation is with the remote controller. Push the 5D button up. You can also get there through the camera settings option, but the button is easier when you're in flight. After you're in portrait orientation, shoot the panorama as I just described, lots of overlap between each shot, and manual exposure so you have the same exposure for each shot.
Portrait orientation is great for shooting panoramas, but it's also good for single photographs, and it's ideal for shots that you plan to post on a mobile-oriented site like Instagram. It has some limitations for video, though. Not only is video typically watched in horizontal orientation, but the Mavic's gimbal doesn't stabilize as well in portrait orientation. If you're flying in windy weather, or in sport mode, or you're doing a lot of hard breaking, the gimbal could reach its limit and start to vibrate, which won't do your video any favors. Finally, back to panoramas.
It's worth mentioning that they make great prints. Before we started this shoot, my amazing wife surprised me with this mounted print. It came from a company called Art Mill. It's going to go over a doorway in our house, and it will be a great reminder of how fun it is to shoot with these things.
- Safety checks
- App settings
- Startup, takeoff, and landing
- In-flight data displays
- DJI GO tips
- Flight modes
- Streaming live
- Adjusting focus
- Exposure and white balance
- Still photography and panoramas
- Shutter speed
- Aerial video
- Using the gimbal
- Using the remote controller