Ten Tips To Help Improve Your Drone Photography

One of the coolest purchases that I have made for my photography is my drone. It really allowed me to see things in a new way. Sometimes you need a change in perspective to jump start you for a while. The drone certainly did that. Below I have listed ten quick tips to help you get off the ground with your drone. They are things that I found useful early on, and I still use today.

10. Stay safe and obey the laws – While drones are fun they are also potentially dangerous. Your first instinct may be to take your drone out and fly it without thinking about where you are. The first tip is to first stop and look at where you are flying. Can you even fly your drone there? I have come across places that I thought were in the middle of nowhere that actually are very near a small airport that I didn’t even know about. The laws are in place for a reason so make sure you know what they are, and obey them. The first bad drone crash will be the last one as they will probably all be banned.

9. Prepare your drone pre and post flight – This tip kind of goes hand in hand with the tip above. I put them at the top because I feel that they are the most important. Before flying somewhere new make sure that you props are in good shape and secure. Another important tip is to calibrate your drone. Not getting a proper calibration in can result in a flyaway or a crash. Before you have even left your house make sure that your batteries are all fully charged, and if possible you have a few backup batteries for the drone. One battery can give you a long flight, but multiple batteries can mean a fun day of flying. One quick post flight tip is that I always swap cards out. I take out the card that I used to make my images, and I immediately place a new card in the drone. This prevents you from getting out a ways with your drone and then realizing that you have forgotten a card. It also prevents the same scenario without having one on you. I have done both and it is not a fun feeling.

The Sun Sets Over the Purdue Bell Tower

8. Shoot in RAW – I always shoot in RAW, but with the drone I feel that it is even more important. The megapixels of your drone vary from model to model, but they are not fantastic in any model. You want the most data that you can get for your images in post. Shooting in RAW makes that happen.

7. Think of all of your post-processing tools while in flight – You have a lot of tools at your disposal in the digital darkroom now. Early on in my flying days I was not using everything available to me. One way to increase the quality of your image is to get a little closer to your subject and make a panoramic. With the steady nature of the DJI crafts it is very easy to do. A slightly more advanced move is to make what I call a vertirama. This is where you stitch a photo made from vertical pans. Combining these two styles can make for an interesting photo. Continue reading “10 Tips For Better Drone Photos”


A Few Of The Barns Of Parke County

When I am in Parke County, Indiana the focus is obviously on the covered bridges. The county is full of them, and they are fun to find and photograph. Along the way though there are also many nice barns to photograph. Like any series of barn photos this one has a few different kinds in it. I am a sucker for the old red barn. Nothing will make me slam on the brakes like an old barn on the side of the road.

Barns In The Wild

When I am driving I am pretty much at the mercy of the conditions when out looking for subjects to photograph. If there is something really amazing I may wait around for the good light, but when out bridge hunting I pretty much take what I can get. It would be nice to visit these barns again in some great early morning or late evening light. Here the cow is in the shadow. In a way that fact makes it a nice hidden feature of the photo.

More Barns Than Normal

I don’t know if it was the route that I took that day or just the sheer amount of barns in Parke County, but I was not getting very far without stopping that day. The barn above was right next to a steel bridge making it one stop with many photos to make. Next time I am out in Parke County I need to take a different route to see what else I can find. Maybe I was just on the route with the most barns.

Barns Ready For Harvest

This was a trip that I made in mid April, but some of the barns had harvest equipment in front of them. Barns like the last two in this post had older farm implements in front of them making them a little more interesting to me. Do you stop to look at or photograph barns on the road? Am I the only one?

A Great View of the Bridgeton Covered Bridge

While visiting the Bridgeton mill and covered bridge I made a few photos all around the scene. I really wanted to work the scene. You never know what you will find when you are open to anything. I made one horizontal image at this window that was in another post here. I used HDR to have both the inside and outside look just as they did to me that day. Here for this photo I was happy with just having a little light spill onto the frame. Just enough light comes in to show you that you are indeed looking through a window. What a cool view this is.

Keeping Fresh With Side Projects

This year I have made many trips to Indiana State. The two hour drive can get boring at times. I started leaving a little early to find something interesting to photograph on the way to see the Sycamores. The covered bridges of Parke County are not too far away, and they provided a great way to make something out of the trip as well. I would have a blog post for whatever I was covering that day, and then another post or two based on what I saw on the way down. When I am posting everyday it is important to keep the content coming.

The Bridgeton Mill and Covered Bridge

It is not a short trip to Indiana State for me. I have regularly made the two hour drive for a while now. The route that I normally take is pretty boring as it is on major roads. When I have a little extra time I like to take a different route to see something interesting. One stop that looked cool on paper was the Bridgeton mill and covered bridge. I had the idea of photographing both of these interesting structures and it would give me two separate blog posts. When you post a photo a day you need to have some photos in reserve for a rainy day. As I started editing these photos I quickly realized that you could not show one without the other. They are intertwined. I picked this site for a spring visit because I thought that they would be interesting at any time. I would like to re-visit the site during all of the seasons as it is a great one to see.

From the Mill Looking to the Bridge

One of the unexpected things of the day was the way I would see the bridge from the mill. The mill was not supposed to be open the day that I visited it. Even if it had been open the hours have a definite start time until tired. There is no real guarantee that you can visit the mill. I loved this view out of the window looking to the bridge. You get a look at this amazing bridge with a little sample of the mill.

From the Bridge to the Mill

After making the above photo I knew that I wanted to do the exact opposite. I wanted to look back at the mill through the bridge. This is something that in my early days I would not have done. I would have made the photo at the top of the post and moved on to the next subject. Part of the fun of photography though is working a scene to find the unexpected photo. A little extra time here made it a memorable trip. Continue reading “The Bridgeton Mill and Covered Bridge”

The Keeper of the Bridgeton Mill

Lately when I have been heading to Indiana State I pick one spot to stop at to make a couple of photos along the way. The covered bridges of Parke County are an easy target, but most of them I think I would want to photograph in the fall. Bridgeton was one bridge that I think would photograph well any time of year. I would love to get it in the fall and winter as well, but there are views of it and the mill that don’t need any help to make a good photo. My first stop after I parked was the old mill. The two gentlemen inside were super nice giving me some insight into the mill, and one near me in Lafayette. I had been to the Lafayette mill before, but this was a good reminder to go back. I have many photos from that trip to share with you, but for now I wanted to share this one that I really liked.

A Gift From the Photography Gods

This photo was an absolute gift. I went into the mill to see what it was all about, and to see if it had a view of the covered bridge. While talking to the father and son who run the mill I couldn’t stop checking out the light on the father. It was Joel Grimes rim light if I had set it up myself. Add the flags in the foreground and the rustic elements around the photo, and I had something really special here. As he was putting the flour labels on his bags I snapped off a couple of frames. Moments like this are why I love to travel. You have a few photos in mind along the way, but the unexpected ones really floor you. You have a situation right in front of you, and all that you have to do is to push the shutter button. In the past I would have tried to use HDR to see the bridge outside the window. I have a series to do that with, but this first frame that I made with this in mind was the right choice.

More From Bridgeton

This was a successful trip to Indiana State. I made a few photos that I liked from the game which was the primary goal of the day. Along the way there I made some photos of a couple of covered bridges along with the town of Bridgeton. With the busy weekend coming up I would guess that my posts with those photos will trickle out over the next couple of weeks. All of the photos will be in the photos of the week Exposure page that will come out sometime Sunday night. I had a great time making the photos, and I can’t wait to share some of the behind the scenes stories with you.

An Unexpected Find In Eugene

I have been to Eugene, Indiana a couple of times now. The first couple of times I just photographed the covered bridge and then I turned around to head back on my way. This time I saw some interesting buildings on the mural of the restaurant by the bridge. I knew that they buildings on the mural were in the town so I went a little deeper into the town to see what the other points of interest were about. The first thing that you see is a beautiful home. It looks so out of place in that town. I drove by it knowing that I would see it on my way back. To me the highlight of the town is the  Methodist Church. It is a beautiful old church.

More To See in Eugene

I really had some fun in a limited time in Eugene. Right across from the church is what appears to be an old school building. It looks to have been repurposed now, but it still has the look of an old school building. I would never have guessed what was down the road based on what is around the bridge. The mural that pointed me into the town was a great thing. Below are a couple of bonus photos from the town that I liked.

The Week in Photos

What a week it was! I was able to get back out and photograph baseball again. It was a good feeling, and one that I hope that I can do many more times this year. Indiana State even celebrated my first game of the year with a walk off winner. Saturday morning I also was able to photograph my first football action of 2017. It was only practice, but it was fun to be back on the gridiron. I love to photograph baseball, and for some reason I have been labeled a baseball photographer, but football is the sport that I am closest to. I can’t wait to get some more under my belt this year. I also shot my first softball of 2017 this past week. The games above were part of four games in two days that I shot. The first photos at Purdue were purely for my benefit, but they were still fun games to cover. It was also fun to get to see my first Sycamore softball games ever. I scouted out the field before the baseball game Tuesday, but shot there for the first time Saturday. You can see my favorite photos from the past week on my¬†Exposure page here.

The Eugene Covered Bridge in Eugene, Indiana

I have been to the this bridge a couple of times now. Both times I have been there the scenery has not been great around it. This is just off the road on my way to Indiana State so it is an easy visit. I may just have to come back again when the trees around it look a little better. These old bridges look very much like the old barns that I like to photograph so much so it only makes sense that I would find a few of them. I have a couple of more bridges on the list for the future. When I lived in Iowa I visited a few of the Bridges of Madison County. Now I have a new set of bridges to find and see what I can do with.

Finding New Ways For a Familiar Trip

Driving to Indiana State is something that I have been doing a lot of lately. I have decided that on days with no time crunch that I would find something to visit on the way to campus. I have already seen a couple of covered bridges and an old mill doing this. It is a good way to photograph something other than the game, and give me a chance to be a little creative on the way. So far this has been fairly easy to do, but soon I may start running out of easy ideas. That will be when the fun really starts.

The Week in Photos

I have put together another collection of my favorite photos from last week on my Exposure site here. This year I have tried to get out more to photograph things away from the sports arena. I think that my weekly look back at my photos has been a little better with that in mind. More side trips like the one the other day allow me to be a little more creative, and to give the blog some fresher content.

Visiting the Mansfield Covered Bridge

On my way south to Indiana State to cover their senior night I saw a sign for a covered bridge and an old mill. What photographer would not pull off the road for that? I made a shot of the mill with my quadcopter that you can find here, and then I went about exploring the bridge a little. With all of the signage and other nonsense out in front of both entrances to the bridge it did not really work as a photo for me. I want to see a covered bridge looking like it was just a bridge. This one looked like a place to hang signs from that would also let you cross the stream below. I also made a few shots of it from the side with my quadcopter, but being the dead of winter I was not too thrilled with those either. I decided to cross the bridge to see what was on the other side, and that is when I noticed the shot above. As I was packing up to leave from my quadcopter shoot this gentleman showed up to fish. As I was crossing the bridge I saw a scene that looked like it belonged on a wall. It was then that I had the idea to frame the photo that way. I wanted to show just the right amount of the inside of the bridge, but also have the scene outside the bridge be large enough to see clearly. It was something that came to me at the time, and I really like how it turned out.

The Week In Photos

I have been promoting my weekly look back at my photos a lot this week, and that is because I really like some of the photos in there. You can find that post here. This was a fun week for me, and I enjoyed putting the post together. This week is kind of a wild card. It could be an epic week, or it could fall flat. By the time that this post will be live most of that equation will already have been answered. As I sit here typing this I hope that things are already going great, and I have had an amazing week so far.

The Mansfield Roller Mill and Big Raccoon Creek

Yesterday I made a road trip to Indiana State a bit longer taking a new route. The ultimate goal at the end of the trip was to see the wildlife at Goose Pond, but I found some cool things along the way. This old mill in Mansfield, Indiana was one of them. I have heard of the large covered bridges festival, but I have never attended. To me I would want to see the bridges with minimal people around them for my purposes. This was my first trip there, and I realized that I should make a tour of these bridges someday when the conditions are better. I love this scene that is above, and I knew that it would make a good photo. I walked down to the water’s edge to use my dSLR, but I couldn’t get the angle that I wanted. I went back to the car to get the quadcopter to get the view that I needed.

Using the DJI Phantom 4 Pro To Make the Photo

To get this photo I had to take off and almost immediately duck under some power lines. Getting under the lines should be easy, but they really messed with my quadcopter as I went under them. The interference is something to keep in mind. By using the quadcopter I was able to get out over the water to make my photo. This thing really has come in handy even if it was only out for a shot time. I could have spent a lot of time there flying it, but I had to keep moving.

More Photos From the Day

I made a lot of photos yesterday. I had a productive car ride down to Goose Pond, and I really got lucky there as I was pulling away to see a large flock of snow geese. After all of that I finally made it to Indiana State to photograph their senior night. I will have plenty of time to write up those posts as I will be on a long bus ride today with the ISU track team headed to the MVC Championships. If you want a sneak peak at my basketball shots from last night you can see them on my Exposure page here.