Chris Gorman gives his top tips for taking stunning snaps with a drone.

Drone photography has taken off in the past two years.

London's Canary Wharf. Photo / Chris Gorman/Big Ladder
London's Canary Wharf. Photo / Chris Gorman/Big Ladder

Better quality cameras and far more compact drones mean you can take one on any trip or hike. The DJI Mavic series of drone (which I use), folds down to the size of a bag of sugar and carries a 20 mega-pixel camera. That's better than most mobile-phone cameras.

Drone aerial view of Arundel Castle on the South Downs in West Sussex. Photo / Chris Gorman/Big Ladder
Drone aerial view of Arundel Castle on the South Downs in West Sussex. Photo / Chris Gorman/Big Ladder

But before you set off on that dream trip — with visions of epic aerial images to make your friends on social media envious — here are a few tips for ensuring you get those images safely in the bag.

Advertisement
The Old Citadel, St Malo. Photo / Chris Gorman/Big Ladder
The Old Citadel, St Malo. Photo / Chris Gorman/Big Ladder

● Check air traffic in the area you intend to fly. The rule in New Zealand is that you must stay at least 4km away from any airport. My own advice is to go to a location and sit for 10-20 minutes to see whether the area has any unexpected air traffic. No matter where you are in the world planes and helicopters can suddenly appear, so be aware.
You should read up on all the Civil Aviation Authority's rules at airshare.co.nz/rules.
● Always fly away from people, the general rule is 50m and certainly don't fly over large groups of people.
● The best images aren't always from the greatest height, many of my images have been with little elevation, the height of a house for instance. The beauty of a drone is that it can go where you can't — over water or simply the height of a tree, for instance.

Drone aerial view of Boats at Emsworth Harbour in West Sussex. Photo /Chris Gorman
Drone aerial view of Boats at Emsworth Harbour in West Sussex. Photo /Chris Gorman

● Look out for patterns in roads. Use the camera to look directly down and you can find surprising images. Buildings have incredible shapes that only the architect knows about . . . until you come along with your drone.

Lulworth Cove, Dorset. Photo / Chris Gorman/Big Ladder
Lulworth Cove, Dorset. Photo / Chris Gorman/Big Ladder

● Weather is all important — all my best images have come from keeping a sharp eye on the elements. You can get wonderful lighting around sunset and sunrise — it pays to know when and exactly where they will happen at your chosen destination. Fog is always a winner.

Fireworks at Leeds Castle. Photo / Chris Gorman/Big Ladder
Fireworks at Leeds Castle. Photo / Chris Gorman/Big Ladder

● Learn how to use image-editing software and do it on a computer rather than your phone. I use Photoshop but there are cheaper alternatives that do pretty much the same job. If you have to use your phone have a look at Snapseed. This is my phone app of choice if I have to go down that route.

Deesides , Scotland. Photo / Chris Gorman/Big Ladder
Deesides , Scotland. Photo / Chris Gorman/Big Ladder

● Choose locations that have great colours or great skies. Use long exposures to blur movement on the ground. Many drone cameras have fabulous image stabilisation and can cope with exposures of up to two seconds.
● Have fun!

Beachy Head, East Sussex. Photo / Chris Gorman/Big Ladder
Beachy Head, East Sussex. Photo / Chris Gorman/Big Ladder

Chris Gorman, of bigladder.co.uk, has been shortlisted in both the Landscape Photographer of the Year awards and British Photography Awards for Drone Photographer of the Year.