How to Take Stunning Long Exposure Photos with your Drone

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What’s up guys Billy here and today we’re going to be talking about photography, mainly long exposure photos. Usually we talk about taking videos with our drones on this channel, but I’ve started messing around with some photography and I have to say that taking long exposure photos with my drone may be one of my new favorite things. With that being said I figured I would do a little tutorial for you guys to help you achieve some of the best looking long exposure photos.

Before we begin I briefly want to cover the conversation of flying at night. Taking long exposure photos is of course done when its dark out,with plenty of lights around which means that you will be flying during night time. If you are flying under the Part 107 without a waiver from the FAA you can get in trouble – but because I have not taken the exam and I’m still considered a hobbyist pilot it is okay to do this. With that being said please refrain from any comments having to do with flying at night, this video is simply to educate drone pilots looking to take long exposure photos. Now lets get into the video.

First off lets just talk about what long exposure photography is. To best explain it I’ll put an example up on the screen. It turned out a little bit blurry because of the high winds, but for one of my first times out I do think that it ended up turning out pretty good. With this style of photography the stationary lights in our lights in our picture will stand still while those that are in motion will create streaks across the image, leaving us with this cool effect.

To achieve a picture that looks like this we want to move our ISO value down as low as it can go, which is usually a value of 100 on — drones. So to make the picture brighter we want to increase our shutter speed. Now if you’re using a Phantom 4 pro set the Aperture rate in the middle at 5.6 to get the sharpest quality possible. If you’re kind of lost due to the photography terminology I was using, let me go over some of the words and acronyms real quickly just for reference.

First we have ISO – this is the cameras sensitivity to light. A lower value will give you a darker image, while a higher value will make the image brighter.

Next we have Aperture which is a hole inside of the lens which allows light into the camera. A lower value will give you a brighter image, while a higher value yields a darker image.

Finally we have Shutter speed which is the length of time the shutter of the camera is open to expose light into the sensor. These are measured in units of time, therefore the longer the shutter is open the brighter it will turn out.

Now just to repeat what I was saying earlier, first we want to set the ISO to a value of 100 making the image as dark as possible. This will allow us to increase the time that the shutter is open, usually a shutter speed of 5-8 seconds is perfect as it will drag those lights such as boats and cars a good amount. As far as Phantom 4 Pro owners are concerned who have the option to set Aperture, use a value of 5.6 to achieve the sharpest quality possible. One other setting that we want to change is turn off front LED’s. This turns off the front red LED’s for a brief moment while the drone snaps the picture ensuring any red tint coming from the lights won’t ruin your shot.

Another thing that is worth mentioning is to make sure your camera is focused to get a crisp image. So guys there we have it, taking long exposure pictures is fairly easy but you just need to know the settings in order to get some of the best looking shots. Hopefully this video helped you guys out in that department. One more thing that I do want to say is taking multiple shots is key, during this flight I took about 15 different pictures using different angles and different shutter speed values, giving me room to choose the best picture when I sit down on my computer. If you need tips for flying at night Click here.