The artwork of a drone selfie

In general, I’ve always viewed selfies as harmless fun. However, the idea that people are obsessed with making their own self-portraits felt a bit narcissistic. Because of this, I’ve always stopped myself from taking pictures of myself, and in a million years I would never have imagined writing an article about selfies – and yet this one alone. So if you’re wondering what inspired this article, it came from a moment I was flipping through a web link with some of the most powerful drone images in the world. Some pictures were exhibited there that led me to explore this street. A common theme of these images was that they weren’t just top-down aerial photos taken with a drone. they also managed to include the photographer in the picture.

After looking a little closer at these images, I found that the key element to this dynamic was the way the photographers had worked their way into the frame. This also gave the picture an immense sense of intrigue.

I finally decided to take my DJI Mavic Pro to some places that I thought had great potential for drone selfies. All recordings shown here were made with the Mavic in auto mode. It has also been fitted with a PolarPro circular polarizing filter to reduce strong reflections and highlights.

Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
f2.2-1 / 150s – ISO 100
With this lake and wharf, I wanted to capture a bold and contemporary composition, so I raised the drone to around 80 to 90 feet. This allowed me to fill in the frame, with about a third of its surface area being taken up by the wharf, but this did create a nice visual balance.
I also decided to stand in this picture to create a focus. The late afternoon sunset made for beautiful lights and shadows that helped break up the bold composition through finer details.

Northern Beaches, New South Wales, Australia
f2.2-1 / 25s – ISO 255
The chance to include an abstract and somewhat bold composition here only required me to raise the drone to a height of about 30 feet. By keeping the drone relatively close to the ground, I could keep out parts of the scene that I didn’t want to include. I framed it to capture two sides of water and enough concrete slab to show the numbers that would help the viewer identify the subject. The numbers also play a role in providing secondary focal points.

Benefits of Involving Yourself
When it comes to composition, it not only helps to give the viewer a sense of scalability and dimension. It also creates more POIs and adds substance to images that normally only consist of sparse geometric masses. Another benefit is that it can act as the main focal point or allow you to tell a story through a picture.

The five best selfie drone tips

• Explore your location. Use maps to pinpoint your location before you emigrate.
• Look for contrasting colors and textures. Combine interesting colors and textures in the landscape to generate interest.
• Look for focal points. Look for places in the landscape where you can position yourself and other people.
• Start low. Keep the drone low and gradually increase its altitude.
• Take pictures at multiple heights. Take lots of photos and choose the best ones later.

Northern Beaches, New South Wales, Australia
f2.2-1 / 50s – ISO 190
To get a sleek and contemporary composition here, I flew the drone to a height of around 30 meters and positioned the horizontal axis of the concrete base a little off-center and more towards the top of the frame. I also brought the drone to this certain altitude so that I can capture all the hues in the sea water below. Laying down was the preferred option because it makes it easier for the viewer to identify me. Capturing the swimmers who are about to jump into the water also helps create an interesting secondary focus.

Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
f2.2-1 / 13s – ISO 547
Here you can see the training networks of my junior sports cricket days. So far, during my training days 30 years ago, I only saw this from the ground. I took the drone up to a height of 30 to 45 feet and decided to explore the place from the air, mainly because of the interesting layers it contained. I also kept the drone at this low altitude to reveal the interesting textures of the steel mesh fence, concrete slab, dirt and grass on the sides.
I positioned the drone so that the stumps were visible on the far right. Making the stumps visible not only enabled a secondary focus, but also helped the viewer identify the scene as a cricket training ground.

Western Sydney,
New South Wales, Australia
f2.2-1 / 370s – ISO 100
This scene gave me the opportunity to capture the geometric, stark white lines in a unique way on a lush green soccer field. Picking up the drone at an altitude of about 150 feet was ideal to adequately capture the radial and rectilinear geometry of the chalked sidelines.
I also limited the drone to this height so that my presence in the overall scene wasn’t too small and watered down. Rotating the drone so that the two soccer fields were approximately 45 degrees from the horizontal frame also added a much greater sense of movement.

When and how to lock yourself in

Given that most top-down aerial photos are initially abstract, it makes perfect sense to add a focus as well. Remember, you don’t need just one focus. If you do decide to shoot in a style similar to mine, try to strategically look for additional areas of focus where people could be included.

It’s easy to find a place to be in a composition. You just need to find the primary focus to add yourself in. When you find that, think about how you want to position yourself (e.g., whether you want to sit, stand, or lie down). Lying on the floor gives the viewer an unusual perspective that dramatically expands the subject’s sense of scale.

Start flying the drone on the lowest level, then slowly move up. Always check your picture display and carefully observe how increasing the height will affect your composition.

Don’t be obsessed with getting too much height as it can ruin the selfie-style image you are trying to create a little. For safety reasons, I usually shoot at three different heights and then choose the most appropriate composition when editing my RAW files to JPEGs

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