Tips on Flying your Drone in Summer

Tips on Flying your Drone in Summer

Heliguy Insider goes over some tips on how to get the most out or your drone when flying in summer. Advice includes camera settings, flight tips, ND filters and much more.

9 minute read

[caption id="attachment_12716" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Tips on Flying your Drone in Summer[/caption] Summer is the most popular time of year for drone pilots to get with their drone and enjoy the hopefully much-improved weather. You can stay out for longer with summer daylight hours and you’re hopefully less likely to encounter wind and rain, even here in the UK. Like you, we love getting out in the warmer months to enjoy the sun with our drones, however, you need to ensure you’re aware of certain potential issues to get the most out of your drone and have an incident-free flight. Whether you're flying in the UK or abroad, the summer conditions can still influence your flight and care must be taken when flying. Keep reading to see our tips on flying your drone in summer and how to take the best photos and videos in the bright conditions.

Flying in Heat

Flying in extreme heat can have an unexpected effect on your drone. An example of this is; on hotter days, the air will be thinner than usual. In thinner air conditions, the motors on your drone will have to work harder than usual to keep the drone airborne. This extra heat, in addition to the heat from the warmer weather, will result in the motors heating up much faster, decreasing their overall efficiency. The heat will also affect the performance of your batteries. Both extreme heat and cold reduce the batteries capacity and the overall battery life will be shorter than on a day with normal temperature. Due to the above, it’s recommended you reduce your flight time and don’t fly to the full extent of your battery. Additionally, you should monitor the app you’re using to control the drone and keep an eye out for any warnings relating to the drone’s heat. Increase your downtime between flights, taking more frequent and longer breaks to let the drone and its batteries cool down. You should also be vigilant of where you keep your drone. Store in a cool and dry area and never leave you drone or its batteries in a warm car as this may lead to lasting damage. Also, you should avoid cooling down batteries with air-conditioning etc. and allow them to cool naturally. Overheating may also occur with your smartphone or tablet you’re using to control your drone. Device overheating can lead to errors in the video transmission and in extreme cases, the device to crash and lose control of the drone. Be wary of the heat on your device and stop flying if you receive any warnings or suspect it may be too hot.

Images and Video Quality

Shooting in the bright summer months can have a huge effect on your pictures and videos. Knowing how to manipulate your settings and how to choose your shots can help you get the best results.

Choose the Right Camera Settings

Selecting the best ISO, Aperture and shutter speed will allow you to control the drone's camera and find the correct exposure for your work. Although there’s no exact science and each shot will depend on your specific shooting conditions, there are some techniques you can use:
  • If you’re starting out in photography and videography and unsure of how to use the settings, try out the auto settings. These have been designed to help you out and will automatically adapt to the conditions.
  • Try lowering your shutter speed. This will reduce the amount of light that enters the camera’s sensor helping with your exposure level.
  • Increase the aperture to reduce the light that enters the sensor. Aperture is fixed on a lot of the consumer-level drones but will be available on the DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Inspire 2.
  • Reduce the camera’s sensitivity to light by lowering the ISO.
  • If shooting in JPEG only, choose the correct white balance setting to suit the available light.
Keep in mind, you will have to balance these settings which takes some getting used to. You can choose priority modes on the majority of DJI drones which help you with the settings balancing. It’s recommended you take test shots with different settings before beginning your actual flight. You can then choose the shot with the best exposure to base your settings around. [caption id="attachment_12735" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Image from DJI Phantom 4 Pro[/caption]

Bracket your Images

When using your drone for images, it’s recommended you use HDR (High-Dynamic-Range) or AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) available on the majority of DJI’s drones. The AEB setting will automatically take either three or five pictures with varying levels of exposure when you press the shutter button. You can then merge the images in post-production, choosing the most effective part of each image for the best exposure. This option gives you control over the end result, creating an image that suits your style. Below is an example of the separate AEB images:

[huge_it_gallery id="27"]

The HDR option will take three photos from overexposed to underexposed. These images are then automatically merged to give the highest quality images with the correct exposure. This is a useful option for images you want to share instantly. Below is an example of separate HDR images:

[huge_it_gallery id="28"]

You can also manually bracket your photos by adjusting the camera settings in the app.

Histogram

Another tool available to help you check your exposure levels on your photos is Histogram. This tool goes from pure black, which is underexposed, to pure white, which is overexposed, showing where your exposure falls. Ideally, your Histogram should exposure should be in the middle of the chart, showing a balanced exposure to your image. [caption id="attachment_12736" align="aligncenter" width="500"] DJI Phantom 4 Pro with Histogram[/caption]

Exposure Warning

Another tool available on the majority of DJI drones is the Exposure Warning. This highlights any aspect of the image that’s likely to be overexposed once you take a picture, usually a source of light or reflection. This will appear as below, clearly showing where the issue may occur using zebra stripes: [caption id="attachment_12720" align="aligncenter" width="500"] DJI Phantom 4 Pro with Over Exposure Warning[/caption] Test out each of the settings and choose to suit your style.

Want to know more about drones photography settings? Head to our previous Insider post here.


Be Careful of People

As we said in the introduction, the summer months bring out more drone pilots than any others. Pilots are looking to take full advantage of the fairer weather and head out to their local flying spot. In addition to drone pilots, the general public is out in force in the warmer weather, looking for a spot to catch some sun or enjoy a walk. This means you need to be much more careful of where you choose to fly. Once you pick a safe location to fly in, take a spotter with you to keep an eye out for anyone walking around your flight path. If anyone gets near to your flying area, land the drone as soon as it’s safe to do so. A useful tip to help you avoid people is to make the most of the longer hours of sunlight and head out in the morning before it gets busy. This will help you avoid bumping into people and disturbing them. You can also take advantage of the unique lighting to achieve a stunning effect in your pictures. [caption id="attachment_12725" align="aligncenter" width="600"] DJI Phantom 4 Pro in Flight[/caption]

Have the Right Kit

A great way to get the most out of flying in summer is to ensure you have the right type of kit for the job.

Use Filters

A key tool available to help you with your videos and images, especially in bright sunlight is ND (Neutral Density) and PL (Polarising) filters.

ND Filters

ND filters have been dubbed ‘sunglasses for your camera’ as they reduce the amount of light that can enter the camera’s sensor, effectively increasing the aperture. This helps with the exposure of your shots and increases your overall flexibility over your settings. Using ND filters will improve your photos but particularly your video, helping you achieve a more cinematic look.

PL Filters

A PL filter is a useful tool which will help reduce glare in your images and videos, especially around reflective surfaces like water or glass. They help in bright conditions by increasing the vibrancy of your images. PL filters often come as ND/PL filters, featuring both qualities to improve your work. [caption id="attachment_12721" align="aligncenter" width="500"] ND/PL Filter Example[/caption]

If you’re looking for a helpful guide on using an ND filter, head to our previous blog post here or check out our video introduction below.


Monitor Hood

Monitor hoods will help you be able to see the device you’re using to control your drone. They will block out the sun, giving you a clear view of either your smartphone or tablet screen. This allows you to monitor app without any issues of glare etc. Monitor hoods are available across the DJI range to fit phones, tablets and integrated screens. [caption id="attachment_12723" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Hoodman Monitor Hood[/caption]

CrystalSky Monitor

Like the monitor hoods, the CrystalSky monitor will help If you’re struggling to see a tablet when you’re in bright sunshine. The CrystalSky allows you to run the DJI GO 4 or DJI Pilot apps using the super-bright screen to increase your visibility. The CrystalSky Monitors are compatible with the DJI range from Sparks through to the Matrice 200 and 600 Series. They are available in two models; the High Bright and the Ultra Bright editions, in both 5.5” and 7.85”. The High Bright is available in 1000cd/m², two times brighter than the traditional smartphone. The Ultra Bright is 2000cd/m², four times brighter than the average smartphone. Using a CrystalSky is a great way of maintaining your view of your device in all conditions. [caption id="attachment_12722" align="aligncenter" width="600"] DJI CrystalSky[/caption]

Prepare Yourself

Not only do you have to make sure your drone is ready for flying in summer, you should also make sure you’re ready to fly before taking off. Make sure you’re the right temperature before starting your flight. You don’t want to struggle to take your jacket off when you’re already in the air.  This can lead to accidents and is not recommended. Additionally, sunglasses will likely be an absolute must for your flight when flying in bright conditions. They will help you maintain VLOS (Visual Line of Sight), one of the regulations in the UK and many other countries. [caption id="attachment_12724" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Flying the Phantom 4 Pro[/caption]

Summary

Summer is a great time to take your drone out and make the most out of the weather and longer daylight hours. Keep in mind the above advice to ensure your flight is as safe as possible and to help you capture the best photos and videos. Like all drone flights, the key is around preparation and being both vigilant and sensible. Look out for any warning signs and don’t push your drone to its limits. 
To discuss any information from the above post or any DJI or Freefly product, please give one of our team a call on 0191 296 1024 or email us at info@heliguy.com.
Keep checking back to Heliguy’s Insider Blog for more announcements, insights into drones and, of course, the latest news from the drone industry.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Please note, this hidden field is to prevent bot submissions and entering data will result in your comment being discarded without moderation.


Recent heliguy™ Blog Posts