Drone Portrait Photography Guide: How to Take and Edit Portrait Photos with Your Drone

Challenges are there to be overcome, and drones are far from immune. Probably the most testy of them is that most drones are incapable of taking portrait photos – they can only capture images in landscape format. But it’s not the end of the world as our drone portrait photography guide will show you an easy way around the problem.

Even among the best drones, there are only three consumer drones ever made that can rotate the camera 90° in portrait (vertical) format; the original DJI Mavic Pro (opens in a new tab)the DJI Mavic Mini 3 Pro and the Autel EVO Lite (opens in a new tab) the last two models being currently available. So there is a good chance that your drone will only be able to take pictures in landscape format.

With this common limitation, the only way to capture portrait/vertical images is to take vertical panoramas consisting of three to five landscape images. It’s best to capture them raw, process them in Lightroom, then merge them in Photoshop to create a vertical photo of a scene. The whole process is easy to navigate, and with this guide, you’ll be confidently creating this type of image in no time.

Step by step of shooting a vertical panorama with a drone

Shooting vertical panoramas can be done in less than 20 seconds once you’ve taken multiple shots this way. You simply compose your shots, starting from the top or bottom of the scene, and take a frame before only rotating the gimbal so that the current shot overlaps half of the previous one to ensure even blending when shooting. ‘editing. The most important aspect of shooting is to balance the exposure between the darker ground and the brighter sky, so shooting with the sun behind the drone makes things much easier.

1. Fly into position

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Check a smartphone app such as Drone Assist to make sure it’s safe and legal to fly in your chosen location and that there are no obstructions on the ground such as pylons that could present a risk. Remember that it is important to know the drone regulations in your area. Fly the drone into position and leave it hovering while you adjust the angle of the gimbal vertically to ensure that the drone’s point of view will allow you to capture the scene vertically.

2. Take the first image

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Set the camera to single shot mode and make sure file capture is set to Raw. Set ISO to 100, and if your drone has an adjustable aperture, set it between f/2.8 and f/5.6, then set your shutter speed using the histogram as a guide. If you have a fixed aperture drone, just adjust the shutter speed. Aim the gimbal down the stage and take the first of three to five shots. Need inspiration? Then check out our ‘Where can I fly my drone?’ article for some location ideas.

3. Complete the vertical panorama

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Move the gimbal up slightly and make sure the next shot contains the top half of the previous shot. As you rotate the gimbal up, set the shutter speed to match the exposure for each shot. Take the next photo and repeat until you have all the required images. Some scenes may only require three shots, while others will require four or five to capture the entire vertical scene.

Step by step to edit a vertical panorama taken with a drone

The great thing about shooting vertical panoramas is that you end up with much more detailed, higher resolution images than what your drone is capable of capturing natively. Not to mention that social media platforms often favor portrait format images over landscape. The editing process is simple and requires Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, which are the most commonly used photo editing software options.

1. Import and process

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Import your images into Lightroom and process the first image of the set of three to five shots. For these images, contrast was added using the tone curve, whites and blacks adjusted, and texture and clarity increased to emphasize detail. Depending on the scene, you may also need to adjust shadows and highlights. After the first image is processed, hold down the Shift key and click on the last image.

2. Synchronize settings and refine

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Press the Sync button and when the dialog opens, click Check All and then Synchronize to apply the settings of the first image to all the others so that the processing matches. Exposure may vary slightly from image to image, so go through each image and adjust exposure if necessary to match exposure. Once satisfied, select all the images by clicking on the first one, hold down the Shift key and click on the last one.

3. Export, Merge and Crop

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In Photoshop, go to File > Automate > Photomerge and leave the layout set to automatic. Set Use to Folder and locate your images folder before clicking OK. Once the panorama is stitched together, use the Crop tool to crop the empty space around the image, then use Save As to save the new image.

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