Tips for Capturing Amazing Exposures in Aerial Photography

Aerial photography allows us to capture breathtaking views from above, providing a unique perspective of the world. However, capturing amazing exposures in aerial photography requires careful consideration of equipment, composition techniques, and lighting. In this article, we will explore some valuable tips to help you take your aerial photography to the next level.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose a camera and lens combination that suits your needs and budget.
  • Use filters to enhance your shots and add creative effects.
  • Master composition techniques such as the rule of thirds, leading lines, and incorporating foreground and background elements.
  • Take advantage of the golden hour and blue hour for beautiful lighting conditions.
  • Learn how to balance exposure in high contrast scenes and use exposure compensation to achieve the desired results.

Choosing the Right Equipment

Selecting the Ideal Camera

When choosing the ideal camera for aerial photography, there are several factors to consider. One important aspect to look at is the camera’s sensor size, as this can greatly impact the image quality and level of detail captured. Another key consideration is the camera’s resolution, which determines the number of pixels in the final image. Additionally, it’s essential to choose a camera with a fast and accurate autofocus system to ensure sharp and clear images. Lastly, considering the camera’s weight and size is crucial for aerial photography, as it needs to be lightweight and compact for easy maneuverability.

Picking the Right Lens

When it comes to aerial photography, selecting the right lens is crucial. The lens you choose will determine the perspective, depth of field, and overall quality of your images. It’s important to consider factors such as focal length, aperture, and image stabilization. A wide-angle lens is often preferred for capturing expansive landscapes, while a telephoto lens can help you zoom in on distant subjects. Additionally, using a lens with a wide aperture can allow for more creative control over the depth of field. Experimenting with different lenses will help you find the perfect one for your aerial photography needs.

Using Filters for Enhanced Shots

Using filters can greatly enhance the quality of your aerial photographs. One important aspect to consider is capturing wildlife. When photographing wildlife from the air, it is crucial to maintain a safe distance to avoid disturbing the animals. This ensures that you can capture natural and undisturbed behavior. Additionally, using a polarizing filter can help reduce glare and enhance the colors of the landscape, making your wildlife shots even more vibrant and captivating.

Mastering Composition Techniques

Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a fundamental principle in photography composition. It involves dividing the frame into nine equal parts using two horizontal and two vertical lines. By placing key elements along these lines or at their intersections, you can create a more balanced and visually appealing composition. Subtle emphasis on the rule of thirds can greatly enhance the overall impact of your aerial photographs.

Leading Lines

Leading lines are a powerful compositional tool in aerial photography. They can guide the viewer’s eye through the image, creating a sense of depth and movement. By strategically placing objects or elements in the frame, you can create dynamic compositions that draw the viewer in. Whether it’s a road, a river, or a row of trees, leading lines can add a sense of direction and visual interest to your photos. Experiment with different angles and perspectives to find the most compelling leading lines in your aerial shots.

Foreground and Background Elements

When capturing aerial photographs, it is important to consider the foreground and background elements in your composition. These elements can add depth and interest to your images, creating a more dynamic and visually appealing shot. By carefully selecting and positioning these elements, you can create a sense of scale and context in your photographs. Adjusting exposure is also crucial in capturing the details and colors of both the foreground and background elements. It allows you to balance the exposure and ensure that all elements are properly exposed. By adjusting the exposure, you can bring out the details in the shadows and highlights, creating a well-balanced and captivating image.

Understanding Lighting and Exposure

Golden Hour and Blue Hour

The golden hour and blue hour are two crucial periods in aerial photography. During the golden hour, which occurs shortly after sunrise or before sunset, the lighting is warm and soft, creating a beautiful and ethereal atmosphere. This is an ideal time to capture stunning aerial shots with a magical quality. The blue hour, on the other hand, happens before sunrise or after sunset when the sky takes on a deep blue hue. This period offers a unique opportunity to create dramatic and moody images. Mastering the use of lighting during these hours can greatly enhance the overall impact of your aerial photographs.

Balancing Exposure in High Contrast Scenes

When photographing in high contrast scenes, such as a bright sky and dark foreground, it can be challenging to capture the details in both areas. One technique to balance the exposure is to make exposure adjustments. By adjusting the exposure settings, you can ensure that both the highlights and shadows are properly exposed. This will help to prevent overexposed or underexposed areas in your aerial photographs.

Using Exposure Compensation

Exposure compensation is a powerful tool in aerial photography that allows you to adjust the exposure settings to achieve the desired brightness or darkness in your images. It is particularly useful in challenging lighting situations, such as when shooting during the daytime or in high contrast scenes. By using exposure compensation, you can effectively capture the details and colors of the landscape, even in difficult lighting conditions. Whether you are shooting landscapes, cityscapes, or nighttime photography, understanding how to use exposure compensation will greatly enhance your aerial photography skills.


In conclusion, capturing amazing exposures in aerial photography requires a combination of the right equipment, mastering composition techniques, and understanding lighting and exposure. Choosing the right equipment is essential, including selecting the ideal camera, picking the right lens, and using filters for enhanced shots. Mastering composition techniques such as the rule of thirds, leading lines, and foreground and background elements can greatly enhance the visual impact of your aerial photographs. Additionally, understanding lighting and exposure is crucial, including taking advantage of the golden hour and blue hour, balancing exposure in high contrast scenes, and using exposure compensation. By incorporating these tips into your aerial photography, you can capture stunning and breathtaking images that will leave viewers in awe.

Frequently Asked Questions

What camera settings should I use for aerial photography?

The ideal camera settings for aerial photography may vary depending on the specific conditions and desired outcome. However, it is generally recommended to use a fast shutter speed to freeze motion, a smaller aperture for increased depth of field, and a low ISO to minimize noise.

How do I choose the right lens for aerial photography?

When choosing a lens for aerial photography, consider the focal length and the desired field of view. Wide-angle lenses are commonly used to capture expansive landscapes, while zoom lenses offer versatility for capturing both wide-angle and close-up shots.

Are filters necessary for aerial photography?

Filters can be beneficial in aerial photography to enhance the quality of the shots. Polarizing filters can reduce glare and enhance color saturation, while neutral density filters can help achieve longer exposures and smooth out motion.

How can I improve the composition of my aerial photos?

To improve the composition of your aerial photos, consider using the rule of thirds to create a balanced and visually appealing image. Incorporating leading lines can guide the viewer’s eye and add depth, while including foreground and background elements can provide context and scale.

What is the golden hour and blue hour in aerial photography?

The golden hour refers to the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset when the lighting is soft, warm, and ideal for capturing stunning aerial photos. The blue hour is the time before sunrise or after sunset when the sky takes on a deep blue hue, creating a unique and atmospheric lighting effect.

How can I balance exposure in high contrast scenes?

In high contrast scenes, it can be challenging to capture details in both the bright and dark areas. One technique is to use exposure bracketing, taking multiple shots at different exposures and blending them together in post-processing. Alternatively, using graduated neutral density filters can help balance the exposure between the sky and the landscape.