Getting a fresh perspective on things is always good. This idea could be applied in almost everything in life but let’s save that for a more inspirational topic and stick with photography and videography, for now. Today, many hobbyists and professionals alike have already transitioned to using a quadcopter or a drone to achieve shots from a totally new perspective.
Although for some, drone flying is uncharted territory. I started out this very way and remember being overwhelmed seeing the flight interface of the DJI app for the first time. With that, this article aims to address common concerns and questions of first-time flyers. We’ll make an example of DJI’s drones since they’re the most popular and they currently dominate the market share for drones.
Whether the drone is yours or if a friend lets you try one, your maiden flight could make you feel like driving a car for the first time. You get anxious and all the flight information staring right at you doesn’t make things easier, either. But keep a clear head and don’t panic.
Most commercial drones today are loaded with tech and features that make them easy to use. Case in point, most are now equipped with GPS that allows it to hover in one place even without you doing anything. Previously, you’d have to balance the drone all by yourself as soon as it takes off and it required real patience, skills, and a few crashes before you could successfully maneuver it to your will.
Where to look—drone or display?
For those still unfamiliar, drones are controlled using a remote controller with an attached tablet or smartphone to run the app and see what the drone’s camera sees. So, should you fix your eyes at the drone or monitor the information shown on the controller’s display?
A good rule of thumb is to just rely on your controller/display and occasionally glance at your drone just to make sure it’s not about to hit any electrical wires or trees while you fly. You can also ask a friend to be a “spotter” so they can keep an eye on your quadcopter while you maneuver and capture your desired shots.
For beginners, try to always keep your drone within eyesight. This is also one of the most common rules of deploying a commercial drone (for both amateurs and experienced enthusiasts) in different parts of the world where flying is permitted.
Right environment for flying?
Choosing the right environment for flying the first time is key to lessen the chance of ruining your expensive drone. It’s a no-brainer to go to a wide, open area with no obstacles so you wouldn’t have to always keep a lookout for your drone.
That’s just one thing, though. Strong gusts of wind would come into play while flying. It would consume more battery from your drone, too, so make sure the weather is nice and calm. Something to keep in mind: mornings are normally less windy.
Another thing is staying away from cellular towers or anything metal. Cell sites and metal constructions interfere with the drone’s radio signal and could result to unresponsive controls or worse, lost of connection from your remote controller.
If you feel like that’s a lot to think about, it also helps to make a checklist to tick off right before you fly. It should become a part of your pre-flight preparation and will come as second nature in the long run.
Controllers for different brands differ but they have the same controls for uplift and downfall, yaw, pitch, and roll. Let’s first define them in the simplest terms—uplift and downfall is what makes the drone go up and down. Meanwhile, yaw, pitch, and roll basically command the drone to rotate left and right, go forward and backward, and sideways from left to right, respectively.
These drones also carry an array of flight modes out of the box. Think of them as presets that command your ‘copter to perform certain movements. From hovering beside you as you go biking to making waypoints for it follow on its own, beginners can take advantage of these modes to familiarize themselves as to what the drone can do. From there, you can experiment with different movements on your own.
Think of it as a video game
If I were to sum up the experience every time I fly a drone, it would be like playing video games. The controls are similar—you have two joysticks and a couple of similarly-placed buttons and you can think of your subject as the objective that you have to follow or fly side-by-side with, for example. This way, not only does it end up easier, it also makes things even more fun.
And at the end of the day after capturing beautiful shots, I think what matters most is that you enjoy flying your drone.