My name is Oren Schauble, and I’ve got the aerial photography bug. It’s hard not to, working next to Colin Guinn and the creative team at 3DR — but I have it for real, to a point of obsession. Over the last year I’ve interrogated professionals and coworkers, devoured everything I can find on the internet and watched the quality of my aerial photos come a long way. I had to go to so many different sources for this information that I wanted to share all I’ve learned in one place, a single resource for aerial photographers, new and old.
This, then, is the first of a regular series where I interview 3DR staff, power users and creators alike about their processes and their tricks, compile some inspiration and provide tips for better aerial shots.
We’ll start the series with an interview with 3DR creative team member and long-time drone user Craig Coker, touching on panoramas, stitching, flying tips and more!
When you’re shooting to create a Panorama, what GoPro® settings do you use?
GoPro’s highest photo quality (12mp)
Single shot mode
Protune — ON
White Balance — Depends on conditions. Generally set to 5500K/Day and 3300K/Night
Spot Meter — OFF
Color — FLAT
ISO — 200
Sharpness — Medium
EV — 0
How do you space your pano photos for proper framing?
Pre-meditation and visualization is key before taking to the air. Try to calculate how many photos it will take for you to complete your pano. Once in the air you can start from either right to left or vice versa. Take all photos in a row and never random order so they’re easier to work with in post.
What software do you use for stitching panoramas?
I get optimal results with Adobe Photoshop. They have great auto-stitching software as well some really useful advanced options.
Any tips or tricks on getting a great stitch?
Flatten your GoPro image first to get rid of distortion. You may also need to crop your photos. Actually, I highly recommend cropping if you’re going to use auto-stitching in Adobe Photoshop.
What other post-processing do you do when you’ve finished the stitch?
I use Adobe Lightroom to color grade and flatten my images. Lightroom has some great GoPro presets
for getting rid of distortion.
Let’s talk about downward facing panos. One of my favorite shots of yours is a straight downward stitch of a dock in California.
Downward-facing photos are some of my favorite aerial perspectives! And I’m assuming that here you’re talking about the pier with the waves? The post work on that one was a dual effort. Once I captured the shots our photo editor Jered Garrison did most of the stitching. The way I wanted the panorama completed it needed some advanced stitching and photo merging. Auto-stitching wasn’t possible with this pano because I wanted certain attributes merged in, like waves, which weren’t in the other photos. Shadows and lighting were inconsistent and needed advanced work as well.
Also, I get a lot of inspiration from the photos that @dailyoverview posts on Instagram.
How do you compose the different photos when planning to stitch a downward-facing set of shots?
First, a GoPro can’t lockout exposure. This is usually key to stitching panos. If your light changes from shot to shot you’ll have inconsistent data, making stitching difficult. To avoid this debacle try to shoot your pano during a time where light stays at a consistent value. Also be quick about getting all your shots.
Any tips or tricks for stitching downward versus aerial?
You’re going to take a similar approach either way. No matter what, you gotta be quick moving from shot to shot so that if your pano has any moving attributes — like clouds, sunsets or people — they’ll stay in one place, which will make stitching easier.