Drones have become massively popular in the past two decades or so, and they have been significantly used in leveling up the viewer experience through their ability to capture breathtaking and crystal clear shots from a wide-angle, several hundred meters above the ground. Plus, they are being used for photography and videos in a wide range of media, from documentaries to sports. Therefore, it won’t be wrong to say that they have a significant impact on the film and photography sphere, and some might even go to say that they have revolutionized photography.
But is that true? Has the revolution of drone photography pushed other technologies and devices to the background as it continues to gain popularity and become a mainstream photography method across the world? If you are an avid photographer or like to follow everything that happens in the photography world, you would have come across claims of drones being the ‘next best thing.’
The photography industry has experienced several similar revolutions in the past century or so. Earlier, we relied on photographic film and a darkroom to display the images a long time after they were captured. But when the digital revolution came along, it upheaved everything that was analog and also removed the entire film development process. Similar revolutions were also experienced in videography with the advent of full-frame cameras and then the invention of mirrorless cameras.
This article has been conceived to familiarize our readers with drone photography and how it brings the herald for a new revolution in photography. See how photographers who bought drones to play with are using them to enhance their photography experience.
The Advent of Aerial Photography
Drone photography is part of the field known as aerial photography, which was initiated through the use of helicopters and full-frame cameras that could capture the entire landscape from a great height. Aerial photography and videography have been around for a long time, and you would notice it in several popular films over the decades. Ever since cameras were invented and became mainstream, people have always tried to take photos “from above,” and although the helicopter helped them achieve this, it was an incredibly costly and sometimes dangerous endeavor that wasn’t practical in any sense.
The first record of an aerial photograph is in 1858 by Gaspard-Felix Tournachon, popularly known as “Nadar.” He used this method to capture the French village of Petit-Bicetre from above. He used a camera attached to a balloon, which was fastened with a rope at the height of 80m. This also inspired his later works, such as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris in 1968.
Over the centuries, aerial photography certainly evolved, but there was no way to make it more compact and affordable. It always included the need for complex and costly equipment, as well as sound professional skills and a penchant for adventure. However, the invention of drones and their applications for photography has opened up a wide range of avenues for aerial photography, meeting all of the requirements and challenges that photographers encountered in the past.
How Drones Revolutionized Aerial Photography
Following the methods of cameras tied to balloons and helicopter shots, aerial photography has come a long way and has finally morphed into drone photography, which involves a considerably lightweight, user-friendly, and cost-effective device that helps you achieve what you couldn’t even fathom with a full-frame camera mounted on a helicopter.
We believe that aerial photography isn’t only about going as high as possible, and drones help expand the horizons for photographers as well. Through drones, photographers can get immersed into their subject with absolute clarity and precision. Moreover, it also becomes easier for them to track the rapid movement of their subject without any inconvenience or trouble.
However, they can just as well be used for malicious purposes since drones can be used to keep an eye on or follow a subject without them suspecting. Keeping the strategic and warfare uses of drones aside, they are also being used in other professional applications, including news reporting, journalism, sports photography, tourism, event photography, underwater photography, and much more.
Another notable use of drones in aerial photography has been recorded, particularly during natural disasters, where road or sea links to the affected region have been cut off due to the calamity. In such instances, drones can be used to get a clear picture of the situation, so that help can be sent accordingly.
The rise of drone photography, coupled with the increase in production of low-end and mid-end drones, has also fostered an interesting trend called the ‘drone.’ Basically, it is a selfie taken from high above, with the help of a drone. Many such exciting trends have emerged in the past few years, and we believe that more will follow.
Predictions and Expectations for Drone Video and Photography
We can say with confidence that drone photography and video are here to stay, and nothing will overtake them for a very long time. Whether you are a real estate developer or an Instagram influencer, you can make use of drones to capture breathtaking aerial shots to captivate your target audience. There has also been increased interest among consumers, and companies like Shutterstock have also revealed that there has been a significant increase in searches for the word “drone.” Moreover, drone registrations are touching close to a million every year, which says a lot about the industry.
As drones continue to revolutionize aerial photography, we take a look at some exciting predictions from leading photography experts that can point us in the direction we should look forward to. Not all of these may be in favor of drone photography since they are still considered to be invasive and illegal in several countries.
1. The Control of Drones by Government All Over the World
As we know already, drones are banned in several parts of the world, particularly in areas where military influence and rule are rampant. Due to this, hundreds of thousands of photographers don’t have the opportunity to make the most out of drones and enhance their aerial photography and drone video skills. Although some casual photographers and enthusiasts continue to make use of low-end drones to shoot photos and videos in their backyard, they dare not fly them too high. Otherwise, they might lose them.
In the near future, drone photography will become much more challenging to attempt, mainly because of the rapidly changing laws and regulations all over the world. An example of this is the popular drone maker DJI, which is considered a national security threat by the United States Department of Defense. Apart from this, several other Chinese companies are sanctioned in the country.
Generally, governments from all over the world are noticing the rise in drone usage, which is why they would move to curb it as much as possible. Although there are several restrictions in place, we believe that the existing ones will also be leveled up to further control the use of drones for aerial photography. However, this can be managed in an efficient way if drones are also registered, licensed, and insured like vehicles.
2. Drone Technology and Quality Will Become Better
Although we, and several others like us, are immensely impressed and engrossed in the fascinating features and functions that the drones of today have to offer, we also believe that in the near future, drone manufacturers will be able to optimize their technologies and come up with something that can further enhance the drone photography experience.
Drone photography is rampant in all forms of media, and since its earlier days, the gear and its technology have been innovated upon. In the future, we will get to see even more improvements that would make the equipment more reliable and useful across different applications. Moreover, their quality will also increase, which means that you will be able to capture better drone videos and photos for use in your projects.
Another catalyst that would play a major role in the development of drone technology is artificial intelligence, which is also rapidly evolving. By integrating AI into drone technology, there will be reduced dependence on humans to operate the drone and take pictures, which would enhance the picture quality and overall viewer experience.
3. Drones will be Used in Artistic and Commercial Photography
According to several photographers, drones are much cheaper and more practical than other methods of taking aerial photos, and they also allow you to take photos from angles that were otherwise impossible to capture. In the near future, the use of drones will transcend towards artistic photography, as well as commercial photography and other fields.
This would be achieved due to the improved quality, higher power, and optimized performance that drones will provide in the future. Most importantly, they would be provided and released at affordable and lucrative prices, which would also mean that more and more people will try to explore aerial photography by getting their hands on one. However, the number of drones will also be proportional to the safety regulations and requirements.
4. Drone Photography Sensors Will Match Those of DSLRs in the Future
Another interesting prediction from photography experts is that in the near future, the sensor quality of the drones that we have today will be optimized and innovated, following which they would offer the same quality, clarity, and performance that DSLR cameras offer. Honestly, the sensors used in drones right now definitely need an upgrade.
However, if the sensors match the quality of those used in DSLR cameras, you can also expect the security regulations and limitations to grow stricter with time, because the authorities wouldn’t want you to see everything inside a restricted or private area with impeccable clarity. This imposition and invasiveness is something that governments will be concerned about, and rightly so.
5. Long-Exposure Night Shots Will Become Better
Another prediction that we stand behind is that the development and optimization of drones will facilitate long-exposure night shots, especially those taken with a high ISO. Right now, drones aren’t equipped to deal with low-light photography, particularly when you talk about high exposure. Therefore, there aren’t a lot of great images taken from drones during nighttime.
In the near future, we will not only be able to take stunning night shots with utmost clarity and precision, but we will also get a set of clear and high-resolution images that could be used for a variety of purposes. This would bring about a new revolution in aerial photography and open up new avenues for photographers who have been looking for something like this to be developed.
Sooner than later, the lenses and sensors inside drones will be optimized to allow for long-exposure shots at night with high ISO, and you can expect to see several breathtaking images once this happens. This is one prediction that we are particularly excited about.
6. Drones Will Have Cameras With Different Lenses
Currently, drones are only equipped with cameras that have fixed lenses, meaning that you don’t have the opportunity to tailor the gear and make it suitable for your style of aerial photography. However, experts suggest that this is one thing that will change particularly in the near future, and we will get not only cameras with interchangeable lenses but better cameras overall.
Therefore, you can expect to take clear and high-resolution shots from a great distance in the sky without having to compromise on quality or any other factor. However, seeing as most countries in the world are looking to impose stricter restrictions on drones, we wonder if this technology might only be accessible for amateur photographers.
7. Drones Will Become Smarter and Stronger
Last but not least, many experts have predicted that the drones of the future will be smarter, stronger, and more powerful. This means that they will have AI-powered capabilities, empowering them to navigate their way around the sky on their own, without any human intervention. This would open up a huge avenue of possibilities for different industries. Moreover, drones will also become stronger and more powerful, meaning that they will be able to fly higher and for a longer time without wearing down, thus allowing you to get better shots.
This concludes our article, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for drone photography. Although, at one end, we are anxious to see how governmental regulations and laws will hinder the use of drones for aerial photography, we still continue to be optimistic and look onwards and upwards.