When I first started taking top-down aerial photos, I realized that learning the art didn’t just improve my confidence and all-round ability in photographic omposition; it also provided me with some amazing aerial photos that genuinely intrigued and mesmerized viewers in ways I’d never imagined. When you view a typical aerial photo that looks into the horizon (not top
down), it typically consists of two elements: the land and the sky. This naturally
allows the viewer to mentally decipher the image and make sense of its
perspective. It’s usually after that when they judge the image for its content
or artistic merit. When shooting top down, however, we don’t have that luxury
as we generally have only one element to work with: the land or the sea.
A powerful way to start is to simplify your thinking and take a more
minimalist approach. Keep an eye out for aspects in the landscape
that contain strong geometric shapes when looking top down. An
example of this can be found in farms and plantations, where there
are usually rectangular fields of flowers or crops that have strong
colors and repetitive detail. Once you’ve found this, think about
ways you could compose this within a frame from a top-down
perspective. Here is where you need to challenge yourself to
think outside the square and express these bold elements
in an interesting way.
This feature presents a series of images I have
taken using the top-down technique with my DJI
Phantom 4 drone in fully automatic mode. I
also provide step-by-step guidelines on the
techniques I used to capture and compose
these in an interesting and artistic manner.