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How to do Long Exposure Drone Shots At Night

Posted by Action Gear on

Written by Wouter Du Toit

I’ve recently gone out to shoot some shot’s at night and wanted to see if I can get my Phantom to keep as still as possible while shooting cars passing by. I’ve always liked these shots, it gives it an energy of light streaks, but also of people getting around, in motion.



What I’ve learnt on my first night out is that you basically need three things to do get reasonably good shots that you’ll most certainly enjoy.

FIRST UP, YOU NEED A WIND-STILL NIGHT.

It’s not going to work if you’ve got the drone battling it out to maintain it’s gps coordinates. It will give you a drag on the moving lights and you’ll get an out of focus shot. So make sure it’s literally dead-still outside.

SECONDLY, YOU NEED TO DEACTIVATE THE FRONT RED LIGHTS OF THE DRONE.

The red light can add extra colour to the shot, and is mostly unwanted. Here are the steps to do this:

1. You do this by turning on the remote and the drone, going into the DJI Go App until you’re in camera mode.



2. When you can see what your camera sees, you’ll find a button at the top-right of your screen. It has a three-line list menu button.


3. When the menu shows up, on the left you can choose the ‘drone’ menu, top-left



4. You’ll now have a menu containing Advanced Settings. Go into that and turn off ‘Turn on arm’s LED light. The red light should be off now.

AND THIRDLY, YOU NEED TO SETUP THE CAMERA FROM AUTOMATIC TO MANUAL, AND INCREASE THE EXPOSURE TIME SO YOU CAN GET THE LIGHT STREAKS.

Here are the steps to do this:
1. On the right of your screen you choose the Camera Settings button.

2. And you toggle the camera from Auto to Manual.

3. You can then set shutter speed. The numbers are seconds. So you can keep your shutter open for up to 8 seconds. You can also set a higher ISO, but this opens up to the risk of noise in your shot.



Although you can go up to 8 seconds which is more than enough time, I suggest 4 or 5 seconds does the job pretty well and you have less chance of a breeze causing a shake leaving you with a blur. I left the ISO on 100.

Finally, if you don’t have a license and you want to take these type of shots in SA it’s important to know that you’re not allowed to fly within 50m of people, cars or streets. Getting the license is the correct way to do it. If you would like to get your drone licence contact sales@actiongear.co.za


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