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Long Exposure Photography with Drones: Unveiling Hidden Beauty

by Anshika Malik 20 Jan 2024


In the ever-evolving realm of photography, enthusiasts and professionals alike are constantly seeking innovative ways to push the boundaries of creativity. Long exposure photography with drones has emerged as a captivating technique that unveils hidden beauty in landscapes, cityscapes, and beyond. In this article, we'll delve into the art of long exposure photography using drones, exploring the unique perspectives and breathtaking results it can achieve.

1.Understanding Long Exposure Photography

Long exposure photography involves capturing images with a prolonged shutter speed, allowing more light to reach the camera sensor. This technique is widely recognized for its ability to produce stunning effects, such as silky smooth waterfalls, streaking car lights, and dreamy cloud movements. Traditionally executed with a tripod on the ground, long exposure photography has now taken to the skies with the advent of drone technology.

2.Elevating Perspectives with Drones

Drones, equipped with high-quality cameras and advanced stabilisation systems, provide a unique advantage for photographers. They open up new perspectives and angles that were once impossible to achieve. When it comes to long exposure photography, drones enable photographers to capture ethereal scenes from above, adding an entirely new dimension to their artistic vision.

3.The Technical Side of Long Exposure with Drones

a. Stability is Key: Drones with advanced stabilisation systems are crucial for successful long exposure shots. Look for models equipped with three-axis gimbals to ensure your camera remains steady during extended exposure times.

b. Manual Controls: Opt for a drone that allows manual control over settings like shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. This flexibility is essential for tailoring your shots to the specific lighting conditions and creative vision.

c. Neutral Density (ND) Filters: ND filters are indispensable for controlling the amount of light entering the camera. They enable longer exposure times without overexposing the image. Experiment with different ND filter strengths to achieve the desired effect.

4. Finding Hidden Beauty

a. Coastlines and Seascapes:

Drones excel at capturing the dynamic beauty of coastlines and seascapes. Use long exposure to transform crashing waves into a serene, mist-like landscape. The softening effect on the water can unveil hidden details and create a mesmerizing atmosphere.

b. City Lights and Skylines:

Urban landscapes come alive at night, and drones equipped with long exposure capabilities can capture the dazzling city lights in a unique way. The streaks of light from cars and the vibrant glow of city skylines create an otherworldly aesthetic that unveils hidden beauty within the urban chaos.

c. Waterfalls and Rivers:

Long exposure photography with drones is particularly effective when capturing the movement of water. Waterfalls, rivers, and streams take on a surreal appearance, with the flowing water transformed into a silky, smooth texture. This technique reveals hidden intricacies in the water's flow, creating a sense of timelessness.

d. Cloud Movements:

Take your drone to the skies during the day, and capture the mesmerising movements of clouds. Long exposure shots of drifting clouds can add drama and depth to your photographs. Experiment with different angles to unveil the hidden beauty of the ever-changing sky.

5.Tips for Successful Long Exposure Drone Photography

a. Timing is Everything: Plan your drone flights during the golden hours—sunrise and sunset—to capture soft, warm light. These times not only enhance the overall mood of your photographs but also provide the ideal conditions for long exposure shots.

b. Experiment with Compositions: Drones offer unparalleled flexibility when it comes to composition. Experiment with different angles, heights, and perspectives to find the most captivating compositions for your long exposure shots.

c. Master Your Drone's Settings: Understanding your drone's settings is crucial for achieving optimal results. Take the time to familiarise yourself with the manual controls, and practice adjusting settings on the fly to adapt to changing conditions.

d. Combine Still and Dynamic Elements: Introduce elements of stillness, such as static structures or landscapes, alongside dynamic elements like flowing water or moving clouds. This juxtaposition adds depth and visual interest to your long exposure photographs.


Long exposure photography with drones is a game-changer for photographers seeking to unveil hidden beauty in the world around them. The unique perspectives offered by drones, coupled with the mesmerising effects of long exposure, open up a realm of creative possibilities. Whether capturing the tranquillity of coastlines, the vibrancy of city lights, or the timeless flow of water, this technique allows photographers to transcend traditional boundaries and create truly breathtaking images. Embrace the synergy of technology and artistry, and elevate your photography to new heights as you reveal the hidden beauty that surrounds us.

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