Shooting the Perfect Cityscape

As part of our new partnership with Getty Images, DroneBase pilots have the opportunity to sell their drone videos on one of the world’s largest media marketplaces.

Many of our pilots have already had their work accepted. They can now look forward to a no-hassle passive income and huge exposure for their skills behind the controls.

Our Getty partnership has been live for a few weeks now, so it’s the ideal time to take stock and offer some dos and don’ts in case you want to take your drone out and put footage forward for consideration.

First up, there are a few things you should avoid doing when shooting cityscapes for DroneBase.

Avoid breaking the law

The last thing our pilots should be doing is flying irresponsibly. It goes without saying that you should abide by all FAA regulations and obtain your Part 107 license before flying with DroneBase.

There are a few things to bear in mind when shooting in cities. The first is that no matter how good the views are, flying at night isn’t allowed. Often the light is best for cityscapes just before sunrise or just after sunset. You can fly at civil twilight (defined by the FAA as 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset) as long as you have “appropriate anti-collision lighting”. The standard lights on a DJI drone should be fine.

The next know is that flights above crowds of people or anyone not involved in the operation are also restricted. This is important to bear in mind when capturing cityscapes, as it’s likely that people will be in the area or nearby.

There are also FAA regulations regarding altitude. The maximum height for drone flights is 400 feet above ground level. If you’re within 400 feet of a structure, then the altitude limit is raised to 400 feet above that structure. You also have to keep your drone within your line of sight at all times.

You can apply to the FAA for a waiver from any of the above flight restrictions here, which might be worth doing if you have a specific shot in mind.

Capturing the perfect cityscape

To shoot the perfect cityscape for Getty Images, it’s important to think about who’s going to be buying the end result.

The main reason that media buyers head over to Getty is to find ‘establishing shots’. These are big, sweeping video statements that set a scene and show sights from a wider perspective.

Have this in mind when sending up your drone. And think about ways to make your footage as cinematic as possible. Check out our example videos for more inspiration. Some of the clips include interesting structures in the foreground to highlight a city in a unique way. Several combine city skylines with water to stunning effect.

Keep it steady

From a more technical point of view, the important thing is to ensure that your footage is as smooth and steady as possible. Anything with a noticeable amount of camera wobble is unlikely to be appealing to media buyers. Think about the wind and the weather conditions before you take to the skies and plan to shoot on a day that’s clear.

There are plenty of useful apps to help you keep track of local no-fly zones and conditions, such as Hover. We’ve listed a few of them here.

Feeling inspired to shoot a local cityscape and put it forward for consideration on Getty Images? Sign up to be a DroneBase pilot today and take the first step toward turning your hobby into a career.

Malek Murison

Malek Murison is a freelance tech journalist working closely with clients in the drone industry.

2 thoughts on “Shooting the Perfect Cityscape

  1. Great info, thanks. As for civil twilight, however, the DJI lights are not even close to adequate. The minimum requirement is that they are visible from 3 miles and the red/green leds on the DJIs are barely visible from a few hundred feet. There are, however, many inexpensive, high-powered and light strobe LEDs that can be wired into your drone and/or run off a 9volt and meet the requirements.

    Like

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