Drone Top Tips

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Top Tips on how to use your drone to take fantastic photos of your boat!


Jonathan Bagge, Landau UK’s very own resident drone pilot, has a love of the sea and an enthusiasm for all water sports. His passion for being on the water has given him the opportunity to develop his flying skills, on a range of drone machines, over water from the deck of a moving boat. Read Jonathan’s information and top tips for using a drone to take aerial photography & footage of your boat:

Recommended drone

If you haven’t already bought a drone and are interested in this field, in my opinion there is no better than the Mavic Pro from DJI.

  • Collapses down small, with easy stowage on board, unlike some of the larger fixed drones
  • One of the longest run times on the market at approx 27 minutes
  • Large enough to handle reasonable wind speed unlike some of the smaller palm drones
  • Use your iPhone or Android device for the screen (linked to the controller) so no need for an iPad
  • 4K on filming and 12 mega pixels for stills
  • Inbuilt GPS, so will hover when you let go of the sticks even in a reasonable blow. If it’s getting too windy it will tell you to lower your altitude and fly with caution
  • Many different flight aids such as:
    • Active track (Where the drone will track you and pan around you)
    • Follow me (Simple following function without panning)
    • Course run (Where you plot a course with the drone and tell it what angle to pan, so you can have multiple different views of your vessel and all on auto pilot)


Set-up tips

  • Practise, practise, practise first! Flying at sea is more difficult than on land as it’s a constantly moving environment.  It is amazing fun and you get some incredible photos & footage, but you will enjoy it a lot more with the confidence that comes from practising
  • Ensure the max distance isn’t set
  • Ensure RTH (Return to Home) is set to controller as home port (instead of the take off point), or on some drones just turn off RTH. You don’t want it landing in the middle of the sea!
  • Depending on how rough the sea conditions are when you are trying to land, it may be worth turning off Landing Protection if your drone has this option. If the boat is pitching and yawing these sensors will not let you land. I would recommend practising on land first
  • The tracking modes can be a great tool for tracking at sea and making the process of panning around the vessel whilst moving easy
  • Involve a friend also. You should really have someone to drive the boat (obviously) and also a spotter for the drone. It’s always helpful for someone to have the drone in sight which leaves you to fly it by the screen
  • Online guides for safe practise of drone flying are important to read! ie you shouldn’t fly near people; 50m is the minimum distance recommended by most
  • Insurance, to cover you as a pilot and also your drone machine if you crash it, is highly recommended!


Taking the photos or footage

  • Use the rule of thirds on screen. Try and get the boat into a third of the screen with water or land in the rest
  • Turning shots are really effective also. Let the drone hover and drive the boat in towards the drone and carry out a banked turn. If you going to take stills, photographing the boat 1/3’s of the way round the turn is optimal
  • Place the drone out of the forward corner of the boat and video or photograph from here. The height is up to you. The lower it is, the more dramatic however the more proficient you will have to be as a pilot. This can give a good action shot showing the water spray well and your boat cutting through the waves.
  • The best travelling shots for yachts are taken off the aft corner to windward and the forward corner to leeward; this will show the spinnaker in all its glory. Height can be quite effective in these shots also for race shots showing the whole fleet)
  • Be sure to use the pan function on the camera also. Shots from vertically above the vessel look great especially at speed as you get a real sense of action from the spray coming off the bow, or in a yacht’s case how far she’s leant over!
  • Vertical shots are also really effective in marinas when the yachts are moored. You get a great sense of depth by looking down the masts from above
  • Side shots can make the image very two dimensional. Always try to get the drone at an angle to the vessel as noted above from fwd or aft corners
  • Following shots from the stern with the boat straight ahead can be great for leading photographs. Dynamic images have lines from the bottom of the image to lead the eye into the photograph (in this case the wake from the vessel). A photo of a vessel at speed dead central to the shot speeding off into the distance can be really energetic. Optimal conditions with blue sky meeting the flat blue sea on the horizon are preferred for the most vibrant image
  • Vertical take-off footage is also very effective. If your vessel has a large foredeck with no ropes or cables to foul the drone, set the camera to vertical then take off at max speed whilst filming. Take the drone up to 60m and stop the video. This stitched to a hi-speed passing piece can make a real fast paced, small edit.


If you want your boat to be in tip top condition for your drone footage then speak to Landau UK about how we can help you prepare your boat.

From repairs and refits through to full refurbishments, Landau UK have the skills, facilities and more than 20 years of experience.

Contact us today

01489 577 588


Visit us at the Southampton Boat Show Stand E039B; we’ll be happy to chat through your requirements!


Thank you all very much for your excellent service
D Medcraft