Follow drones are all the rage, but there are only a few that actually execute the flight well, and even fewer users who actually have put in the time to use this mode to its full potential. Here we’ll discuss our favorite strategies for using the unique properties of Follow to capture aerial photography.
Disclaimer: Always remember the first rule of Follow (and a great first rule of any drone usage): Be aware of your surroundings! Set your heights, styles and navigation to account for anything you may run into, and continue to think about it as your flight continues.
Burst for action sports
The biggest challenge to capturing action sports photography is that the instant of the perfect photo is often a split second, and sometimes it can pass faster than you can press the shutter button. With Follow, you have the opportunity to not leave that capture to chance. Set your camera on burst or interval as quickly as you can, and just let it roll. You may have a lot of pictures to dig through, but you have a higher chance of the right shot.
Interval for long rides
We call it “fire and forget.” Using a whole battery on your Follow journey in a vehicle going through a landscape? Set an interval photo for every few seconds and accumulate different shots on scenery.
Not every Follow shot has to be far and distant with the subject slightly in view. Try Follow from only 10–20 ft from a subject and you’ll get some awesome results.
Get wide and crop
Remember, especially if you’re shooting for social and web, 12mp wide gives you some room to play with on Follow. If you’re worried about rapid motion or scenery and want to make sure you can frame properly, keep the drone far back and crop in post.
There are multiple options in Follow mode on most drones, including following behind, in front, to either side, etc. On Solo, you also have the option to Orbit while you follow, circling the subject while the camera stays trained on it. Use all these options! Try the different angles and let the drone do the movement for you. It doesn’t all have to be from behind.
Look at Me
Think of this feature as a tripod in the sky, with the tripod head swiveling the camera to follow you wherever you go. Just pop Solo up in the air, put it into Follow, enter your Follow options (marked “…” on the Follow screen) and toggle “Look at me.” Solo will now stay locked in one place (as opposed to flying after you) while the camera keeps you in frame as you move. This is great if you want to create distance from the camera.
Free Look turns Follow into an interactive filming experience: When you enter Free Look, Solo still follows your subject, but you now have full control of the camera. Pan and tilt freely to look anywhere you want while remaining completely confident in Solo’s position and directional heading. It’s similar to the Hollywood motion control of a Russian arm on the back of a truck: Virtually leash Solo to one vehicle, and swivel and tilt the camera manually to track the movements of even the most spontaneous subject. Plus, if Solo isn’t exactly where you need it, Free Look also allows you to adjust the copter’s position in space with a nudge of the controls. When you know exactly where the camera will be, you can plan shots with confidence and also react in the moment.
Free Look use case: Let’s say you want to follow a subject driving an ATV. Have Solo follow your vehicle while your vehicle follows (or is near) the subject on the ATV. Control Solo from inside your vehicle, using the FPV video as guide. Go into Follow, toggle Free Look, and Solo is leashed to the vehicle you’re in. You now have complete control over the composition of your photo as you tail the ATV, putting the camera exactly where you want to put it while Solo flies along. This lets you do what no other Follow can: Actually compose your shots. You don’t always want a centered subject — this makes Follow much more visually interesting, and it turns your drone into a real photo tool.
For more info, watch out video “Solo for Action Sports”