The Golden Hours
Often you may not have a choice when you are going to film something, just because shoots are often setup far in advance and have many unpredictable factors involved. However if you do have a choice, by far the best hours for cinematic drone imagery are the Golden Hours of the day at Sunrise and Sunset. The long shadows during golden hour will help define terrains features.
It should also be noted that less people typically film at these times, so just by doing this one basic step you are already helping to differentiate your drone footage.
Sunrise is by far the most desired time to shoot aerials. The first, as I mentioned before, most people just don't want to wake up this early to film. The sun will be casting a cinematic golden light that contrasts greatly with the shadows of the terrain. Sunrise also has the benefit of fog and mist that frequently accompany it, which helps provide a ton of atmosphere for your shots. One thing to watch out for is sun flares that may washout your footage if you are facing towards the sun.
Sunset also offers some unique shooting options. You can achieve some great silhouetted terrain at sunset that won't have any fog, so this will increase the image contrast and saturation. You can also get some nice purple tones in the shadows depending on the time of year.
A good resource for shooting at sunrise and sunset are apps for your smartphone which will inform you of the best times during the day to shoot. You can even research data for days that are months away when you are pre-planning for a shoot. A good resourse for Apple users is an app called Lumy. If you are an Android user you can check out the app called Sun Surveyor.
- LightingWhat is the Golden Hour?Harry Guinness
- PlanningMorning, Noon, Night: Planning Photos Made Easy with SunCalcHarry Guinness