How to Shoot Surfing with a Drone


** Find out more about the DJI Mavic Pro here **

Probably the best angle when shooting a surfer is looking back down the shoulder of the wave. This means flying backwards (for the basics of how to fly a drone, see our earlier article). An added advantage of this technique is that you won’t get the propellors in your shot, since the blades are tilting away from the camera.

Once you’re over the lineup, fix a safe altitude above the breaking waves and point the Mavic towards the takeoff zone.

“The best angle when shooting a surfer is looking back down the shoulder of the wave”

As the surfer begins paddling, pull diagonally down on the right stick in the direction of the breaking wave:

Try using a pinch grip with your index finger and thumb, as this will give you more control. Start the movement slowly and gradually increase speed, adjusting direction on the stick as necessary:

Using a pinch grip on the right stick will give you more precise control over the drone’s movement.

If you’re filming a particularly fast break and you find you’re losing the surfer out of shot, switch to sport mode. Alternatively, use the Mavic’s “Active Track” functions to lock onto the subject and follow them automatically. Just tap on the surfer – or draw a box around them if they’re small in frame – and a green box will appear: 

The Mavic’s Active Track function locks onto surfers automatically.

Finally, no beach edit would be complete without some dramatic shots of the shoreline. The Mavic Pro can shoot slow mo at up to 96 frames per second. By combining this setting with the 40 mile an hour top speed available in sport mode, you’ll still see forward movement in the final shot while the breaking waves are slowed down. It’s an awesome cinematic effect:

Check out the next article in the series, when we’ll be look at the best ways to shoot road cycling with the Mavic Pro.

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